My greatest accomplishment in life was going to be raising good kids. I just knew I was going to be good at this. I had worked at a daycare for 4 years and basically that qualified me to diagnose every problem child and what their parents had done wrong. I was that person that would look at your child and frown at their bad behavior and secretly tell myself that my child "would NEVER do that". I felt being a Christian qualified me to do a better job than other people, because doesn't the Bible say, "Train your child in the way they should go and when they are old they won't depart from it." I don't know how old, old is but it looks like it might be OLLLLLDDDD. I thought I had it all figured out. I was going to raise missionaries, pastors, and super star Christian athletes.
If my greatest accomplishment is raising good kids, then my greatest fear in life is WHAT IF? What if I royally screw these people up? The worst moment of my life was realizing, shortly after my oldest was born, that I SUCK AT THIS. I'm selfish and I have anger issues and like I need sleep and I just want to be left alone. Sometimes (well a lot), I yell and scream over NOTHING. Sometimes my mental issues interfere in my plan for perfect parenting.
Just as an example I had a freak out on my 12 year old daughter the other day, because she wouldn't play a game of hide & seek with her younger brothers. I went in my room and cried like a baby and asked myself WHY are you acting like this... I realized it's because my baby girl is growing up and in a few years she won't be here and in a few years after that they will all be grown and gone and we won't have any rowdy, little children running around the house screaming... ALL OF THAT over a preteen not wanting to play a game. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME???
It didn't take too long after entering into this parenting thing to realize that there was no way I could accomplish my life's work of raising good kids, because I am not a good person. I can try real hard and I can fake goodness on the outside, so that people are convinced of my goodness, but God and I know my heart.
The Bible says, "There's none good, not one." and "Our hearts are deceitfully wicked" and "There's none who seek God."
Parenting has exposed my sinful heart more than anything ever could before it. I've been humbled and convinced that "no good thing dwells in me". Where does that leave my life's work of raising good kids? Fear dominated my days and nights. I fretted and worried about their future. I tried to control every aspect of their lives and protect them from any influences I deemed negative. I had no peace, worrying that they would be bad. I fixated on character flaws and did Internet searches to see if they were displaying signs of some future disorder. I was consumed with fear, so I parented in fear. My children knew they couldn't do anything right and felt hopeless under my scrutiny... Much like I felt when I tried to work to earn God's favor. I have lived so much of my adult life trying to be good enough for God and I always seemed to fall short.
All that changed one day. The Bible says, "He sets the captives free." I guess my self-imposed prison sentence was over and the Bible was the key to set me free.. Reading Ephesians 1 for a Bible study I was doing, rocked my world.
"Blessed be the God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love." vs 3-4
You should really go read the whole chapter, but I'm going focus on this one thing... God chose me and blessed me and MADE ME BLAMELESS. This is NOT a work I did on my own. This is actually ALL GOD on my behalf. I am not only blameless, but I am LOVED. None of which is dependent upon my good behavior. This is the gospel (good news)... that I am now accepted BECAUSE of the work that Jesus Christ did on the cross.
When I soaked in the truth that God's grace was enough to cover my imperfect, not having it all together, emotionally handicapped self, I started to walk in that grace and live in that grace and then somehow that grace transformed my parenting. I realized the one thing that God the Father did that I needed to emulate was lavishing my children with GRACE. Letting them know that there was nothing that they could do to separate them from my love. Letting them know that I don't have it all together and that I make mistakes, so I know they will too. Letting them know that it doesn't matter what the future holds, my love for them will never diminish.
This changed the way I read the Bible as well... I remember the first time I read Genesis through the filter of God's AMAZING grace. The people transformed before my eyes. People like Abraham, who had once been a hero of the faith, turned into the flawed human he had always been, loved and blessed by an incredibly faithful, redeeming God. As I continued to read in each family I saw the same exact thing... seriously flawed humans loved by God and guided by His hand. The real breakthrough for me was looking at Jacob and his 12 dysfunctional sons.
Jacob was not an all-star Father. His sons would probably be in prison today. They were a motley crew of sinfulness... but they were chosen by God to be "THE" 12 tribes of Israel. The story of their lives is so messy I sometimes blush in embarrassment and wonder just what was God thinking when he chose this bunch, but God did and I'm personally thankful. No matter what my children become in the future I can always look to Jacob's family and have peace that NOTHING is past God's forgiveness and grace.
Fast forward to that night in Bethlehem and those shepherds out in that field and the angel who said "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to YOU this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." and then a multitude of heavenly host praising God and saying: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, GOODWILL toward men!" Luke 2:10-11,14
Nothing had changed... Men had not suddenly become good and deserving of God's grace. He interjected Himself into our stories and redeemed all of our ugliness and laid it on His Son. That baby that came into the world 2000 years ago changed everything. He redeems our mess and brings beauty from our ashes. Because of that baby in a manger, who later hung upon that cross, and rose again to conquer the grave, I can have joy, peace, and rest that extends to my children. To God be the glory... A baby changes everything!