Has this ever happened to you? Ten minutes into the sermon a number flashes up on the screen. You recognize it as your two year old’s children’s church identification number. Several things go through your mind as you rustle through your purse looking for your matching i.d. card.
“Maybe Jason should go this time. Oh darn, he’s preaching!”
“I’m sure it’s just potty/diaper related.”
“Why must we sit on the front row?!”
“Who did he bite this time?”
You grab your jumbo neon diaper bag hoping that the non verbal message will be clear, “I’m sure it’s just a diaper change…see, here is my big huge diaper bag.”
You get back to the classroom where a sobbing blonde, curly-haired girl is being comforted by a helper and your two year old son walks over smiling, reaching up his hands to you and you notice a clump of blonde curly hair is entangled in his chubby little fingers! Red-faced and suddenly sweating, you try to discreetly remove the hair from his fingers, apologize profusely, and take your little perpetrator out of the room.
Sometimes, what flashed up on the screen as my child’s identification number felt, in fact, like my identification number. My parenting skills, or lack thereof were on display for all the world to see…or so it seemed for that five minutes.
That is a silly and somewhat exaggerated example of my joy in parenting being robbed by my child’s embarrassing bad behavior. But it represents what is still my tendency, which is to look to my children as little monuments to my inability as a mother. When I hear them arguing, I think, “they do this because I haven’t trained them to be peacemakers.” When I see them being lazy, I think, “They do this because I have indulged them far too much.” When I hear the harsh words coming out of their mouths I think, “those are words they have heard from my own mouth!” And rather than be in a position to help them, I’m crippled by the idea that I’m ruining my children. I’m a failure as a mother, and therefore I don’t view my children as a blessing or a reward – I view them as exhibitions of my sin and failure.
The fact of the matter is that I have sinned and failed many, many times as a mother. We are going to talk more about what to do with that sin and failure in another post, but there is another perspective we can have of our children’s public and private displays of sin, even if they are the result of our own insufficiencies as moms. First, my faith increases as I realize that God, the all-seeing One, is looking at my little family and showing me what I need to see in my children’s hearts. This is not to discourage me, it’s to invite me to be part of the process of rescuing this child, restoring this child, and bringing this child to Jesus, his Savior. Second, it’s good for me to see their sins as connected to my own sin because it’s humbling, and I can come alongside them in the process of change rather than try to be above them as if I’ve arrived. Hopefully, I’m more mature in those areas now so I can tell them that I too struggle with that sin, but I have also seen where God has and is continuing to change me. There is far more hope and joy in viewing ourselves as instruments in God’s hands to help our children come to Christ and grow in their faith than to view ourselves as moms whose identity is wrapped up in our children’s success or failure. They are going to make us proud (in the best sense of the word) and they are going to make mistakes – often on the same day! The blessing is that we have the privilege of being part of this process of seeing with eyes of faith where God is at work exposing both strengths and weaknesses so that we can guide them through both to Jesus, who will forgive them, change them, and use them for His glory alone.