to be alive is to be broken - and why that's good news
There are rare days that I don't want to end. Tuesday was that kind of day. I just wanted to soak up every last minute of the launch of Parenting the Wholehearted Child. In case you missed it (which would have been hard to do since I dropped book launch bombs all over FB and Twitter) two super fun things happened through the kindness of two amazing women.
Fun thing one: Parenting the Wholehearted Child was featured as a book giveaway by Melanie Shankle on www.thebigmamablog.com. Need to laugh? Go to Melanie's blog!
Fun thing two: The opening story from Chapter 2 in my book was featured by Ann Voskamp on www.aholyexperience.com. (Scroll to April 8th to read it) Need to be reminded of God's amazing grace? Go to Ann's blog!
Yes, Tuesday was what I call a very, very good day.
But what I've enjoyed most this week is seeing how much the message of the book is resonating with readers. It appears I'm not the only one who has felt the pressure to get it perfectly right so my kids would turn out perfectly right. It appears I'm not the only one who has who suffered from guilt and shame of not being the perfect mom I always dreamed I'd be (key word being suffer). It appears this really is a world wide epidemic. Okay so maybe the phrase "world wide epidemic" is a little strong ..….. but maybe not.
As I've spoken this week at several book launch events and shared the good news of God's grace for broken moms like me, I've seen tears fall from the eyes of young and old moms alike. The emotion this topic evokes tells me one thing - it tells me just how very much Brennan Manning understood the human condition when he wrote "To be alive is to be broken and to be broken is to stand in need of grace." But knowing our brokenness and being honest about our brokenness are two very different things.
So imagine with me what would happen if were willing to get honest with our struggles - and take off our masks - and stop pretending we have it all together - and confess how much guilt we carry over our mistakes?
I think we might see something really wonderful happen.
We might also see our kids begin to get honest with their struggles - and take off their masks - and stop pretending they have it all together - and confess how much guilt they carry over the mistakes they make.
Because I don't have to tell you …… our kids, they feel the pressure to get it right or else. Parents aren't the only ones heavy laden and worn out. Our kids are too. They are trying so hard to prove they are worthy - worthy of being known, worthy of being accepted, worthy of being loved. They are craving it. Heck, I am craving it and I bet you are too.
And by the way, we were created to crave it. God created us to crave Him - the only One who fully knows us, fully accepts us and fully loves us.
We will only know our true worth when we remember what God did to prove His love for us in giving us Jesus.
In my book I talk about what it looked like to start getting honest with my weaknesses and enjoying the gift God gives us in Jesus called grace. And I talk about how that change in my own heart has impacted our kids - how it has also given them permission to be honest with their weaknesses and enjoy the gift God gives them in Jesus called grace. And what a beautiful thing it has been!!
Did the boys fight over their new legos this morning? They did. Did one unnamed child hit another unnamed child over the legos? He did. But did they apologize and grant one another forgiveness? They did. And in prayer, we thanked God for the gift He has given us in Jesus called grace.
So in closing I thought I'd share an excerpt from the book to give you a glimpse into what it's been like in the Cunnion home to transition from trying to raise perfect children to desiring to raise wholehearted children.
Excerpt from Parenting the Wholehearted Child
As God's grace began to transform my heart, it also began to transform my parenting. Gradually my quest to raise perfect children was transformed into a desire to raise “wholehearted children”—children who live from the freedom found in being wholeheartedly and unconditionally loved (and liked!) by God in Jesus Christ.
What I now wanted was to raise children who understand that they are fully known and fully loved, and who experience the fullness of life and the power of God that we read of in Ephesians 3:17–19 (NLV): “I pray that Christ may live in your hearts by faith. I pray that you will be filled with love. I pray that you will be able to understand how wide and how long and how high and how deep His love is. I pray that you will know the love of Christ. His love goes beyond anything we can understand. I pray that you will be filled with God Himself.”
Teaching this truth to my children became my new purpose, because only when we experience his extravagant grace and wholehearted love for us are we then enlivened to obey the greatest commandment in the Law: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matt. 22:36–39).
Raising children who love Jesus and love one another does not result from our doing more and trying harder to be perfect parents raising perfect kids. There is only one perfect parent—our Heavenly Father. And there is only one perfect child—Jesus Christ, his Son.
So while perfectionist parenting teaches children that they are capable of loving God and one another as the Law demands, parenting with grace teaches children that God’s love for them is based not on their perfect keeping of the law but rather on Jesus’ perfect keeping of it for them.
Only Jesus can and does love perfectly. Wholeheartedly.
Wholehearted children, therefore, are children who grow up with a keen awareness of just how wholly dependent they are on Jesus’ wholehearted love for them. This is the best news of all because it fixes our gaze on a God whose wholeheartedness covers over (and meets us in) our half-heartedness.
Knowing that they are fully known and fully loved allows our children to live in the freedom and fullness of Jesus’ unconditional love for them without the burden of perfection, performance, and pretending. This, my friend, is extravagant grace, and in experiencing this grace, our hearts are captivated and transformed.
I'm headed south for three more book launch events to keep celebrating the good news of God's perfect love for imperfect parents. Next stop is Atlanta-ish, GA on April 14th & 15th I'd love to see you there!