Christmas can be full of wonder. But if you are hurting, it can be downright painful. My daughter’s roommate is engaged to a great guy–and her parents don’t approve. No specific reason, but somehow, in her 25 years, she never seems to measure up. I wrote her, and I was inspired to revise and post this as an open letter to all of you whose parents have rejected you, or who are otherwise disenfranchised.
I don’t know what you have done or have not done wrong. Doesn’t matter. Because regardless of the reason, you were designed to be loved. Your parents’ issues are their issues. Not yours. Please hear this. You did nothing to push them away, and you can do nothing to bring them back. I’ll show you what I mean. In my experience with teens and parents, I have learned this: parents’ love and acceptance (or hatred and rejection) of their child has nothing to do with the child. Let that soak in. Parents who accept their children do so because they let their children be who they are. They see their children as separate beings, differentiated from them. That’s healthy. As it should be. Parents who reject see their children as a reflection of them and an extension of themselves. It has nothing to do with the child. For example, one parent rejects his artistic child because he wanted an athlete; another parent rejects his athlete because he wanted a doctor. Do you see what I mean? Once we start putting requirements on who they are, we’ve gone beyond parent and stepped in as God. No, a parent is called upon to love the child before she even comes out of the chute—that’s the role of the parent!
God, on the other hand, loves you and accepts you as you are. Period. Anyone who implies that God’s love is based on your actions says that is perpeutating a terrible lie. If God doesn’t love us based on actions, how much less should anyone else? Love based on actions is not love; it’s conditional approval. “Love the sinner hate the sin,” reads as “hate the sinner.” Besides, as Tony Campolo points out, I thought we were supposed to love the sinner and hate our own sin.
I invite you to lift your eyes off anyone’s approval or disapproval. “If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life,” Jesus tells us. “Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26). Jesus must come first and foremost, and people are a distant second. This is true throughout our whole lives. Jesus said, “Love God, love others”–in that order. Jesus loved prostitutes, adulterers, tax extorters, thieves, liars and me. He also loves you. Although you are designed for community, to seek other’s approval is death. Grasp that in your inmost being, and you will be free. We are to love each other, but not live to each other. Once we grasp how deep and wide and full is Jesus’ love, other’s love becomes much less critical. Parents were given you to love you always and to guide you through childhood, but not to direct your life. Growing into adulthood is hard enough without having to become what someone else wants you to be.
Miranda left home at 18 and her parents had nothing more to do with her, didn’t even go to her wedding. Nicki revealed that she is sexually attracted to women and her mother yelled at her, threw dishes at her and dragged her down the stairs. I don’t care what you have done, God tells your parents to love you. Of course they have issues, wounds, fears. But whatever else is going on, know this: Jesus loves me, this I know, for the bible tells me so.
Dear heart, I pray that you will choose God’s complete peace will flood you, that you will know that He is proud of you, and that He delights in you! He wants you to know Him above all else. Your family’s inability to love you need not diminish your joy in the least. I pray that you not lose any more peace, or joy—or sleep—over those people who reject you and instead look to God who loves you infinitely.
“Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you,” Matthew 6:33. This means to seek to be in a right relationship with God–by accepting His offer of Jesus Christ as your Savior, and then abiding in Him. Choose Him. He will give you everything you need from there.
If you would like to email or message me, please do. I’d love to hear from you.
“Come to Me all who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest.” Jesus.