We’re all going to mess up our kids. It’s a fact. The universal need for the gospel should be all the evidence we need to know that this is true. Every one of us is so thoroughly flawed, that God put on human flesh and came down here to redeem us. That very fact should inform us of the true state of things. It’s so bad that God had to directly intervene to fix it.
We each think we’ll be the exception. In our arrogance, all of us think this. That in itself is more evidence of our universal brokenness. We believe that we, mere humans, can rectify the situation. We’ll read all the right books. We’ll wait until we’re more mature to bear children. We’ll complete years of therapy. We’ll obtain the right education or take the right parental training. Our kids will be fine.
But our kids will be raised by human beings, and one-hundred percent of us are broken. We will be responsible for our kids 24/7, and they will see us at our worst, our most exhausted, our most distracted, when we’re sick, and when our guard is down.
Then, there’s this reality. We won’t know the true state of things until our job is pretty much complete. They will inform us when they’re in their teens and twenties. Until then, we may think we did fine. We got inklings, and we corrected course. We apologized frequently and loved them fiercely. We grew in maturity and made adjustments. We listened and learned and made changes.
But we won’t sort through all of our broken parenting realities (traits we didn’t even know existed) until they’re adults, we see their lives’ fruit and their struggles, and they tell us themselves, usually in injured tones.
When we sort through their interpretations of events that we recall differently, their memories that don’t match our recollections, their awareness of our every hypocrisy, and their pile of evidence of our flawed communication style and broken habits, then and only then will the glaring light illuminate the full extent of our problem.
It’s bad. The flaw is in us. None is righteous; no not one, especially us.
Then there’s also this truth:
“If anyone causes one of these little ones–those who believe in me–to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea” (Matthew 18:6 NIV).
God is on their side. He’s advocating for them, and we will answer for our mistakes.
So where is the hope in this?
The good news is that God already knew this. This is why He sent His Son to die for our sins, to bear our penalty, and to redeem us. He already had the plan in place from before He began creation. He knew Adam and Eve would blow it, thereby affecting each and every one of us and our parenting. This is why He sent His Son.
Our sins are so grievous that they cost the Son of God His life. He had to die for our sins to redeem us, and He had to rise from the dead to justify us. The enormity of the remedy that was required indicates the weight of the sin. Our sins are heinous.
Our mistakes, like our parents before us, and their parents, and so on, will be the catalyst that brings our children to Christ. We are why they will realize their need for Jesus. That’s cold comfort, I know. But it’s true.
We’re all in the same boat. The universal fact of this reality should make us far less hard on ourselves. It should bring us to repentance sooner, rather than leaving us to hang on our own self-justification. Anything we do to advance any good in our kids’ lives is reason for rejoicing. Any resistance of our own selfishness in order to put them first is applause worthy.
But neither does our broken state give us an excuse to throw up our hands and assume there’s no point in exerting ourselves. We must give an account to God for every thought, word, and deed.
But there’s more good news. Not only does God forgive us when we repent of our flaws and errors, but Jesus also places His Holy Spirit within us, giving us guidance and power to change. And even more good news: He promises to work all things – even our messy parenting – together for their good and ours, and He will and does.
This is the glorious part: God will take every broken part, every flawed personality quirk, every mistake we had no idea we were making, everything we did wrong that seems to be unfixable, and He will turn those things on their head and make them beautiful.
The way He does it is will astound us. It will leave us stunned and completely aware that, but for the grace of God, it never would’ve turned out this wonderful. We will see the glory of God, and we will praise Him for the miracles He performed. In eternity, it will be made even better than we’d ever hoped.
There is cause for hope and rejoicing. God sees everything, and He makes it beautiful. As we approach this holiday time of the year with its focus on family, forgive yourself for your blunders of parenting, trust them into God’s hands to work for good in the lives of your offspring, accept God’s grace, and move forward walking in His mercy.