This past Sunday my husband and I had the opportunity to speak at a church here in our community. The topic was parenting and the pastor of this particular church invited us to a conversation style presentation whereby he would conduct an interview of sorts, asking us about our goals as parents, what best practices we may (or may not) have discovered, and what mistakes we’ve and what corresponding lessons we’ve learned along the way.
It was, as you might imagine, humbling and intimidating and nerve wracking and exciting all at once. We’d had supper with the pastor and his wife the week prior so we had a good idea of what sorts of topics and questions would be broached. The worst part? This church has two services so we had to do it twice. I was nearly wrung out after the first go ’round! Not only that but now there’s the compulsive fretting over what I said at the first gathering that I didn’t at the second and vice versa. As if I don’t fret enough already…
My husband and I, we tried to be pretty honest both about our shortcomings and about the grace that is ours in Christ Jesus, as parents yes, but as sinful men and women especially. We see our goal as parents is to disciple our kids; we want them to love the Lord Jesus with all of their hearts, souls, minds and strength. This doesn’t mean we parent perfectly nor that life in our home is one long Bible study. Quite the opposite really. What we hope it does mean is that the gospel informs and motivates all that we do, from homework to sports to admitting our failures and seeking forgiveness.
I’ve made mistakes and plenty of them; my husband has as well. The last thing we wanted was to present ourselves as model parents. The truth is we are still in the trenches, desperate for grace on a moment by moment basis. What we have we gave, as best we knew how, and that was the hope of the gospel. Jesus came not for the healthy but for the sick, for those who see their sin and despair over it and believe His promise to save.
I told the story of me as a young(er) mom falling into bed at night crying because I was fully convinced I was the worst. mom. ever. Not only that but I was sure I had ruined my kids forever. I mean, pick your standard and I had failed to live up to it. My sense of condemnation was severe. I compared myself to the better mom and I hated myself. And her.
I wish I had known the freedom of grace. Yes I had sinned, grievously so–against my kids, against my husband, against the Lord–but rather than my despair driving me to try harder and do better (and fail more spectacularly) I wish I had repented before the Lord, apologized to my kids, and then slept the sleep of those who rest secure in the mercy of the Lord. There is no condemnation, I wish I could have reminded my younger self, and the Lord’s mercies are new every morning. There is grace. Grace that is greater than all my sin!
Who am I kidding? Me the old(er) mom needs to remember this truth as well!
I had a return at a local business on Monday and as I was checking out the salesperson asked me if I had spoken at her church Sunday. “You helped me feel better about being a mom to my three girls,” she told me.
Oh, honey, it’s my privilege. The Lord is good. Love those girls and love Him. Yes and amen.
P.S. For those of you who were there Sunday and found your way here because the pastor mentioned that I would post the name of the filtering and accountability software we use on our boys’ computers and smart phones, click here and find out more about NetNanny. There are certainly other equally effective filters out there but this is the one we use. There is also an app for the iPhone, perhaps for other devices as well.