A new mother wrote to me last week worried about whether she will be a good enough example to her child as he grows up.
I remember entering into parenthood terrified myself. I hadn’t always walked with Jesus, and I believed in “bad kid karma.” You know, when your mother says to you, “I hope when you grow up you get a daughter JUST LIKE YOU.” I had been a tough kid, so I thought my odds were pretty good that my daughter would turn out to be just like me — a challenge to say the least.
I strived and strained for years to be that perfect blend of kindness and sweetness, stressing nightly over my repeated failures and crying buckets of tears. Until one day, this simple verse literally jumped right off the pages of Scripture and into my heart:
“My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness” – 2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV
Covered by grace
The weaknesses that I have as a woman, a wife, as a mother, are not what my children see. They don’t hear the voices in my head or the struggles in my heart; they just see mama. His grace, mercy and all encompassing unconditional love completely cover my faults and failings. As parents we must never underestimate the power of God to minimize our failures and shortcomings and maximize the things we do right in the eyes of our children. That’s not just sufficient grace; it’s Amazing Grace.
The jig is up
I remember a few years ago I had gathered up my troop for a trip to Costco. I usually don’t grocery shop. That’s something David would rather do. But I had begun this day feeling particularly accomplished, so I set out for the store with all 13 (at the time) in tow. By the time we got parked and out of the car I had already lost my temper. Yelling and sarcasm had won, and I seethingly marched into Costco wondering what had possessed me that coming here even seemed like a good idea anymore. Twenty minutes into the trip a mother stopped my family and began a barrage of questions. “Your mother must have the patience of a saint!” She remarked loudly. “I’ll bet she never loses her temper!”
Uh-oh. The jig is up. These kids are going to skewer me and tell her I just went Richter in the parking lot.
But those sweet, innocent faces just blinked back at her and glowed about how patient and loving I am. I thought right then and there they all either deserved Academy Awards for their stunningly sincere performances, or they suffered from short-term memory loss.
But when I asked them back in the car why they had answered that woman that way — why they had told her I was so patient after I had clearly lost my cool just a few minutes before — they just blinked at me.
“Aw mom, you weren’t so bad,” said Daly Kay. “No big deal! You ARE patient and loving!”
The magnitude of His grace flooded my heart and with quivering lips I asked for their forgiveness of my short fuse. I couldn’t even remember what had made me so angry earlier in the parking lot, but I know I’ll never forget the looks on their faces or the peace that moment gave my soul.
The perfect example
So, mama who’s worried about being a good enough example–you’re asking the wrong question.
The right question is “Is Jesus a good enough example?”
And if so, then rely on His grace, His wisdom and Spirit to lead and guide you day by day. Your weaknesses and shortcomings are opportunities for God’s grace to be multiplied and magnified in the eyes of your children.
In the meantime, I hope you find peace and joy in your new precious gift from God: your little baby. I hope you are beginning to understand His amazing love for you as your heart begins to explode with love for this child. Multiply that feeling inside of you to infinity and you begin to have a glimpse of His unfailing love for you. And with a Heavenly Father who loves you like that, surely you cannot fail at this parenting thing. Your example is not the one in question — His is. And His amazing grace is more than sufficient to cover your every fault and failure in the heart and mind of your child.