January 22, 2014

Learning to Live a Grace-Filled Life

From a very young age, my eldest has always had a love for creating and building things.  I hope he never loses that.  And more than that, I pray I won't be the one responsible for dashing his creativity or dreams.

One of the things I've recognized about my life over the years is that I don't offer myself much grace.  But the more damaging reality is that I don't readily extend it to my children, either.

I realize one of my many jobs as a mom is to encourage my children in developing their gifts and their character.  To help build them up as 1 Thessalonians 5:11 calls us to do:  "Therefore encourage one another and build each other up."  I admit it's often times been easier to criticize and find fault than it is for me to praise my children.  It's the ingrained perfectionist in me - the need to do all things well and now I find myself expecting the same of my children.

But that's not what I want for them. I don't want them to expect perfection nor give up on their dreams when things don't go the way they expect.  I want them to live a grace-filled life; one without the pressure to perform or need to do everything just right.  One built in confidence of who God created them to be with the assurance that they are always loved and accepted no matter what - even if they should royally fail or fall flat on their faces.

But in order to teach that to my children, I have to exemplify that for them.  I have to expect and allow for mistakes and learn to accept them graciously.  I have to offer myself and the children the grace God gives us every day, being reassured no matter how messed up things get, He still loves us beyond measure.

In my head, it's so easy to say "give grace".  But in practice, I find myself struggling in this area every day.  If my kids don't behave the way I expect them to, if they make a mistake in their homework or projects, I find my patience wearing thin.  I expect things to be done a certain way.  And when it doesn't happen, my natural inclination is to point out the flaws, wag my finger in disapproval, and raise my voice in frustration.

But the truth that humbles me and makes me apologize to my children is that God doesn't expect perfection, He doesn't shake His head in disapproval, or make me feel like a great disappointment.  He sees Jesus in me.   He sees the perfect Lamb.  He sees righteousness and goodness that isn't mine but was made mine when Jesus died on the cross for me.  When He looks at me, He sees His child, His creation, His beloved who He would go to the ends of the world for.

And that is what I want my children to know.

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."
~ 2 Corinthians 12:9

Lord, help me to know this truth in my head and in my heart.  Help me to see Jesus in me and my children every day and to love the way You do.


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