I Love You Just the Same

Dec 07, 2023

"You wanna know the good news? I love you just the same!" I say these words pretty frequently now, but I first said it after sitting through a huge meltdown with one of my kiddos. He was having a rough time, and was trying to manage his big emotions in ways that were hurtful to others so I had to pull him away. He was mad, like really mad. He cried. He yelled. He disobeyed. I had to use my stern voice to remind him that I'm in charge and he wasn't ready to play with his brothers yet. We were sitting alone in our craft room right next to the emotion chart, he was the least bit interested in using! He was starting to calm down, but he wasn't calm yet. It was then I reminded him even after all that, it didn't change my love for him one bit. It was hard. It was unpleasant. And yes, give me the good, obedient sweet moments over rage and trying to co-regulate any day! 

Our kiddos will often times miss the love behind boundaries, rules, and consequences. Negative behavior that comes from a place of dysregulation often elicits shame in children. Their little brains are learning to experience and manage these emotions. They don't have the full brain capacity to do this well, and they certainly can't do it, if we don't teach them. Unaware of their own limitations, but totally aware of the disappointment and frustration their negative behavior has brought about, they tend to internalize that they're bad. Which is why a timely reminder that even in their low moments of poor behavior and dysregulation, they are still loved. Love is far more powerful than shame can ever be. Shame elicits negative or hidden behavior while love brings about connection and the ability to move toward good. 

In my counseling practice, I often times help parents express to their children the love they have for them even as they struggle. Kids are literally often surprised to know that their behavior didn't change their parent's love for them. We may know it, but our kids might not. So go ahead and tell them. 

What's so beautiful about being able to offer and affirm this unconditional love to our children, is it is so reflective of the heart of our God. He knows EVERYTHING about us, but it has never, not once, changed His perfect love for us! What a relief. What a peace!

A few years ago, I had shared the I love you just the same story with the high school students I get to teach at church as a reminder of God's unconditional love for us. Weeks later, one of these high school girls was serving at a ministry for the homeless. She was walking in an area where some of the homeless population were, and approached a woman who most would ignore due to her social status and appearance. But this young high school lady, saw that even this woman in such a state still had worth. She asked her if she could pray for her. The lady replied with shame in her voice, "I can't give up this bottle" (as she pointed to the hard liquor in her hand), and she went on to say more about how her life just isn't where she'd want it to be. This high school student, looked right into the eyes of this woman filled with shame, and told her, "Wanna know the good news? God knows all of that, and He loves you just the same!" What a beautiful moment of dignity for that woman on the street. Was she making her best life choices? Nope! No amount of shaming her for that would have pulled her out of that situation or changed her behavior. Shame is proven to be a terrible agent of change. I don't think this high school girl's comment changed her life, but I do believe she felt loved in that moment. Feeling loved and safe moves us closer to acting in ways that are loving and safe. 

If you're reading this, perhaps you need to know that God knows everything about you and He loves you just the same. If you're a parent, perhaps your children need reminding that even in their hard moments, you love them just the same. And to my precious kids, who may someday read my blog and realize they made the cut quite a few times, nothing is going to change my love for you guys. I'll love you always and forever! 



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