When we have kids no one really warns us about how hard parenting is. We’re so caught up in the excitement of having a baby that we don’t even think of the fact that that baby is going to grow up into a person. A person with his/her own individual set of likes, dislikes, characteristic and tendencies, which may or may not be like yours at all. To top it all off, get this, if you have more than one kid, they are all going to be different! You better be ready to wear a lot of different hats.
I had my first son when I was very young. He was a good baby, then he turned 3. I don’t know what happened. All I know is that I had a difficult time managing him. He was always distracted, he didn’t want to listen… ever, and he thought he was always right. He was also charismatic, loving, creative, loyal, passionate and kind. Plus, truth be told I don’t think I really knew how to parent. I was winging it.
Then I met my husband and he immedietly fell in love with my son and wanted to do all kinds of fun things with him and spend time with him, he also wanted me to discipline him and I thought he was right, but I didn’t know how. So, together, we began learning how to parent. It was fabulous!!!! Until, my son found out. He didn’t like it. Boy, he didn’t like it.
From that moment on, it was an all out battle. Lots of tears. Lots and lots of tears.
Let’s fast forward a little and say that sometimes my husband and I were united and sometimes, I thought he was too harsh, so I compensated and sometimes he thought I was too soft, so he got harsher. It’s really a no win situation. Especially for the kid. (Thankfully, my husband and I made it through these years and we are still in love and we are still best friends.)
Then, I found Jesus (not that he was ever lost, I was). Wonderful, glorious Jesus and he was going to fix my family (which now included two more boys). But, shortly following I also found religion and legalism and lots of parenting advise from wonderful people who truly meant well.
Here was the problem. There tends to be an underlying current in the church that Christian kids are supposed to be different. They are not supposed to make the same mistakes as other kids. They are not supposed to think about sex, they are not supposed to lie, they are not supposed to cheat, steal, be disrespectful or question you on anything and if they do, you have somehow failed as a parent and as a child of God raising kids. You fail and so does your kid.
This creates an environment where all you focus on is external behavior because, well, you don’t want to be a failure and your heart really longs to be pleasing to God, so if your kid acts right, your golden. If he doesn’t you are judged as a christian and as a parent and as a person. No one means to make you feel this way. Everyone is genuinly trying to help. But, this is what leaglism and old covenant thinking void of Grace (which is the person and power of Jesus) creates.
I wish I could go back and tell my son how wonderful he was. I wish I could have shown him who he is in Christ and give him the grace to grow in it. Instead, I was offended and appauled when he did something wrong. I am certain I made that kid feel ashamed and discouraged with himself more times than I care to admit. This is where I truly failed. It was not that my kid made a mistake, it was that I let him think that that mistake defined him.
It makes me sit here and tear up just thinking about it. But you can’t give what you don’t have. And, I had no idea how much God loved me. I had no idea how beautiful and powerful his grace is. I saw God as a punisher and a judge, so that’s what I became to my son. And, I am so sorry.
Shame only draws us deeper into sinful behavior. Guilt only drives the force of sin and steals our God given identity. And, thats what happened. He got lost. However, one thing I think I did do correctly is in the midst of all of our mistakes, I somehow managed to teach him the name of Jesus and I believe he has never doubted that I love him.
Jesus and love. I loved him as best as I knew how.
My son is an amazing man with a wonderful family, in spite of all our mistakes, he is going to be okay. At the end of the day God’s faithfulness to him is not dependant on me. Thank God!
God uses all things for good. Including our mistakes when we let go of them and stop letting them define us.
I have also never stopped praying and believing that he would find the same acceptance and love in Christ that I have found and then some. I have prayed that he would learn to let go of “self” and “self-effort” in exchange for the finished work of Jesus and the power of God in his life. This is the greatest gift I can give him. Depending on your own abilty to stay strong and buckle down will only get you so far.
Son, you ARE a new creation in christ. You are accepted and loved, just as you are. God sees you as perfectly clean, white as snow. Beloved and blessed in his eyes. He adores you and so do I. Let go of the old and welcome the new. Let go of self and learn to trust God completely. I am continually praying for you in this.
I am also excited to see you grow into the identity that you have always held inside of you. It is going to be an amazing ride. I love you.
The devotional is also available as a free download here.
Being loved by Him, with you,
Keep it real,
BIO: Daveda Schmidlin is a happy wife, mother, and grandmother. She is a speaker, teacher, author and former pastor who is passionate about the Gospel of Grace. Her message is sincere, encouraging, simple and profound. Her words will set people free from condemnation and will help usher them into a deeper revelation and understanding of God’s great love.