Any parent will tell you that there are days where you just feel like a complete and utter failure. You see your weaknesses displayed in all their shameful glory and are amazed that your child hasn’t just packed up and run away yet. You cringe at the thought of all the long-term damage you’re doing to the poor kid and wonder how much money they’ll spend on a therapist’s couch to undo all that you’ve done.
Despite living under that constant condemnation (which loves to piggy-back on our failures and remind us how screwed up we are), it has taken me seven years of parenting to accept the fact that I’m not perfect, but that it’s okay, and that there’s hope for improvement.
Many of my readers know that I whole-heartedly believe in our absolute need for a Saviour (hence, my relationship with Jesus Christ and the gratitude I have for God’s saving grace). And those who know me well, know just how badly I needed to admit my own failures and weaknesses in an effort to heal a broken marriage and correct my life’s wayward path. I wouldn’t be the same if it weren’t for Jesus’ ability to open my eyes to the state of my own hardened heart and my incredible need for His guidance. But all that said, for some reason it took me this long to apply that same humility to parenting. To finally see that it was my own iniquities and pride that was hindering me from being a better parent.
The catalyst for this ah-hah moment was actually a blogger friend sharing how she and her family adopted a foster care child and that in the process, she has had to fight the urge to feel like she “saved” the girl.
“It’s a danger in this situation to feed my savior-complex. To think that I have done something great, that I am saving a child’s life, that I am the answer to all her problems.
But in truth, I am only doing what God asked me to do. And he had to ask me a couple times and in a couple different ways before I said yes.
…the reality is that God brought her to our family because I am an adequate parent, not a great one. I need to be a better parent and this is the way he is orchestrating it.”
Reading this helped me realize that for years I have been believing that I could somehow be a “good enough” parent to deserve kids that turn out alright. That I could do it better than everyone else and the scary stats need not apply to me. Truth is, I am simply an “adequate” parent and left to my own devices, I will screw up the job of parenting just like I’ve screwed up other areas in my life where I tried to do it my own way and in my own abilities. Only with God’s guidance will I ever do a “good enough” job and create an environment where my children can achieve all they are meant for. It is God who knows exactly what’s best for those boys, not me. It would be prideful to think otherwise.
I saw this in my own childhood. My parents had incredible love for us. But like all imperfect people, they made mistakes along the way. Maybe less than others, maybe more than others. But despite the mistakes, they taught (and demonstrated) the most important thing of all — the love of Jesus and our incredible need for relationship with Him. So when all hell broke loose in my adult life, I didn’t freak out. Everyone thought I should freak out. They were waiting for me to freak out. There are certain catastrophes in our lives where society gives us the “right” to freak out. Even if just temporarily. But I didn’t.
Instead, I got on my knees, dropped my face to the floor in humility and repentance, and begged God to help me crawl out of this hole I had made for myself. And day by day, He did just that. Years later, He continues to do more than I could have ever imagined. I asked God to help me out of the hole, but He went even further and perched me atop a glorious mountain. Giving me a 360-degree glimpse at how beautiful He is and how much I’m worth to His heart. My life dramatically improved (and my eternal salvation secured) when I humbled myself and simply admitted that I’ll never be “good enough” on my own.
After finally applying this same humble approach to my parenting problems, God definitely delivered! In a matter of days, I “stumbled upon” a parenting audio series that provided incredible insight and allowed me to pray for specific healing in areas that were holding me back as a parent. I say “stumbled upon”, because those of us who know God know that there are no coincidences. Those parenting CD’s that had been collecting dust under my bed for over four years, moving with us from country to country but without me even knowing it — they were no accident. God knew the exact year, month, and day, that I would need those to show up. He had planned to answer my humble prayer long before the words ever came out of my mouth.
And I changed. Instantly. Because that’s how God rolls. When we humble ourselves, when we truly admit our own inadequacies and look to Him for help, He is over-the-top generous. He waits with great anticipation to lavishly bless us and heal us from our self-inflicted wounds. Some of us spend our whole life in a prison cell, back in the corner with our knees tucked into our chest — but the cell door has been open the whole time. We just had to walk out.
But to walk out, we need Him. To give us eyes that see the door is open. To give us eyes that see our own hardened heart. To give us eyes that see how “good enough” isn’t really enough at all and to finally experience the more than enough that is waiting on the other side of the cell door!
That’s the funny thing about freedom from sin and condemnation — it’s a free gift but we still have to ask for it. And I am glad that I did!