Motherhood was a scary job to step into. I had worked with many kids, so I knew how to keep them alive, but what I didn’t know was how to shape and guide them throughout their lives. My own childhood was marred by an abusive, hypocritical father and left me traumatized of being the same kind of parent. Out of fear, I read so many parenting books, blog posts and studies when I was pregnant with Luke – but what I was searching for was something that could not be obtained. A list of steps to follow in order to become the perfect parent to produce children who all seek the Lord.
I had been wrestling with the question of why didn’t God leave an exact rule book for us to follow? The conclusion I have come to is that God wants to remind me that we are to nurture little hearts and souls rather than just plug a formula into tiny robots.
“The Bible’s aim is to change our hearts so that we desire what God desires, rather than to spoon-feed us answers to every decision of life.” – Jen Wilkin
Reading through the Old Testament recently has given me a stark reminder of how imperfect the Israelites were even though they really were given a set of laws to follow in order to cover their short fall. Moses questioned God, Sarah laughed at Him, Abraham doubted, Jacob wrestled with God, the Israelites saw his amazing power at work in Egypt – All of these people had direct communion with our Heavenly Father and none of them were perfect, nor did all of their children rise up to call them blessed.
There is only one good and perfect Parent and He sent His only Son down to us to cover MY imperfection.
The beauty of the gospel is that works cannot produce faith; parenting and disciplining your children by doing steps A, B, C will not give you results of X, Y, Z. And using the Bible as a rule book is the opposite of the reason Jesus came to the cross to die, He came to abolish the law and set us free from that bondage not to have us place it on ourselves again. The law cannot perfect us, it is not our Savior and it is unable to wash away the sin that is deeply rooted in our hearts. Only through the transforming work of the Holy Spirit and our own acknowledgement for our need for the work on the cross can the hearts of our children be prayerfully changed.
It was a little scary to wrap my head around the fact that there is no exact formula to be a good parent! However, I know how easy it would be to create that law into an idol and forget the amazing mercy that God extended through His Son. The legalistic nature would burden my children’s hearts rather than show them the heart of our Heavenly Father, just as it did during my own childhood.
But what are a few practical ways I can incorporate the gospel into my daily parenting life? Saturating myself in scripture, seeking the Lord, and most importantly – praying for the hearts of my children and pointing them back to the work on the cross. I need to be reminding them moment by moment how much God loves them and how much grace we have been given in abundance.
Does this mean we should throw away every parenting book we’ve ever read and never pick up another? Absolutely not. What it does mean is that we need to examine them all through the lens of the gospel.
My parenting alone will not define my children’s walk with our Creator and I rest in the comfort knowing that their salvation is entirely in His hands. So break free from the bondage that law brings and know that when you are seeking the Lord you ARE parenting well.