**This 25 Day journey is based on my book “Grace Gifts: Celebrating Your Children Every Day“. You do not need the book to go through “25 Days of Grace“, but if you are interested, you can purchase a copy HERE!
For the next 25 days I will be sharing with you the truths that God has so graciously been teaching my husband and I since we have been on the faith-building journey of parenting. My prayer is that, as we take the time to reflect on how God parents His children, we will be able to more clearly see our own children through the lens of grace!
The first thing I want to do is return to the beginning–to the days when my children were very young. It will give you a little glimpse into how my husband and I began our parenting journey. Let’s get started!
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”Matt. 11:2
“The LORD will accomplish what concerns me; Your lovingkindness, O LORD, is everlasting…”, Psalm 138:8
“For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Philipians 2:13
I was crazy about both of my children from the first time I held them! The only thing I love more than being a mom is being a wife. But the second I saw my babies, I sensed the weight of responsibility I held in my arms. Overwhelmed, I started down the road of motherhood. I was determined to do it “right!” I read all the books, eagerly seeking to learn about how to discipline and train a child. I read about the available schooling options. And I read many theories and opinions on how to raise godly children. My goal was to not allow any harmful influence into our home, so of course I analyzed everything! I had good intentions, but it quickly became obvious that my approach was taking much of the joy out of the learning, growing, and living that God offers us through parenting
As my children approached the ripe old ages of about four and seven, I began to worry about their spiritual maturity and I decided to seek counsel. Fighting back tears, I shared my concerns with my pastor. He was very patient and graciously asked, “Well, what is it that you are expecting from children that age?” He then suggested I begin to pray the following prayer:
“Father, please cause to ring in my children’s ears what You think they need to hear today, and cause them to have understanding on their level.”
Although I was well-meaning and had the sincere desire for my children to love God, I thought that I was the one who would accomplish my every expectation I held for my kids. God had to show me the truth of Psalm 138:8, “The LORD will accomplish what concerns me; Your lovingkindness, O LORD, is everlasting…”, and that it in the same way that this verse rings true in my own life, it is a true for my children as well. It is really up to Him to accomplish every good thing He has planned for my children — and that His plans take time.
During those years, I found myself surrounded by some very well-meaning, sincere people whose parenting style was performance-based and rule-oriented. I was drawn to this approach. On the surface it appeared that these parents were getting positive results, as if a guaranteed outcome would be granted if I just did things “right.” So it made logical sense that if I followed the formula and controlled my children’s environment they wouldn’t rebel. They would love God and be people who possessed certain godly character traits.
After being in this mindset for only a few years, I found myself looking around at the older children who had been parented this way. What I observed were frustrated children who were sincerely attempting to live up to their parents’ expectations of what they defined as godly standards. I saw children whose outside in influences were very controlled. They knew the right words to say and they wore the right clothes, but these kids were not allowed to be themselves. If they expressed their own inner feelings or heart thoughts, they received correction and condemnation. As these children got older, I looked on with sadness as many of them walked away from the church and even their family.
My husband and I came to a crossroads. We were faced with the reality that we were going to have to make some hard choices, so we asked ourselves the following questions: Were we going to force our children to act like, look like, and believe a certain way, keeping them “safe” in the walls of our home and church, or were we going to allow them to be the individuals that God made them to be? Were we going to teach them to think for themselves, or were we going to continue down the rigid, rule-oriented path we were on?
We chose to learn how to parent our kids the way God parents us: with grace. This meant viewing each child as an individual, allowing them to be in a process of growth and learning. With discipline? Of course! But always parenting them with unlimited grace.
God changed our direction and began teaching us how to live the gospel with our children on a daily basis. He taught us how to allow our children the freedom to not be perfect. We began to relax and enjoy these little people all the while guiding them in the right direction as we sought God for wisdom, trusting the promise found in Philipians 2:13 “For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” And that He will do His work in their hearts.
I am very grateful that God was so merciful to us, that He opened our eyes to the destructive path of legalism we were walking. I am also thankful that my husband was wise enough to say, “This is not what I want for my family!” Choosing to walk away from legalism and learning to focus on the grace of God helped us to parent with grace instead of fear. The exhausting weight of rules and legalism was sucking the life out of our family. Learning to walk in the cool shade of God’s grace not only breathed life into our children, it allowed God to bring our whole family to life.
REFLECT AND APPLY:
Where are you in your parenting journey? Do you feel overwhelmed and burdened? Do you find yourself drawn to specific books or programs hoping that they will have an answer that will guarantee that your children will grow up and follow God? Are you at a crossroads? Take some time to pray and ask God to show you if there is something that you are doing that is taking the joy out of parenting and sucking the life out of your family. Ask him to to help you to learn to parent with grace instead of fear. He wants to help bear your burden and to show you what it means to see your children through eyes of grace.