From Bad Hair to Brokenness: Pointing Our Kids to God

by Kelley Mathews

A young girl in a dark t-shirt combing Golden hair

Kate is my awesome, godly daughter who rarely flies her thirteen-year-old crazy flag. But when she does, it’s great stuff that must be shared. So with her permission, I relay a worthy moment in our house a few weeks ago in hopes of giving us something bigger to consider in our parenting journey.

One particular morning went like this: As we were rushing out the door for school, she asks me to curl her hair. No way do I have time to curl this girl’s hair with three kids to get to preschool/school and me to work; however, I agree to this request (with trepidation and eyes wide open) because she never, ever wants her hair curled. If you have a teenage daughter, you already know the rest of the story. I curl her hair. She hates it. I’m apparently old, out of touch with all things fashionable, and ridiculous for even implying that I thought it turned out anything short of hideous. Now she’s too sweet a girl to articulate any of that sentiment, but the swift eye roll of a teenage daughter communicates more than words have ever dared to speak. Kate then uncharacteristically bursts into tears and blurts out nine great words:

“The only gap in my resume is my hair.”

I may have to have these words etched in stained glass or needle pointed on a pillow. You better believe I laughed hard, really hard (after dropping her off at school). I’ll get back to Hairgate in a minute, but first a quick parenting soapbox.

I’m convicted that if we are going to raise up children to know and love God, and to live their life to the very fullest for Christ, they have got to know their desperate need for him. We have got to stop giving out life’s participation trophies and spending ridiculous amounts of time, energy, and money to make sure our kids feel included, successful, loved by this world, and good enough. We are not good enough, and neither are they—at least not in our own self-reliant power. We must stop our obsession with filling our kids’ “gaps”—or they’ll never learn that acceptance and “good enough” only comes from God. They, and we, must come to realize how desperately we need God. And believe me, nobody needs to hear my soapbox more than I do.

I recently was listening to a Francis Chan podcast on Revelation 2 talking about lukewarm Christians—those who know the Lord casually, but don’t really care to be on fire for him. Just enough Jesus is fine, but not too much, please. More than happy to be casual church attenders, but definitely don’t want to be viewed as fanatical.

Revelation 2:15–17 was the passage referenced in this podcast.

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.

Thanks, Francis Chan, feeling better already. But what exactly is God saying? The passage talks specifically of how we have lost our fire for the Lord. We are not hot, nor cold. We have found our identity and security in our riches while missing that we’re wretched, poor, and bring absolutely nothing to God’s table on our own. I only throw it out there because none of us is trying to raise the next generation of lukewarm Christians that God wants to spit out. But God makes it clear that we must know our status without him—wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked. That’s not mincing words. So how do we parent differently knowing this?

As adults, somewhere along the way, the world has let each of us know (loud and clear) that we aren’t good enough. Some of us took that information and chose to pull ourselves up from our proverbial bootstraps and set out to prove otherwise. Our pride required we do so. “I will fill my gap, my way.”

Others of us have turned that rejection into a catalyst for finding our security and hope in Him. We’ve decided to live a life of trying to know and love the Lord more genuinely, and be about His things because our identity is secure. In other words, we left lukewarm in search of hot. We’ve come to terms with our inadequacies and not good enough—and gave them to the Lord.

That day is also coming for our kids. No matter how mama bear we try to raise and shelter them, sooner or later the world will identify and happily point out their deficits. How will our kids respond to this? I think they will respond just fine if we do the work now.

Have we shown them that He’s the only place where true value is found, and that they are good enough because of that alone? Better than good enough. Paid for by a price and loved by the one who created the heavens and the earth. His child. Or is that reality going to crush them because we’ve spent their entire life telling them “you is smart, you is kind, you is important” (Love that movie—could quote it all day long). Stellar academics, athleticism, popularity, attractiveness: they all come at a price, and our kids will feel that “gap in their resume” when they are gone.

So when the tough moments come, fight back the urge to buy your kids the participation trophy and make them feel adequate at all costs. That’s the stuff that leads to adults who never lean on God and end up in the lukewarm category. Instead of trying to fix it for them, teach them to turn to the Lord for their significance when they aren’t quite good enough. Stop filling the gaps and point them to Him. Perhaps they need a metaphorical “Hey sister, there’s a gap in your resume, and it’s a lot bigger than your bad hair day!”

Cynthia Yanof

Cynthia Headshot
Cynthia lives in Dallas with her husband and two kids, working part-time for the Denison Forum. She loves Jesus, her family, inviting people into their home, spending time with her girlfriends, and serving the Lord. She was an attorney for many years, but left to focus on her role as “Mom’s Uber” to sporting events,…
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