We are told often how as parents, we are a refection of God to our children. Daily, we have the opportunity to show them God’s love and grace, His authority and Discipline, His great care and provision for us--His dear children. But one of the ways I have been most surprised in parenting is how our children actually reflect much of God’s character to me. Sometimes I think they teach me more about God than I teach them. It is humbling indeed.
Our busy day is filled with school, activities, juggling nap time, snack, house chores. I am putting out the flames of sibling arguments and devising a plan to tackle the world crisis of laundry. I strive daily to exercise the fruit of the spirit in my parenting--- being patient and kind in my words and actions towards my children. I pray they see a mother who’s love is unconditional, who’s words are filled with grace. I long for my children to go to bed at night knowing they are deeply loved by us and that they have a God that loves them and has a plan for them. We try daily to talk about the Gospel with them and pray they will one day put their faith and trust in Christ-- who died for their sins.
Gospel centered parenting.
Oh how I wish I could confidently say this defines my daily life.
But welcome to the real world…where children disobey, glasses get broken, I forget to defrost meat for dinner, we are constantly running late, and where family devotions are more like planet of the apes (you think I am kidding?). My picture perfect idea of “Gospel Centered Parenting” is shattered….and I realize that the one who needs the Gospel the most is the parent and not the child. Because if I am not constantly leaning into Christ to be my strength, how do I ever expect my children to?
Recently, we had a particularly trying day in our household. I felt discouraged by my bickering children, the volume level in my house was similar to a heavy metal concert, I had a screamy baby, I had lost my temper one too many times…and I was heading towards despair. You know it’s been a tough day when you’ve had to ask a 4 year old for forgiveness for your bad attitude. It was bedtime and my tank was empty. Mommy was DONE. And in probably not so nice a way, I communicated that to my kids. “It’s late, daddy’s at a meeting, it’s been a long day…now let’s just go to bed.”
In my mind, it had just been a failure of a day---- In that moment, I certainly wasn’t showing my children the unconditional love of God. I was showing them a mommy who was DONE. Kid time was over. (And I think I actually said that) I love my children dearly and I believe that they are blessings. But for the past 14 hours, I had been with them non stop… and I just needed this day to end. But here’s the thing… children aren’t like that.
They have been with us for 14 hours and they still aren't tired of us. They aren’t done. They don’t think to themselves, “Hey mom didn’t read me enough books, and I didn’t really like that snack she made. She seems so grumpy” After a long day with mommy---- a mommy who blew it and failed to be Christ like more than I care to admit--- they just wanted another snuggle.
“You could cuddle me in my bed…”---- whispered my 4 year old. And my hard heart was softened.
When I am the one who should be showing them the great love of God…. here was my 4 year old… overlooking a long day’s worth of sin, and offering Love. The way our children so depend on us, how they long to be with us (even if they are at times at tad clingy), how they smile the biggest smiles upon our arrival after being separated for a mere 2 hours…. this is the Gospel for a weary mama. To be reminded that God is patient, that God delights in us, His children! That He longs to be with us! That even after we fail miserably, God looks upon us and declares “Come unto me, you who are weary and I will give you rest”. He doesn’t shake his head and say “try again another day.” or “I really wish you humans would get it together and do this life thing a little better…. I am done'”
So thankful that God isn’t “Done with me”. So thankful my children are never “Done with me” (maybe when they are teenagers they will be done with me, but I hope not!)
I pray that my heart would be more inclined to love well and to sacrificially lay down my life for my family that I might better show them God’s un-ending love. I pray that I would have less days where I feel “done” and more days where I feel like I’ve “done well”. And by “done well”, I mean Loved well, where I persevere, rest in Christ, and enjoy the blessings He has given me.
So tomorrow--- I am sure I will be overwhelmed, I am sure I will blow it, I am sure there will be chaos and disobedience, and lots of noise. And come 8:00 I will be tired and weary----- but instead of throwing in the towel and just longing for the day to end…. I will go in for the extra cuddle, I will sing 1 more song, I will have pillow talk an extra minute. I will remind my children that regardless of how hard our day has been, my love for them will not waiver. For these moments --- these Gospel moments--- are what our children will remember. They will see our deep love for God overflowing in our deep love for them.
I will fight against the attitude of my heart being “done” with this….. and seek the One who will hopefully say one day “Well done my good and faithful servant” .