Raising kids in this world is the most difficult challenge I have faced. A world where everything is thrown in their faces, people text, type, say whatever they want without thinking about the receiving end. We try to teach empathy, love, strength, mercy and grace to our children yet they deal with the opposite every day with their friends, peers, other parents and sadly their own parents at times. My mom always used to say and still does "But by the grace of God go I" which is so true. I wonder if my lack of grace and mercy for my children at times comes from fear. Actually, I know it stems from fear and the what ifs of life. What if they decide to do this and that, what if they do the wrong thing that causes harm to themselves, what if I didn't do all I could to protect them. Fear of what others might think as they interact with my children. Fear of failure and having to pick up the pieces of a mess, and the list goes on.
But God is not the one who puts fear in me, the enemy comes to steal, rob and destroy the very things that God created for good. I had to come to the point in my parenting and interacting with other kids that even though their choices and decisions aren't what I might have done or approve of, grace will speak louder. I'm not talking about grace that dismisses correction, but Grace that doesn't condemn and dishonor the love of Christ.
Speaking to the church body, do we honestly give grace to our kids or do we just shoo them away and put them on a list of "troubled".."watch out for them".. "why would the parents allow this".. we've heard it all haven't we? The kind of grace that we would want and have been been given ourselves. The kind that says, I know that you were going through a time or maybe currently that you aren't making the best choices but I trust that God is working in you. I come along side you and am an example of God's grace and work in all our lives. How much rejection these kids face daily from other places, and how much their church family should be far greater of a safe and an accepting place of where they are in their spiritual journey. I have been guilty of this myself of being judgemental and non accepting. I am reminded that church is not a place where there are perfect people (thankfully) but people growing daily and being crafted and shaped by the Lord into what HE wants them to be and it is a process.
I also find it interesting that the double standard doesn't seem to get charged with a foul. "Do what I say not what I do" goes noticed by our kids. This generation challenges everything and wants to know the validity of truth. They are not going to hear us if we are not living it out and then we wonder why our kids of today are straying from their faith and straying from the church body.
My testimony is thankfully pretty clean with a few minor bumps a long the way. I remember a time though between my eigth grade and freshman year that I had a rebellious spirit towards the Lord. I just wanted to do things my way and be "cooler " which meant conforming to the things of the world. I listened to horrible music with horrible lyrics, wrote them down as if they were golden, spent way too much time focusing on me and my relationships with boys and friends and became colder to the Lord. It wasn't until a Christian based summer basketball camp and a conversation with the coach where I realized how much my life was going in the wrong direction. He gave me a little devotional book and encouraged me to live my life in a way that was pleasing to God. My parents did everything right, we were a church going family, they loved on our family and loved the Lord, but the enemy still crept in while I was on my own. I wonder how long I would have stayed in my rebellion if someone else wouldn't have invested time into my heart and encouraged me along the way. If he would have been judgemental and condemning of my current heart state, how differently the outcome might have been. A stepping stone in my journey that along the way was reinforced by Godly adults in my life that loved me through my faults, and cared enough to extend grace and love.
I pray that my kids and their friends know they are loved and accepted no matter what. I pray that my life is an example of God's truth and love so that the words that come out of my mouth fall on open ears. I pray that if my children walk down a path at some point where the world has taken hold of them and making unwise choices that there would be an army of loving parents that would come along side and show them love and acceptance and the true love of Christ. I pray that my heart would be open always to the shaping of my heart by God's hand. Help me not to live in fear of my children's own testimony and that whatever comes their way in time you will turn it to good for Your glory.
I hope this post was encouraging and convicting at the same time. I hope that we can all work together as parents to love our kids and be Godly examples for them so that together we can raise up kids that love the Lord with all their heart, soul and mind.
When I am afraid I will trust in You
In God (I will praise His word)
In God I have put my trust:
I will not fear
What can flesh do to me?