I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now
Q. What do you wish you’d known about God when you were a child?
Kona Brown: I wish I had known that God approved of me! My parents divorced when I was very young. God in his faithfulness gave me the most precious and loving second dad any little girl could ask for. But even though neither of my dads ever withheld their approval from me, the brokenness in the heart of a child brought on by divorce can sometimes be a bottomless pit.
My need to feel secure and approved of and accepted led me to develop a full-blown approval addiction. Like any other addiction, it is something that controls and drives you. Enslaved to and dependent on what other people thought of me, I became a people pleaser par excellence and the word “no” seldom featured in my vocabulary. I spent my life trying to be what I thought people wanted me to be. It was exhausting!
Only much later in my life did I learn that God’s love for me is more than just a “for God so loved the world” generalized, blanket kind of love, it’s also a “I have called you by name you are mine” specific kind of love. Walking in God’s approval meant that I could stop feeling the need to prove myself to others all the time.
Melissa Newell: As a young child my family were church goers. My grandfather was a Minister so it was really “expected” for us to be in church. One thing I wished I had known about God when I was a little girl was that he was ALWAYS there. Not just when I was in church or down on my hands and knees at night praying to him. But that he was ALL AROUND me, ALL THE TIME. Talking to him was as easy as blinking my eyes. I am filled with joy to know that our children KNOW that GOD is with them, around them and FOR for them—ALL THE TIME!
Susan Heim: As a child, I was very insecure. I wanted to be prettier, more popular, and less shy. I craved other people’s approval, and I became jealous when others had what I didn’t. I knew that my parents loved me, but I never felt good enough. I hadn’t yet received the message that I was “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14) by God. It took me many years, well into adulthood, before I learned that God had created me “in his own image” (Genesis 1:27). And I finally started to love myself just as I am. As a parent, I want my children to know this truth. I want to spare them the pain of feeling unworthy and flawed. The best gift we can give our children is the knowledge that God created them and loves them unconditionally. We are perfect in His eyes.
Tiffany Malloy: Growing up, I fit the description of the obedient, quiet child. The one who didn’t ask for much, played quietly by herself, and obeyed her parents on their first request. Two and a half decades later, my mom still tells me, “You were such a good child! We never really had any problems with you- so content to just play by yourself.” Underneath it all, however, I was a young girl trying desperately to earn and keep the love of everyone around her by being good. Looking back, I wish I would have known and comprehended the all-encompassing, unconditional love of God—that He loved me whether I was “good” or “bad”, reserved or rambunctious, compliant or stubborn. This desire has shaped the way I parent my children. I try to remind them through my words, my actions, and my prayers that God loves them intensely.
Dusty Shell: I had a rather traumatic childhood. I knew about God and I was saved at age 9 during Vacation Bible School so I knew that He was always with me during the trying times that I experienced. However, I didn’t have any mentors to help me foster and grow my relationship with the Lord at that time. I wish that there had been someone to explain to me how God works everything together for good for those who love Him because there were times that I just simply couldn’t understand why He’d allow certain things to happen. If I’d realized that I could look forward to days when things wouldn’t be so bad, that He was still there, carrying me through those terrible events and moving me towards a better place where all of those experiences would serve a better purpose, then I’d have saved myself many tears. Now I strive to share God’s deep and abiding love for us no matter our circumstances. I want to teach my children that even when bad things happen, we can always depend on Him to guide us through.
Julie Kieras: I’m thankful for my Christian education, and being raised in church my whole life. I’m certain my upbringing protected me from making negative choices as a young person. However, one thing that got lost in translation, for me, was the importance of having a relationship with Christ, of KNOWING Him deeply and personally. I confused conforming to rules and standards with having a heart devoted to Him. I focused on the outward appearance and not the inward relationship.
I didn’t realize my focus was off for many years, well into my twenties. I wish I’d known much earlier that following rules only changes how you appear to others, but it doesn’t change your heart. Building a relationship with Christ is what would work on my heart and teach me the way I should go. My wish for my children is they’d first and foremost concern themselves with developing a relationship with God as their Lord, Savior, and Friend, and be always guided by His Word.
Gretta Johns could not be with us this month due to a family emergency. But check back—we will post her answer as soon as it is available. We’re praying for your family, Gretta! And give thanks for all our loving, thoughtful Mom Mentors.
Learn more about all the Mom Mentors here. We would love to hear about your experience, too!