Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Mistake in Parenting

I have made a terrible mistake in my parenting.

A wonderful family sat all 5 of our kiddos overnight so Brian and I could have a little get-away. As we arrived the next day to pick them up we were greeted at the door with a comment that was only part jest, "why did you give you kids so many rules and chores coming over to our house?" When I backed up a little and answered "I didn't" Anthony seem...ed perterbed that he had done the dishes for nothing. The conversation continued, making me come to the deep realization that my kids had taken, what I felt was, an encouragement to be helpful as a law of "Thou Shalt be Helpful".

I rewinded the conversation we had in the car on the way over to this family's house over and over in my mind. I had reminded them that how much we love this family and want to serve them. I had reminded them of our very 1st catechism, "A man's primary purpose is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever." I had reminded them that serving and honoring others glorifies God and brings us true joy. Then I had them say aloud some ways they could serve this family for the day they would be there. Over and over this played in my head. What went wrong? Where did my reminder to serve in love turn into a rule to follow to earn approval?

I am thankful, even "count as joy", this trial and struggle that has come about in my parenting. It has made me dive deeper into the word of God and made me strive only to know Him more. This is my answer as to what went wrong. My kids are only following my mistaken lead. My heart so often drifts to legalism, drifts to works righteousness, drifts to a faith that follows commands rather than obeys out of love. It is my tendancy to have control of my life, to lack of complete surrender. I often can think to myself, "I have this obedience part down," yet forget the grace and love that drove me down the road of obedience in the first place. I forget that my even my best works are "as filthy rags." My kids in turn forgot that God loves and provides grace making them only focus on the task at hand - serve.

The key word is LOVE. God loves me! God loves you! God who could wipe sin and suffering off the planet with one word. God who knows the best for us and offers it freely. God who could have come up with any way to save us from our lives of sin and corruption yet chose a way that would show us exactly how much He loved us. He took the most precious thing to Him, His one and only perfect, sinless Son and poured out the punishment we deserve so that we wouldn't have to bear it. Think of it! Are you a parent? Have you held your child in your arms? What kind of love would you have to have for someone to choose them over that precious life in your arms? Has anyone ever given their life for yours? That is the kind of love your Father in Heaven has for you! That is the kind of love I want so desperately my kids, and the whole world, to come to know!

I have made such a grave mistake to ever use the word "obedience" without properly sandwiching it in between the words "love" and "grace." What a love our Father has for us! What grace we are shown, that we recieve such unmerited favor (Titus 2:11)! Just as you sacrifice your life for your child and count it a joy so to we are called by Jesus, who laid down His life for us, to sacrifice our lives for Him (Luke 9:23). He doesn't just ask this though, He empowers us to do so by giving us a Helper (John 16:7), the Holy Spirit to live in us and guide us as new Christians. Now as Christians, knowing that "faith without works is dead" (James 2:17) and being empowered by God Himself we are to live a life full of good works (2 Peter 1:1-10). This knowledge is where my original encouragement to my children came from. Knowledge that God is Love, knowledge that God surrendered all for them, knowledge that they are now to surrender all for Him, knowledge that He alone will empower them to serve Him!

I want my kids to see themselves as aliens in this life, set apart from the world. I want them to see themselves as lights, full of God's very own features and attributes. For a husband who stands next to His wife and look at their newborn baby (the fruit of her womb) for the first time begin to point out his very own attributes. But if the husband were to not to see his own attributes but his co-workers coloring, nose and lips would he not accuse his wife of adultery? Just the same is that of Jesus, who says He is our husband (Rom 7:4), to look upon the fruit of our deeds and if he were to not see His own attributes (fruits of the Spirit Gal 5:22) but the world's would he not in the same way accuse us of adultery with the world (1 John 2:15)? I want my kids to be faithful spouses to Jesus and not adulterers led away by the pleasing to the eye yet empty promises this world has to offer. I want this for them so I tell them "do this" instead of "He did this."

In my mistake I told my kids to "glorify God" without showing them His awesome and incredible love that spurs His own glory!

Posted by Shannon
Soli Deo gloria - Glory to God alone

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