Last week we had some hard days in the Ballon household. It was an especially hard week for my 16-year-old. And of course for dear old mom and dad.
I’ve written frequently about the joys of raising teenagers, and for the most part, it is a joy. It’s really so much better than people tell you. But then, sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes the problems feel so enormous and grown-up that it’s hard to reconcile the fact that this is your “baby” facing all of these big feelings, big mistakes, and big choices.
One good thing that came out of all of last week’s hard (and there’s always something good to come out of it) was that I bought a 40 day devotional written for teen girls, to do with my daughter.
Because even though she’s been going to church since she was in diapers,
Even though she’s been in a Christian school most of her days,
Even though she lives in a home where we pray and talk about God, and her parents have told her multiple times how broken we once were, but also how we were saved by the love of Jesus,
Even though she’s served as the hands and feet of Jesus on two different mission trips and I saw it change her,
She is still her own person and she is walking her own faith journey, which sometimes takes detours, and looks a little sidewinder-ish.
So I bought this devotional and we are only on day 3, but it has already paid for itself ten-fold. Because last night we read all about grace and how God knows we will fall short and we don’t have to be perfect to win His love. And when I asked my daughter what she thought about it she said, “It’s such a relief. Because sometimes I feel like it’s not true. Sometimes all I hear is everyone telling me I have to be like Jesus and follow the rules to be a good person, and I feel like I have to be perfect. It’s a relief to know that He doesn’t expect perfection. To know that He will love me anyway.”
And my heart broke into a million pieces.
Because how did we get to 16 and she still not know?
How have I failed to make sure that if she knew nothing else — literally nothing else — she knew about grace and the unfailing love of our Father?
How have I forgotten that there is so much pressure on her, so many rules, so many boundaries, and sometimes we talk about those things ad nauseam until grace sounds like a footnote instead of the headline?
How is it that I write a blog called Neither Height Nor Depth that is based on the very verses that confirm that nothing can ever separate us from the love of God, and she didn’t know?
So I held her and we both cried and I told her out loud that there is nothing she could ever do that would make God stop loving her. And there was nothing she could ever do that would make me stop loving her.
If that is the only message she takes away from our 40 day study, it will be totally worth it.
So, in case no one has told you recently — or ever. In case you hear more about rules, and being “good”, and not messing up, than you do about love. In case you feel forgotten, unloved, unworthy, or unclean. In case you didn’t know that the price was already paid, and you have a Father that loves you so much He would go to the ends of the earth to find you, here are the words I want you to hear:
“For I know that nothing can keep us from the love of God. Death cannot! Life cannot! Angels cannot! Leaders cannot! Any other power cannot! Hard things now or in the future cannot! The world above or the world below cannot! Any other living thing cannot keep us away from the love of God which is ours through Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39, NLV)