Thorn-bound Hearts


If anyone says, "I love God", and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. -1 John 4:20

Children who have been neglected and rejected from birth have a thorn in their hearts. The one person, their mother, who was supposed to love them and protect them, didn't. They carrot that thorn, not knowing why, into the world. The thorn grows and chokes out every relationship from then on, until there is a ball of thorns that surround the heart keeping anyone and everything out. They are tortured in an isolated cell of their own hard, thorn-bound hearts. They desperately want love but they can't let it in. Their horrifying fear is rejection, yet they push love away to ensure it on their terms; a self-fulfilling prophecy.

We bring these wounded children into our homes, unaware of what lies beneath their chest. We dream of bringing them "home", loving them, teaching them about Jesus, but then reality hits and the thorns around their hearts prick ours. They cannot love Jesus until they can love us. God made babies to look to their mommies as the first God-like image, sacrificial love, provider of needs, sustainer of life. That didn't happen with their birth mother, so it needs to happen with you, their real and forever mom. It takes time to unwind the thorns around their heart, but oh how worthwhile it is.

Forever mommies sacrifice to love thorny hearts with a high level of nurture that they didn't get when they were babies. Forever mommies also sacrifice to love thorny hearts by providing 2-year-old boundaries, even with kids who are teenagers. This perfect mixture of forever mom love unwinds the restricting thorns, and little by little, their hearts dare to let safe love in. And Jesus, in His perfect timing and will, skillfully and completely removes the thorn, heals their wound, and makes them a new creation as they surrender their heart to Him.

No Fear in Love

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 1 John 4:18

Fear. It’s the primary emotion of children from trauma. Oh, it comes out as mad, but make no mistake, it is fear that hides underneath. They are afraid, afraid of rejection. So they push love away to keep form experiencing more of the heart-devastating rejection. The heart can only take so much of it before it hardens like stone and shuts itself off with steel doors and pad locks. Our job as the forever moms of these wounded children is to allow God to use us to. one by one, remove the pad locks and open the steel doors until only soft flesh remains (Ez. 36:26) and fear is gone. Perfect love casts out fear. Perfect love comes from God, but until our child is able to accept Him, they look to us as a model of the God that they will one day surrender to. So we are charged with being a shadow of that perfect love that casts out fear. 

unplowed ground woman praying

If God is our model of perfect love, what does His perfect love look like? Scripture shows us:

God is love. (1 John 4:8) 

He is patient. He is kind. He suffers long. He protects. He bears all things, believes all things hopes all things and endures all things. He never fails. (1 Cor. 13)

His love is everlasting. (Jeremiah 31:3)

He is abounding in love and grace. (Exodus 34:6)

He is slow to anger and forgiving. (Numbers 14:18)

He disciplines those He loves. (Proverbs 3:12, Psalm 23:4b) 

He gives boundaries to express His love. (Numbers 34, Deut. 32:8, 2 King’s 14:25, Psalm 74:17, Micah 74:17, Acts 17:26)

He gives us commands to help us abide in His love. (John 15:10)

Sounds like the perfect Grandma/Arnold parent to me. While we can’t be the perfect, I have found it interesting that when we model God’s parenting style of structure and nurture, our kids feel safe in the boundaries and safe in our love… perfect love casts out fear. 

 If God’s love were void of discipline and boundaries, it would cease to be perfect, and if God’s love were only discipline and boundaries, it would cease to be be love. When we follow God’s model for love, fear is cast out and our kids are on their way to experiencing the ultimate act of God’s love in their softened hearts… His Son, Jesus Christ.