The last couple nights for us have been all about taking care of a sick 1-year old. And last night after the 3rd or 4th time being vomited on, I couldn't help but realize: Parenting is messy. And it doesn't stop when your kids get older, the messes just transfer. What once meant dirty diapers and colic turns into patterns of rebellion and sin, which then turn into first accidents, speeding tickets, and overdrawn bank accounts. Even when children become adults, it can still be messy as they make decisions that don't reflect what you taught them growing up.
Let's face it, as parents we spend much of our energy pouring into our children with a faith that we know has the power to transform their hearts. And when we're confronted with the reality of a world that is set against a biblical worldview, the end result is a mess. Sin destroys the perfect picture God designed for us, where parents pour into their children and a legacy of faithfulness is built. And we're left with how John Piper described their journey through a wayward child: tears. In the messiness of raising children, I want to give three words of encouragement:
1. Cling to your surest hope, Jesus. We can't escape the reality of difficulty, but we can always run to the One who has overcome. Jesus promises to be enough for us. Paul reminds us that His grace is sufficient. When it feels like everything we do is failing, run back to the one who promises that in Him we can find our everything. And from that surest hope comes the answer. Our kids, more than anything else, need to find their ultimate joy and delight in Jesus.
2. Channel your frustration to prayer. One of the hardest things to swallow as a parent is that our own sinfulness shows up in our kids. In them we see all of our best and our worst qualities. And because of that, we get frustrated and we wonder why they don't "get it." We forget that they are fallen, as are we, and because of that they'll do things that hurt, frustrate, or even disappoint us. And when those moments happen where it feels like the walls are caving in, channel all of that energy to prayer. Prayer not only for them but also for yourself. God has often used our kids to expose my own sin, and in those moments of frustration I've seen a bigger call: repent.
3. Center your home on the Gospel. Perhaps the best word to describe the message of the Gospel is "Freedom." And the result of being transformed by the freeing message of the Gospel is we turn to others and plead with them to let Jesus break their chains. Our homes are no different. If Jesus has set us free, our homes should reflect that freedom. Because God has forgiven us by grace in Christ, are we as parents and spouses going to forgive each other and our kids because of grace? Are we going to serve each other in a way that only Jesus can empower us to? Are we going to sacrifice our finances for the freedom of others through giving? And are we going to model before a confused world what the greatest picture of the Gospel is, a marriage that reflects the beauty of His relationship with the Church?
If you're in Murray, our church is hosting a "Workinar" for parents called It's Just a Phase. It's on February 27th from 5:30-8pm. The cost is $30 and it's worth your time and money to be there.
Scott M. Douglas
A blog about leadership and the lasting legacy of family ministry.