The following is an excerpt from “Created to Connect: A Christian’s Guide to the Connected Child.” From Dr. Karyn Purvis with Michael and Amy Monroe, “Created to Connect” serves as a dynamic resource for those looking to draw helpful, encouraging parallels between the Christian faith and the foundational teachings of Trust-Based Relational Intervention® (TBRI®).
God’s ultimate response to sinful humanity is love—a love that gave and always gives. As Paul wrote to the Romans, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, NIV). As those who have received this gift of undeserved love, our hope should be to demonstrate this same kind of giving, selfless love in ways that draw our children into a deeper personal relationship with our giving Lord and with us.
As parents, we have the opportunity not only to teach but to embody God’s love for our children. Consider a parent tenderly cradling her newborn. The mother’s face is glowing as her child peers through blurry vision to see his preciousness reflected in her joyful smile. Her voice is warm and welcoming, inviting a deep and soothing connection. A warm sensory bath of loving care envelops the infant. This scene is repeated hundreds of times in the first days of life. Out of this spontaneous, affectionate, connected dance between parent and child, this little one develops trust in the knowledge that his parent truly cares for him. In these arms of nurturing love, this child learns who he is, the meaning of unconditional love and his heart is being prepared to understand the eternal love of God.
Yet because of their histories, many of our children are not able to readily understand and accept this love because they have never come to realize just how precious they are to God and us. Many of them did not receive positive attention and healthy affection when they were young. As infants they may not have been held in the arms of adoring parents whose faces reflected an undeniable joy at the very presence of their lives. As toddlers, they may have been denied nurture and comfort. As they grew older, they may have never experienced affirmation, praise, or encouragement.
Our God is a nurturing God. We see this throughout Scripture as he nurtures his children in many different ways—by comforting those who are hurting and troubled (2 Corinthians 1:3-4), by providing for our physical needs (Matthew 6:28-34), by encouraging us (Romans 15:4), and by correcting us (Hebrews 12:4-11). Yes, God nurtures even when He is correcting us.
Likewise, purposing to embody God’s love to our children doesn’t mean that we won’t have to discipline and correct. As we’ve already learned, we will inhibit our children’s ability to grow and develop if we do not provide the consistent correction they need. However, our correction must always be based in and emanate from our relationship with and love for them, just as God’s correction of us flows from his love for and relationship with us (Hebrews 12:6). In that sense we must always be connecting even when we are correcting. It is most certainly that love—from us and ultimately from God—and all that flows from it that will bring about the ultimate transformation we desire for our children.
Published by Empowered to Connect. Used by permission.
“Created to Connect” is a foundational piece of Show Hope’s Hope for the Journey Conference. To experience the practical teaching and tools for a path to healing and hope for children and families impacted by adoption and/or foster care, learn more here.
Download a digital version of “Created to Connect” for free here.