See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the Children of God. // 1 John 3:1
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get a little teary eyed as my eighth graders looked at me with gratitude one afternoon. I’d just allowed them to spend an entire religion period spouting off their frustration with a variety of circumstances they’d been experiencing over the past few months. I listened patiently, responding with what I hoped was understanding, love, and maybe logic here and there. As I dismissed them to lunch, several of the students came up and said, “Sister, this was awesome. It feels like no one ever really listens to us.”
Misery, angst, awkwardness, confusion, rebelliousness, and so many other things could be aptly applied to my darling middle school students on any given day. After nine and half years of teaching middle schoolers, I’ve learned the only answer to any of those things, the only thing that can free them from the anxiety, confusion, and awkwardness of adolescence is knowing their true identity: they are the Father’s beloved ones.
I teach my students a lot of doctrine, dogma, and theology throughout the course of a year. In the end, though, I don’t care if they remember who presided over the Council of Trent, or if they can define Hypostatic Union, or if they know how many years Israel was in exile. If they remember one thing, I hope and pray it’s this: they are loved infinitely, personally, uniquely, and individually by the God Who created them and holds them in existence by His very love for them.
I hope and pray that for you, too, sister. This knowledge is not something that only middle schoolers need. We need it too. Every day we need to be reminded that our identity and worth can be found only by dwelling in the gaze of the Father Who has bestowed immeasurable love upon us that we may be called His children, that we shall be like him (see 1 John 3:2).
Sister, in this Christmas season, embrace your identity as the Father’s daughter because everyone who has this hope based on Him makes himself pure, as He is pure (see 1 John 3:3).