Friday, October 21, 2016

winning the trust (and hearts!) of our children

"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy."
-1 Peter 2:9-10

Last night we walked home from the park as a family, and one of my kids stayed close by my side while all the others skipped ahead. In great confidence, I learned about all the fears in my child's heart about the future. What if failure was inevitable? What if their dreams didn't come true? What if who they wanted to be someday wasn't who they ended up being? 

These full-blown existential crises are what parenting preteens is all about. They're like a trip to Disneyworld: lots of drama, you feel mostly lost the whole time, and the waiting slowly grinds you down to the nubs of your soul.

"You've got a couple of decades of this ahead of you," I said. "Your whole life is about becoming who you're going to be for a long time. Be patient. It takes time for God to get you there. #enjoythejourney, baby." 

My child then smiled. No, actually I detected something that was almost a chuckle, even laughter. Crisis averted!

I silently thanked God for children who trust us with their inner struggles. And I thought of all the times Morgan and I have fought our frustration and exhaustion with their immaturity to try to teach our kids about living transparently and win their hearts and trust. It's been worth every bit of energy to teach them these three things:
1. Shame can't grow in the light.  
2. You can't change what you keep trying to hide.  
3. Everything really good in life is on the other side of vulnerability.
Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 12 that we should boast in our weaknesses, but even still, we prefer others think we are better than we actually are. (Enter Photoshop, cosmetic surgery, and all modern advertising.) Our kids can't hear often enough that perfection is a impossible goal, and that we would prefer to see imperfect courage in their lives most of all.

Our homes need to be a place they can get it all wrong, again and again, and still belong. When the consequences of their failure are painful for them (and for us), a little empathy will go much farther than the "I told you so." we wish we could paint on their bedroom wall.

Gosh, we're all learning about grace together in our homes, aren't we?

Jesus said she who is forgiven much, loves much. He saves us because He loves us, but we wish so much we didn't need saving. Hey God, If we could find a way save ourselves, would that be okay? It's hard to fail and then ask for forgiveness.

But how can grace be amazing if we don't need it so desperately?

I suppose we need to face our weaknesses occasionally so we can remember that we don't really deserve God's favor much at all. We aren't entitled to salvation. We are indebted to God for every freedom and blessing we cherish. We could never make any of it happen on our own.

God sent Jesus to make Isiah 62 true in our lives and in our kids' lives. He's sending us out into the world to clear the roads and highways so His salvation can flow like a river through our souls, washing away every sin and failure that has snared us.

Our Savior comes, ready to complete what He has promised in our families. He has new, beautiful names for us all. Mine is "Mom", what's yours?

Walk out of the gates. Get going!

    Get the road ready for the people.

Build the highway. Get at it!
    Clear the debris,
    hoist high a flag, a signal to all peoples!
Yes! God has broadcast to all the world:
    “Tell daughter Zion, ‘Look! Your Savior comes,
Ready to do what he said he’d do,
    prepared to complete what he promised.’”
Zion will be called new names: Holy People, God-Redeemed,
    Sought-Out, City-Not-Forsaken.
Isaiah 62:10-12

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