Monday, 5 November 2012

Give them Grace

How is it that a just turned 20 year old looks into the eyes of her newly birthed, blue, beautiful baby girl and thinks she knows something? You see, as a new Momma I did, at least I thought I did. I thought I knew a thing or two about this thing we call Motherhood. I thought I would do (or not do) certain things and poof this wonder of a child would turn out ok. Well, not just ok, but perfectly ok. Here's the thing though. She was wrong. I was wrong.

Parenthood is not a certain formula. Sometimes it feels right opposite of what we think we should be doing as does just about all other forms of becoming a servant.

This girl that had all the answers still called her Momma (though she swore up and down she would do many things different) at least once...twice...three times a day. She walked next door to her sweet Aunt's house, tears brimming, saying, "She won't quit crying! I don't know what to do." That Aunt smiled softly, took the wailing baby child and walked her, swayed her, loved her while giving that know-it-all new Momma a break. And that Aunt, she brought the bundled baby back....sleeping.

As the Lord opened my eyes to His ways and drew me unto him through His Son, Jesus, it was then wisdom grew. Slowly, slowly at first and some times all at once this wisdom grew. Almost regretfully, this was many years later and this girl child, she was well on her way to adult hood, or so it seems. It's almost unfair how slowly I have grown up as a Mother compared to how fast these four grow's almost comical.

But what if that is exactly the point? What if the end goal is not a formula, or perfection? What if rather the end goal was seeing our desperate need for the Grace of a Heavenly Father in spite of it all?

The more I parent the more I realise my need for God's unfathomable grace.
It is in these children I see myself.
It was over a year ago that I heard of this book called Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Children with the Love of Jesus by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick, Jessica Thompson and Tullian Tchividjian. And you know what I thought? "That book, it's probably filled with all kinds of heresy!" A book about grace and I assume it's heresy. The secret rule following, Pharisee comes out quite often in the form of thoughts in my brain.  But it wasn't until a dear sister in Christ, whom I trust, spoke quite highly of it and challenged me, so I bought the kindle copy and it's taken me about a full year to get through it.
There have been few books that have broken me wide open besides the Word of God and this is one of them. And here is why:
In America what is it that we value? I can tell you this with confident assessment because, well I lived in Germany for 4 years. This is what we value: 1) convenience 2) convenience 3) convenience and 4) comfort. You know having an ATM at every corner (even the beach) and drive through tellers and pay at the pump gas, and having a cell phone plan that you don't have to write (yes, I said write as in a letter....not electronically) the company 3 months in advance to cancel? Those are the things I missed most (well, besides all my family and friends, of course). The things that irritated me the most about Germany....and most of Europe for that matter.... were the things that inconvenienced me the most.
And we do that with just about everything, I believe. Parenting, marriage, relationships in general though these things are more important than being able to quickly and easily change your cell phone plan, are also things that we want a quick fix for. We want a formula. We even read articles all. the. time. like this one I saw the other day, "3 Ways to have a Healthy Marriage." So if there was a formula for marriage it would look something like this A idea + B idea + C idea = Healthy Marriage. Awesome! Not really. We do that with parenting too don't we? Except that formula might look something like Good Parenting + Obedient Children = Adults that love Jesus.
But what is the problem with that? The problem is that relationships like marriages, and parenting can't be broken down into a simple formula that makes people love the Lord. It doesn't least not for the long haul. It's what I like to call a band-aide solution which doesn't address the deep waters of the heart. It is only by God's grace that, that work is done. Are we faithful to teach, admonish, and discipline when necessary? Of course! We can't forget, however, our children's salvation is dependent NOT on us, it is dependent on the Lord. Salvation is of HIM, not us.
It is this that has be me broken wide. So much of my parenting life has been spent on making sure the outside of the cup was clean instead of washing the inside first. So much of the time I am so worried about what others think that I scold and act harshly towards a child instead of extending grace. So much of the time I want to do what I want to do and bribery is so much more convenient than diving in deep into the heart issue. So much of the time I want to take the credit for what God alone is doing in the hearts of my children in spite of me. Thank you God for grace!

So what is it that our children need? Discipline? Rules? Responsible Parents who chase hard after Christ? Yes! Yes! And Yes! But what is that our children need MOST? Grace? Jesus? The Gospel spoken to their little sinful hearts daily? YES!!
 It is in reminder that, of what is MOST important, that makes the mess on the floor, the clothes shoved into the drawers unfolded....again, harsh words, unthankfulness, potty training...again, and general bit of chaos bearable....enjoyable, even. Because if there is one thing....just ONE thing that I want these 4 to is grace and truth, working hand in hand, on display in our home.
So don't read this book thinking it's going to be a 1, 2, 3 step guide to good parenting. Rather, it is a guide to the one Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ "who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us," (Eph. 3:20) especially in the lives of our most precious possessions.
719. good, convicting reads
720. one girl who loves horses
721. learning about our God, creator
722. smoothies for breakfast
723. confidence in Christ
724. this Month, Nov. reminding us to be thankful...and for Him above all
725. learning about Canada
**I do want to say, though since I'm recommending Give them Grace, that I don't necessarily agree with the author on every single point. So I encourage you to be discerning by working out your own salvation with fear and trembling if you do so choose to read this one!**

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