Christina Fox is a homeschooling mom, licensed mental health counselor, writer, and coffee drinker, not necessarily in that order. She lives in sunny S. Florida with her husband of fifteen years and their two boys. You can find her sharing her faith journey at toshowthemJesus and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ToShowThemJesus.
It was one of those days, the kind of day where nothing goes right. After the second tantrum in a row, I looked at my son and said, "You are going to have to calm down and get control of yourself or you'll miss out on visiting your friends later." It had been a busy morning and he was tired. I was tired too, especially of his emotional outbursts. He frowned, shook his head and said in a tearful voice, "Mommy, I can't stop. I can't get control of myself."
My almost five-year old often has more insight than I do. It’s true, he can't always obey. This is a truth that took me many years to learn.
I can't get everything right.
I used to live as though Jesus only saved me from eternal punishment, now it's up to me to become a better person. Sometimes people view Christianity as an opportunity for a fresh start. They think that Jesus wipes the slate clean and they get to start over again. But this time, they better get it right. They try hard to be a "good Christian" and follow all the rules.
Only that's not the gospel.
My pastor said recently, "You are not made holy by something you don't do, but by something Jesus has done." My growth as a Christian doesn't happen because I stop a particular sin or get myself under control. Rather, it's Jesus’ perfect life given to me. It's His sacrificial death that secured for me a place at the feet of my Abba. And it's because of Jesus that my Father looks at me and sees righteousness.
Trying to get everything right has become a big problem for me in my parenting. I’ve put pressure on my children that they need to get everything right as well. In doing that, I’ve distorted the truths of the gospel. Instead of reflecting grace, I often reflect legalism.
I don’t want my children to grow up thinking that being a Christ follower means they have to get everything right. I want them to live in the joy that comes from knowing that Jesus already did everything right for them. I want them to live a life of gratitude, loving their Savior because He loved them enough to die for them.
If my children live life as though they could do it on their own, it would be hard for them to see their need for a Savior. I want them to face the reality of their sin; that they are in fact more sinful than they realize. But I also want them to know that they are more loved than they could ever imagine. I want them to know that no matter how great their sin is, God’s grace is greater still.
And when it comes to obedience, I want my children to rely not on their own strength to obey, but in the strength of Christ. Because trying to grow in holiness on our own is like trying to run a race while being chained in place. Who can do that?
Sometimes I need my children to remind me that they can't get everything right. When my son told me that he was struggling and couldn't win the battle against sin that day, I looked into his tear filled eyes and said, "You're right. You can't. But God can. Let's pray for His power to help you."
My daily prayer as a parent is that I help my children remember that they can’t, but God can, and He did.