By Becky Beresford, Crosswalk.com
If you are a deep feeler like myself, you will understand when I say I cry at everything. My heart has always felt all the feels. Sometimes I wish I could blame it on pregnancy or the sleep-deprived territory that comes with raising kids. But the truth is, I’ve been this way my entire life.
Growing up I used to be ashamed of my deep emotions or the way I felt the burdens of others. In conversations, I’d hide behind fake smiles and well-timed nods because holding it all together was acceptable and socially safe. Happy moods were okay to express, but harder ones were okay to hide.
I was often labeled “sensitive,” which wasn’t a positive comment coming from the labeler. A lie began to take root that told me because I felt too much, I was too much. It wasn’t until recently that God showed me how all of my makeup was wonderful and could be used for His glory. Decades later and I now take this label as a compliment. I like who God has made me to be. I’m thankful for my feels.
Motherhood Brings Our Heart and Feelings to the Surface
As I stepped into motherhood, however, I experienced the struggle again. It’s easy to believe that in order to raise emotionally “stable” kids, we have to keep our feelings under wraps. We can’t show them our authentic emotions. We can’t let them know we are in pain. Everything’s fine. Mommy is FINE.
But Mommy isn’t fine.
Mommy is hurt.
Mommy is scared.
Mommy is mad.
And Mommy needs to know that it’s okay to let it show. It’s okay to look your little one in the eyes and be honest with them.
So often we crave authentic relationships with others, ones where we can be ourselves, imperfections and all. But we avoid this same type of connection with our kids, the humans who interact with us each and every day. This reality raises the question WHY? Why are we resistant to realness with our children?
I’m not saying we should spew all of our burdens on our kids, telling them the in’s and out’s of our troubles and trials. There is wisdom and discernment in knowing what to share that God Himself will give. But I think it’s okay to say, “Mommy is really sad.”
Our kids are experts at spotting fakes. They know when something is off and we are hurting. And they want us to be real. Deep down, I think we want it too. Our hearts need to know there is liberty to express our feelings in truth and love, especially to those in our closest circle. By taking off the mask and giving our babies the gift of authenticity, we will teach them holy lessons they can carry their whole lives.
Still don’t believe me? I’ve got you. Here are three Biblical reasons why we should share our feelings with our kids.
1. It Shows Them How to Approach God
“So, let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most” (Hebrews 4:16)
If our relationship with our children reflects God’s relationship with us, then we need to look at how He interacts with His kids, especially when we are messy.
God doesn’t expect us to have it all together when we come to Him. He tells us to come boldly--arms open, feelings flowing. I can guarantee "when we need it most", we are not calm and collected. Our knees are on the floor, face to the ground, tears streaming down our cheeks as we cry out to heaven. And God wants this.
When we live with open hearts we are showing our littles a crucial lesson: It’s okay to lay it all out there, but then we must lay it down before our King. Casting our cares before our Savior, we show our kids how to have a deeper relationship with Him--one that is real and one that will last eternally.
2. It Shows Them How to Have Healthy Relationships
Healthy relationships hold all the emotions. Our kids need to understand that people have many types of feelings. And when they encounter them, we can guide them in knowing what to do and how to sit with others when they are suffering. Romans 12:15 says, “Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep” (NLT).
Jesus wept with His loved ones. This shows us that feelings don’t need to be ‘fixed.’ They need to be felt in order to heal. Having this loving posture with our family and friends creates an environment where people feel safe to share what’s really going on.
I let my kids know it’s alright to be angry. I ask them to tell me how they are feeling. And then I listen and be present. We talk. We pray. We bring our deep emotions back to Jesus. And you know what, my kids are starting to ask me questions too!
When they see me crying, they ask why. They don’t say stop, they try to connect. They are imitating what they’ve seen, and when they see mama hurting, they practice what they’ve learned. Authenticity fosters an atmosphere full of compassion, kindness and empathetic listening.
3. It Shows Them How to Love Others Well, including Themselves
Starting with ourselves, we need to not get after people for having negative feelings. David was called a man after God’s own heart but have you read the Psalms? In the six verses within Psalm 13, we see David go from a man who was in absolute despair to a man praising God because He was good. David’s emotions were all over the place! And yet, he always turned back towards the Father and His faithful promises.
David’s feelings were not neat and contained, and neither are ours. On harder days they can cause wounding and unwanted harm to those around us. But our Father is a forgiver. He is capable of redeeming any situation and mending any wound. When we sin in our feelings, His grace is there to meet us in full abundance.
We can ask for forgiveness and forgive ourselves because the gospel makes it so nothing is held against us. We are covered and carried. When we understand this truth, it takes condemnation away. It inspires us to offer the same divine forgiveness to others, especially our kids.
Family relationships are the best place to practice the art of apologizing, forgiving, and extending unconditional love. Freely we’ve received from God. Freely we can give.
Let’s push past the resistance and invite our children into the happenings of our hearts. With God’s help, we can be authentic in parenthood and beyond. Our relationships and families will be thankful we did.
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/goodmoments
Becky Beresford lives in Huntley, IL and is happily outnumbered by her husband and three wild boys. She is a writer and speaker with a Master’s Certificate in Discipleship from Moody Theological Seminary. Becky loves encouraging God’s Daughters to embrace their truest selves in Christ and walk out the gospel truths empowered by God. She would love to connect with you online at BeckyBeresford.com, where you can grab a FREE copy of the Brave Woman Manifesto: Five Things to Tell Yourself When Life Gets Hard. Feel free to follow her and the weekly Brave Women Series on Facebook | Instagram | Twitter.