Want to know what I do at the end of most long days of raising three kids 4 and under? I sit down with a glass of wine (yes, wine) and run through how I failed them. I replay the good and sometimes leave the bad on repeat and tell myself I’ll do better next time. I sit down with my husband bone tired and we wonder if we are doing enough. Are we raising kids who will become adults who will one day add good to the world? It causes deep angst because this my job but unlike a job there is no formula. There is no progress report. Parenting is often one step forward and two toddler steps back. It’s almost too much to bear and I stay up late at night wondering if I’m too hard on my daughter, too lenient on my son, or if I’m missing it all with our angel baby of a third child.
My striving exhausts me and I end up praying God will forgive me for failing at such an important task. Because this is important. Then I remember how God loved us, how what was most monumental about his time on earth was how well he loved the people in the middle of this mess we call life and then he died so we might all be clean enough to stand before God. He hung on that cross and told us there was no line now, no distance we could run, no scale we could tip that would push us out of his grace. That seems unfair, too easy, but we don’t want fair we want grace and the two can’t live in the same land.
Then as clear as day I know what my kids need, more than clean clothes and perfectly healthy meals (because lets be real that’s a pipe dream at this point anyway) they need to know I choose them. They need to know that there’s no line that they can cross that will cost them a relationship with me.
Ben and I decided long ago, maybe a month after Claire was born, that there was nothing our kids could do that would cost them us. We choose them. That’s what our kids need. They need to know that the line doesn’t exist because choosing them doesn’t mean we don’t also choose God. Our culture is an alluring mess full of temptations so decide now, while they are still toddling around in diapers and drooling out “MAMA” what you will choose. Decide now because you don’t know what lies ahead. Decide now and prepare them for the world. Equip them, teach them, and encourage them but when they get too old to hold please have already made up your mind that you will love them no matter what they come home and tell you.
Gay. Abortion. Alcoholic. Drugs. Sleeping around. Dropping out. Moving out. Atheist. The list could go on.
Or maybe it’s just something little like you always dreamed of playing football with your son and he likes singing. Maybe your daughter love princesses and you wanted her to play softball. Maybe you had dreams and they may seem silly to some but when your child turned another way it crushed you.
Decide now. Decide what will die, your dreams or your relationship with the son or daughter God gave you.
Decide, do you have higher standards than Jesus?
To the woman at the well Jesus said come to me and have life. (John 4)
To the tax collector in the tree, come eat dinner with me. (Luke 19)
To the adulterer king, I will birth Gods son through your lineage. (2 Samuel 7:16)
To the prostitute, let me give you a future. (Joshua 2)
You know what our kids need, a home that tells them they are loved. Parents that say, if God forgives you then of course I do too. Here’s what they really need, more than great educations and wonderful sports programs and the latest and greatest toys and clothes. To believe that they are loveable no matter what quirk you or the world says they have.
Here’s the best part about the God who saved my wreck of a life at 19, he never asks us to choose him or people, when he died for us he choose all people. When I came home you know who was waiting, my family. The people who had every reason to turn their back on me were miraculously the ones who never left and nothing besides the blood of Jesus has changed me more than that love. Somehow though in the middle of intense political tensions Christians have forgotten that to convey truth we don’t have to withhold love. If sin wasn’t a good enough reason to keep Jesus from me then it certainly isn’t a good enough reason to keep me from my kids.
Do I have dreams for my kids? Of course. Do I want them to take the path less traveled toward a God who loves them? Always. Will they know my heart when sin entangles them? Without a doubt. More importantly though, they will know that my door stands open, prayers will be lifted on their behalf, and I will believe God can rescue them even when they don’t think they need to be rescued. I will be waiting, not when they clean up their life but when they come home covered in filth. I will be waiting to be the kind of love I know this world will never show them.
Truth and love can live in the same home. Sin will cost the ones we love a lot but it should never cost them a relationship with us.
8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.