It's not our "perfection" that influences our children most
I’ve been kinda mean and grumpy lately. At least that's what I've been told. And I've kinda wanted to find a place to hide where no small child can find me for hours, maybe even days. I’ve been quick to raise my voice, and I’ve been “impatient mom” when all my children really needed was a small glimpse of “compassionate mom.”
This parenting thing is hard. Really hard. Yes, I know. We haven’t even gotten to the really tough stuff when “temper tantrums” and talks about why it’s a bad idea to hit your brother are replaced with “hormone tantrums” and talks about sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll. And still, the only thing I know for sure is that this parenting thing is hard.
Well, that’s not the only thing I know for sure. Perhaps one other thing I might know is that this parenting thing gets a whole lot harder when I forget why God has entrusted these kids to me – when I forget that my purpose isn’t to raise perfectly behaved and well- mannered kids, but to raise kids wholehearted kids- kids who know how wide and how long and how high and how deep is the love of God for them in Jesus Christ. That is my purpose. That is my calling as a mom.
See, I still remember it well – the time when my purpose was to “Be the person you want them to become.” I think it's a message we all, or at least most of us, feel the pressure of in our daily lives.
If you want them to be kind, be kind.
If you want them to be honest, be honest.
If you want them to be thankful, be thankful.
And the list goes on.....
You know something else I remember well- the shame and sadness at the end of a long day as I recalled the 8 billion ways I failed to "be the person I want them to become" and how I ruined them for life. Yes I remember those nights well. When the enemy convinced me that my children's hearts were wholly dependent on my perfect performance as a mom and messages void of grace played over and over again in my wheelhouse.
It's no big secret. Kids learn what they watch. They're imitators. Learners. Disciples, if you will.
So we have to be the person we want them to become. Right?
Well. It depends, actually.
I don't know if you'll hear this as good news or bad news but I'm really hoping it’s the former: What you get right and what you get wrong is not what will ultimately determine who your children will become. Jesus determines WHO our children are- adopted, justified, children of God. Nothing we do or don't do determines their status before God. What a relief!
Of course I recognize the magnitude of my influence on them and how my actions and words will impact them in profound ways. But I refuse to carry the burden of believing that I have to get it all right and do it all right if I want my kids to turn out all right. No. I laid that burden down at the cross years ago and I'm not picking it back up. I need only know about the forgiveness that has been poured out on me though the perfect sacrifice of Christ - through His death and resurrection- and give that amazing gift to my kids. I need only know that Jesus is bigger than any mistake I will make and His love covers all of my sins. And then give that gift of freedom to my kids.
Friend, hear this good news- Grace trumps our significance. It does. It really does.
God uses even our weaknesses and failures as parents to reach, melt, shape, and transform our kids.
2 Corinthians 12:9
Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.
It's not our perfection as parents that influences our children most. It's our authenticity about not being perfect that does.
The more authentic I am with my inability to always be kind, honest, thankful, (and the list goes on), the more freedom I give my kids to be authentic about their struggle to always be kind, honest, thankful, and the list goes on. And we can go together to Jesus, asking Him to give us both the desire and the power to live a life that brings Him glory.
“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.”
I'm a sinner and I will fail them over and over again. So my job is to point them to Jesus. Their perfection. Their righteousness. Their rescuer. The only one who has never and will never let them down.
So if I am going to buy into the message- "be the person you want them to become" then I simply want them to see a mom who has put her trust in Jesus. A mom who is painfully aware of how much she needs Jesus - yes, just how very much I need Jesus to melt me under the fire of His grace, mold me into His image, fill me with His unfailing love, and flow through me with all of the unstoppable power that the Holy Spirit generously gives. That's the person I want them to become. In my good mommy moments and in my monumentally bad mommy moments, my job is to teach my kids about the wholehearted and unconditional love of Christ - Trusting that the knowledge and experience of God's wild love for them will captivate their hearts and make them run to Jesus- and will stir in their souls a passion for Christ and a heart of sacrificial love for others.
Because when I get carried away with any other purpose I find this parenting job significantly harder than it needs to be. And when I forget, quite simply, that there is only ONE perfect parent – our Heavenly Father; and there is only ONE perfect child- Jesus Christ, His son, all the joy of loving and raising my three little monkeys is sucked out by perfection-driven parenting.
He is their Savior and He is their perfect example. The rest of us,…… well, ……. we're sinners.
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:23-24)
Sinners who are eternally and unconditionally loved by God. Sinners, who are, in Jesus Christ, called beloved children of God. Sinners who need the living, breathing love of Christ to flow in us and through us – with all the hope and joy and life that His grace brings.
So I Breathe. In. Grace.
And I pray Lord, come and fill this place with your restoring grace. When my chest is tight. When my fists are clenched. When I’m trying so hard and I am so weak. When self-sufficiency is sucking the life out of me. Come and fill this place. Thank you that your grace refuses to let go. Even when I fight my way back to my old ways. Your grace clings to me. I've tasted the sweet freedom found in the cross. Shame has lost its grip on me, though it will never stop trying to woo me back. So I will fall at your feet and I will worship you as you fill me anew with your love.
Perhaps you’ve had some tough parenting days recently. I know how you feel. Tell me how I can pray for you and I will. And be encouraged with these soul-satisfying words from Give Them Grace that God used to encourage me immensely:
God isn’t looking for your super-star parenting to save your kids. He is looking for a heart that trusts in His love, despite all of your mistakes.
So I share this with you while I challenge my own heart with it-
You don’t have to try so hard. His grace is bigger than all of your mistakes.
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