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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

redemption, part 3.1

This is for sure the longest blog I've ever written, so here is part one. Well, of part three.
Oh goodness.
Here is part one and part two.
Put some toothpicks in your eyelids and give it your best shot.

There I was, sitting in a normal-looking bible study with women who looked back at me with kind eyes. I’m pretty sure at some point I shed some tears, because – that’s what I do all too often, but they were understanding and helpful with their words. I was pretty broken over my son’s sin – his horrible behavior that felt insurmountable to me. The challenge ahead of me to shepherd and guide him well was so intense and I didn’t know where to go with my all my fears. Fears that he might not ever meet Christ, fears that I wouldn’t teach Him God’s word well, fears that he was just going to be an extra hard case to parent. The real problem with this story comes in when I tell you my little baby Elias was only seven months at the time. Please laugh. Please laugh or gasp or something. Who cries over the sin of a seven month old, or goes into hot sweats at the thought of having already screwed it all up. Me, that’s who.

In all seriousness, a little while ago I had to have a serious conversation with my sister where I repented and apologized for my sins of judgement against her. A few years ago, I thought I had parenting all under control – what with my well behaved six month old who took two naps a day and got a nightly bath and bible story. I couldn’t understand why my three & four year old nieces disobeyed – shouldn’t the shepherding be done by age two?

Ugh, unfortunately I’m not totally kidding about my pride and disillusionment with what it really meant to raise children. Fast forward to Elias’ first birthday and in my heart – I feared he was broken. He cried in the car all of a sudden, sometimes DIRECTLY disobeyed my requests and played with his poop. I thought pressing in on the discipline would help. When Glory was born, my control slipped farther and farther away as I had his toddler woes increasing and one of the strongest willed children growing by the day. At six months old when Glory was doing chin-ups on our king size bed and thrusting her head when she was angry – I feared for my life a little bit.

The problem was, though I’d repented of the idea that children were meant for my enjoyment – I’d made an idol out of the idea that I was responsible for raising them. I knew the product of teaching and guiding them was not meant to be my enjoyment or pleasure, but it sure as heck was going to be a good, finished product if I had something to say about it.

Unfortunately, I am the most sinful part of the child-raising equation. If anything can mess it up, it’s me. The Lord designed the post-fall-family sensibly – there are children who have a great need for Jesus and a Savior who can fill the greatest of needs. If we point party A to party B, it wouldn’t be so complicated but it seems we need to confuse EVERYTHING, right?

Because in all honesty moms – we don’t want sinners for children, do we? We want children who are precious and the right amount of precocious and daring while still being respectful. We want them to pray before their meals as soon as they learn to talk and goodness gracious, we’d like for them to nap. If you think you don’t want your children to be that, I promise you want someone else’s to be. It’s so much easier to see these sweet image bearers of God on our scale of productivity, rather than seeing them as our greatest ministry – depraved humans in need of our gentle instruction and loving guidance.

As the Lord has begun to shift my heart about this, I’m amazed at how frightful the lists are that I’ve been putting on my children. I have essentially asked them to behave as if they are sanctified, even though they aren’t and when they do not meet my standards, some of which I’ve never explained to them, I just tell them to be different. Moreover, I noticed the disgusting nature in which I would judge other mothers or their children when they shockingly behaved like lost little two year olds. Would I rip a homeless person off the street and berate them for not tithing? I wouldn’t share Christ with someone by beginning with a hearty rebuke about their lack of time spent in the Word. Likewise – my time with my children cannot be spent solely on disciplining them for the extra-biblical lists that they just don’t understand. What, Elias? You didn’t know it’s strange to lick the window? Glory, have I not yet explained to you that hitting isn’t an appropriate way of acquiring a toy? Well, I have – but since you have the memory of a two year old and the passion of your mother… let me explain it again. Patiently, this time.

My children did not ask to be born with sinful, hard hearts.

Why in the world would I put the burden of reforming themselves on them without lifting a finger to help them carry that great load? Instead the beauty of this burden, carried together, could hopefully point them to Christ when they realize that regeneration in Him is the only agent of change.

part 3.2 tomorrow:)


Anonymous said...

Jessi I am so thankful for your words. I think this is something we have to be aware of, even fighting against as Christian parents. I too have lists for my kids. And I've noticed other people have lists too. We have been on the receiving end of harsh judgments about our little boys. Why? Because they are not always respectful and kind? Or because they occasionaly use their hands to solve a problem rather than their words? People have told us our boys are so much worse than other boys the same age, even more saying that our explaining that the boys were sinners who need Jesus was a cop out. If we were really good parents our boys wouldn't talk back or throw balls at parks. But really? Their sin is nothing new. Look at the men in the bible. Brothers killing or selling their brothers into slavery, for example. Our kids need jesus. And we are doing what we can as parents to help them love and walk with Jesus.

Annie said...

Oh man this is a good word. Thank you Jess.

Marilee said...'s one thing to be crushed and burdened about our kid's sin, another thing to be crushed in fear of man when our kids sin! Gosh I love our kids. thanks for writing this.

kellybollman said...

not too long. really really good
it's shocking to see that in God's economy and grace... there is soo much more fruit than there ever should be as they grow. I don't know. I'll just call it grace. My babies should be screwed up, but yeah, there's grace.

Ashley said...

Your blog is so refreshing and honest. Thank you for putting into words what so many of us mommas feel. Praise Jesus that He is in control!

Karly said...

Love it, love it! Excited for part 3.2 :)

jill said...

jessi, good words. for me, just start the mental train at "Unfortunately, I am the most sinful part of the child-raising equation."

getting past that reality and it's paralyzing effect on my (non)motivation is the hard part for me.

the only answer is for me to go to the well myself, and hopefully they will see the water.

simple truths. thanks for sharing. i journal deep and dark but just can't share these things on the internet for a variety of reasons. bless you, sister.

Kathy said...



"I’d made an idol out of the idea that I was responsible for raising them."

I was so there too {there, as in, still there, finding my way out...}
It's amazing how humbling parenting is. We render these little cherubs for the glory of our God, not our own. Such a good reminder.

Love your heart. thanks for sharing.