I was about 22 years old, married without kids, teaching other people’s children in the classroom when I started praying this prayer:
Lord, when I have children, please help me know them, not just the great things about them, but their sin and weaknesses, too. I want to know what’s wrong so I can wade waist-deep into the mess of sin if needed to help them choose repentance and find grace.
As a teacher, you come face to face all of the time with the parenting phenomenon My-Child-Is-Perfectitis.
It’s thinking that your child could never do anything wrong, and evil influences from other less-perfect children or teacher error is to blame for any supposed wrongdoing.
Then I brought my own first tiny bundle of perfect babyhood home from the hospital when I was 24.
Even her doctor declared she was the “most perfect little baby” when I brought her in for the first appointment.
But I knew the truth: She was beautiful and a treasure and a gift, but she wasn’t perfect.
Maybe it’d be easier as a mom to shield my eyes from any of my kids’ mess-ups or mistakes.
It’d feel so much more comfortable focusing on what my kids do right and overlooking anything they do wrong.
(Okay, I’ll admit it, sometimes I just want to pretend I don’t see my kid take the extra cookie so I don’t have to actually roll my sleeves up and deal with it.)
But easy isn’t really what I’m looking for as a mom. I don’t want to do what’s comfortable; I want to do what’s best for my kids with the eternal in mind.
I’m thinking about this today in light of new scandals and news bulletins about prominent Christians who have fallen, sometimes repeatedly, into sexual sin.
I’m not one to engage in debates or public bashing here on the blog, but I’m processing Ashley Madison and the Duggars and other Christian leaders stepping down or being ousted from ministry because of adultery, pornography and the like.
What’s a mom to do in a world like this?
I know what’s true:
Even the best Christian parents have adult children who reject the faith and make bad decisions.
Of course, that doesn’t mean tossing my hands up in futility and just letting my kids do whatever they want. I’m willing to pour myself out in this parenting effort.
But it does mean letting go of the pressure of perfection and realizing that far more depends on prayer than depends on my performance.
And there’s nothing I can pray more powerfully than for God’s mercy. God, in all my imperfections and in all the ways I fail, please draw me children to You anyway. Mercy, Lord, I need so much mercy.
There’s something else that catches my attention as a mom, though.
Sin isn’t always “out there.”
I read an article on Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar’s response to the newest reports about their son and it breaks my heart:
‘This wasn’t something they ever imagined was possible,’ the source told People. ‘They so strictly limit their exposure to these sorts of outside influences – from websites to even the sort of television they watch, if they turn on the TV at all – that they were absolutely baffled by how this could have been possible.’
They thought that by keeping the world out, they could keep their kids pure, but their best efforts at that weren’t enough.
I’m a pretty protective mom about what we watch, listen to and read as a family, and that’s right and good.
Yet, if I teach my kids that holiness is the same as avoiding the world, we’re in trouble.
The far harder work is teaching our kids how to overcome temptation from within and temptation from without and choose to obey God no matter what.
I want this to go farther than just behavior management. I know we could cancel the internet service, destroy the technology, and isolate ourselves in our home. But that’s not what I’m looking for. I want to raise kids who seek God with every aspect of their lives. I want to raise kids who understand that porn and bullying and affairs break God’s heart and fall far short of the love of Jesus.
You cannot protect your kids from sin.
Because sin is in them.
It’s not the world that is sinful.
And that means us.
I’d rather make the effort now to know the true state of my kids’ hearts—the good, the bad, and the ugly—and battle right there with the truths about repentance, and holiness, and grace.
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us (1 John 1:8-10 ESV).
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now! To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2015 Heather King