My husband and I married when we were children, ages seventeen and eighteen. Man, oh man, did we make a lot of mistakes!

We couldn’t grow fast enough. There were too many personal areas in need of change and maturation. In a foolhardy attempt to get there quicker, we fell into legalistic thinking and living for a season. We reasoned that if we cleaned up the outside and tried to keep all the rules, surely the inside would follow suit.

Of course, spiritual growth doesn’t work that way. We couldn’t keep all the rules, yet we grew increasingly rigid as we focused on outward appearance rather than substantive change. The Lord loves us and He loves our children, so He took us through a series of trials and hardships to refine us and to make us into better parents. He led us out of the dark tunnel of rulekeeping and into the light of His grace.

The spiritual and personal growth and maturation of our children was always our greatest concern, especially after such a rough start. It’s a good thing God is merciful and kind. He is patient, and fosters growth from generation to generation.

At this time of Thanksgiving, I give thanks for our children. I thank God for:

  • Their resilience
  • Their strength through hardship as God worked so diligently on their father and me to cause growth
  • Their kind hearts toward others who have suffered
  • Their merciful character that has allowed us to apologize and to make amends for our mistakes
  • Their forgiveness

Having started like this, my heart swells with gratitude as I watch my children grow and progress in their work, in their home lives, in their self awareness and personal development, and in their faith.

Christmas 1987 Rhiannon Boyle via Compfight

Reading Poul-Werner Dam via CompfightCreative Commons License Ed Yourdon via Compfight

All families are dysfunctional. Dysfunction is simply another word for sin. Families are comprised of sinful human beings living together, making mistakes, and working through the aftermath together.

No one is perfect. No one’s children or grandchildren are perfect.

When I praise God for my children and for the growth I witness in their lives, I’m praising Him for:

  • The work He is doing
  • The strong character He has nurtured that enables them to own their stuff and to mature
  • The work ethic God has inspired in them
  • The response to Him that He cultivates in their hearts
  • Their recognition, development, and use of the gifts God has given them

These praiseworthy attributes are all a parent hopes and dreams will develop in their children’s lives. I rejoice to see them surpassing me in every possible way.

Thanks be to God for He is good; His mercies endure forever.