When you were a kid–didn’t you just love slip and slide plastic all covered with water? The faster the better! We all have our stories, I’m sure. While most slides in our bathing suits may have proved an epic success–I can think of a few slippery fails that ended in injury, blood, wedgies, and arguments.
As a parent, I strive to train, encourage, steer, and construct boundaries for my kids to run their race on–and sometimes I forget to pull my hands away, stand back, breathe, and become only a cheering spectator with a camera. As anyone who’s attempted to fly down a sloping wet slide knows, falling is inevitable and sometimes–I forget to allow them to do it–without freaking out. Fall–you ask? Yes, sometimes, I must let my children spin and wobble in personal moments of failure. It is my greatest prayer though that they’ll absorb the results of their choices and take responsibility. As a parent, releasing them to choose is not easy for me. I often want to protect, fix, manage, and I want their lives to reflect the perfect plan of my own making–surely that’s God’s will for them too, right? Boy, do I have a lot to learn.
In these crucial times of testing, everyone seems to hold opinions on how we should train our children. The process of allowing my kids freedoms to make decisions on their own, doesn’t always fair well to onlookers though. I accept that taking training risks as a parent has the potential to become the topic of gossip, stinging criticism, and sever relationships. That’s where the courage steps in. As a Christ following parent, I must press on to that which God has called me to. Most days, I don’t learn best from my successes–and my kids are no different. In all honesty–teaching them how to fly may very well prove painful.
Even this past week, our little one’s made a few decisions that didn’t turn out too well. I gave our son freedom with his buddy and after they made their way into the chicken cottage–a few chickens got thrown up into the rafters. Our son also re-broke his friend’s newer toy sword at the park–just after my gut felt a squirm when it entered his hands. Our youngest daughter struggled in an advanced dance rehearsal to keep up with her teacher’s instructions and our twelve-year-old daughter had to sweep up her grandma’s shattered glass bowls off the laundry room floor. These are the kind of moments that leave me with a heavy heart as a mom so, you won’t find much of it on my social media pages. Rather,you’ll continue to get positive posts from me, but life isn’t perfect is it? So, why do we think our families or churches will meet a perfect standard? In my opinion, it’s plain fantasy.
In the daily family fails, the extension of forgiveness, encouragement, and loving grace is so necessary to turn things around and grow. Now, what about the loving grace that other families are in need of–is that our responsibility too? Does God call us to extend loving grace to those who make deliberate choices that end in moral failure? We can’t avoid struggling people, marriages, and families smattered all over the front pages of magazines and yes, even our well-landscaped churches contain broken marriages, addictions, fear, gossip, idols, and pride. So, here’s a question. When was the last time we took our immediate thoughts captive, took responsibility, and asked God to help us extend empathy instead? When was the last prayer we lifted on someone’s behalf or extended a grace-filled attitude towards another person? I don’t believe we’re doing it enough, do you? It’s just so easy to make a passing judgement, gripe, and mosey on our way. Those around us are all real people, with real struggles, with real pain, in real need, and God loves them. Let me repeat that, God loves people. May God forgive our failings as His beloved. How will anyone learn about God’s forgiveness, grace, and hope unless they see and hear it in us first? Let’s remember, if anyone holds the tools and is called to show true grace–it’s us.
I believe the time of our testing is here and the time of our choosing maturity is now–so what will we do–
will we glorify God or will we fail?
“We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.”For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.
May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”
Romans 15:1-7 New International Version (NIV)