THE PARENTING DARE BLOG
I love, love, love mothers.
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THE PARENTING DARE BLOG
I love, love, love mothers.
Join our community!
I'm excited today because I want to delve into this interesting sphere of influence that you have with your kids, spouse, co-workers and such. What I'm going to talk about today is something you may not have even considered before. What am I referring to? The power of your gaze.
How you look at people has the ability to change their life and it can actually change your life, too. This makes me excited and is actually something I've been talking about during the last couple of months; I've been giving retreats for some AMAZING mothers and I discuss "the power of the mother's gaze" in the second session and the "assignment" I give those mothers is to "seek their child's face."
I know many of you cannot go to those retreats so I wanted to discuss this topic today because it's really been life changing for me!
The reason it's been life-changing - if you think about it, we basically want one thing from other people: to be accepted. When we walk into a room (whether at a party, at work, school or home), we literally scan the room, looking for people who are happy to be with us.
When we find those people, we are drawn into their radius. When they look at us, we truly feel seen. Loved. Accepted. And all is well within our souls. We feel joy. Why is that? Well, according to Wilder and Hendricks in their book, “The Other Half of Church,” facial recognition circuitry in our brains is actually linked to our joy center. We look to the FACE of others to see how they feel about us. Don't you love that?
How we look upon another person has the ability to change their world. If you are a mother, you have the power to change your child's life today. By how you look at your child. I love that so much and it's something that I encourage you to do today. Study Your Child's Face. Not in a creepy way, but in an intentional, "let-me-slow-my-life-down and just-gaze-upon-you-sweet-child-of-mine" sort of way.
That changes a child because they actually feel seen. Accepted. And loved. But gazing upon your child in love can also change YOU, which is something that I did not even consider until June of 2018, when my husband Russ and I gave ourselves the gift of spending five days at The John Paul II Healing Center in Tallahassee, Florida. It was an incredible week where Lori could.not.stop.crying. I joked that Kleenex could have sponsored the event.
Anyway. One of the highlights of the week was a big individual healing/prayer session. During that session, there was a prayer leader and intercessors. It was sort of like Therapy on Steroids. The Holy Spirit was more or less in charge (literally guiding the leader) and I released a lot of stuff during the session.
During my particular prayer session I shared a little bit about some struggles that I’ve had with one of my children. It was not the focus of the prayer time, but interestingly, one of the intercessors, Nicole, received a word for me about this for me. She told me:
“Lori, I have this sense that your gaze will heal your child and yourself. How you look at this child in love and joy will minister to your own soul...how you needed to be looked at and seen and enjoyed. As you give that to your child, you will also receive it.”
Isn’t that gorgeous? What Nicole told me was profound. I can GET by GIVING. How? When I make the time to slow my body (and life and busy) down, and actually LOOK at this child with love, everything else falls away and I instantly feel all toasty and warm inside. I feel nurturing. I feel close to this child. As those strong emotions course through me, they minister to my own soul, feeding me in a life-giving way.
So gorgeous, eh?
Now, if you want to dive a little deeper into this topic, keep reading/listening.
The point so far: seeing and being seen by another human being gives us joy. It makes us feel accepted and all The Good Things inside.
But how do we experience joy with God?
John 15:11-12, “I have told you this so that my joy might be in you and your joy might be complete. This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.”
How does God love us?
In Psalm 16:11, “In Your presence is fullness of joy.” But get this. The original Hebrew makes it a bit more personal, “abundance of joy in your face.” So it would be more like this: “In Your presence there is abundance of joy in your face (for me).”
To think of God the Father having JOY in His Face when He looks at me...yes, I love that. That actually lights up my entire being. I feel safe. Loved. Happy.
Remember, we look to the FACE of others to see how they feel about us. When we find joy, we feel all the good things. So that’s why I love love love the Hebrew translation - God’s face SHINING on me, seeing me, delighting in me. It’s not just His presence, but His FACE.
As I have more or less said through this whole post, God designed our human brains to seek joy through eyes and facial expressions, through being with people who are glad to be with us.
That is given through the FACE (in how eyes light up and how people smile at us, a whole-face thing) and through RELATIONSHIP (it’s how we feel when someone is happy to be with us).
In my life, and in your life. We want strong, beautiful families. We want children that know and love God.
So let’s build joy during this Christmas season. Not in a sugary way, but in a deeply connected way.
Joy says, “I want to be with you.”
Start with your relationship with God the Father. Live in this truth: God loves you and is happy with you, He is shining on you with joy.
I find that I can accept God the Father’s love for me when I think of how I feel when I gaze at one of my children. My love is overwhelming. And it doesn’t matter what they did or did not do. I just love them because they are mine. And so if that's how I feel as a human mother, then it’s not a huge jump to accept that my heavenly Father would love in the same way.
When I feel that acceptance from my Creator, I don’t have to pretend that I have it all together every second of every day. I can be real. I can struggle. But knowing that GOD is shining on me with love and acceptance means I have this interesting mix. His love combines with All of Me. It’s like a beautiful dance, where He does not leave me alone in my distress. “I can handle it all, Lori. You give me the struggle. I give you My Unconditional.”
And as I dance with Him, I feel connected and more like myself, even in the reality of my angst. Just because I know I am loved, seen, and accepted.
When we feel loved by God, when we can feel His Face shining upon us, our joy swells. Then that joy can radiate to others, which makes them feel joy.
Friends. This understanding is simple. In fact, it is so simple that it makes me want to weep. As a young mother, I would pray more. Desire more. But then get ticked off at how my child left the back door open. Again. Or see the stains on the carpet. Or see the mess in the kitchen. And it oh-so-easily became, “How to be happy in this chaos of my home with all of these mess-making people?”
How I love being an older mother. Now, to be sure, I must keep directing the children to CLOSE the back door and to put a lid on their coffee so it doesn’t spill and stain the carpet. Yes, yes, yes.
But the most basic truth: we feel joy when someone smiles at us. We feel complete when they want to be with us. And that’s how God made us. That’s what He wants for us.
“I have told you this so that my joy might be in you and your joy might be complete. This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.” ~ John 15:11-12.
Make your home a high-joy sort of place this Advent season. How? Seek the face of your children. Smile with your eyes as you look into their eyes. Delight in them. Let them know, by how you smile at them, “Wowsa, I’m so glad you were created.”
There is incredible, infinite, eternal power in your gaze. Give it as a gift. (And you will be stunned at what you will receive back!)
P.S. Another area where I have "received as I give" is through the phenomenal mothers that have come on my Mother Retreats. In fact, after the last one, I couldn't even talk, I was that FILLED with emotions. It was powerful and overwhelming and GORGEOUS. I
In honor of mothers, I created a FREE online retreat just for you!
That will take you to our product page. Simply click on "mother retreat" and you will be taken to a page where you an enroll using your name and email. It's easy, peasy, lemon, squeezy. You will love the shifts you will receive from that retreat.
I'm Lori Doerneman
Wife. Mom. Catholic.
Idealist with 8 kids,
keeping it real.
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