Parenting Wide Open

“He has been showing me that whenever I try to mother apart from Him, it not only results in sheer hypocrisy, it also hinders my kids from a clear view of Christ.”

I was out with a group of new acquaintances recently, when one of the women said to me, “You must be a great mom! You’re so easygoing and calm.” I was caught off-guard, so I just laughed and shook my head. Not only did I know she was wrong, but I knew my own kids would disagree with her, too. The disparity started to eat at me after a while.

Now I know how my children perceive me and how other adults perceive me shouldn’t necessarily be equal — after all, God calls me to be a parent to my kids, not a peer — but I haven’t been able to shake the thought that a gulf has grown between who I am inside my home and who I am outside of it. It seems to have happened so slowly and sneakily, I almost didn’t notice. (That often seems to be the way with pride in our outward appearance, doesn’t it?)

Perhaps part of it also has to do with this weird, in-between stage of stay-at-home motherhood I’m in. As my kids are growing older, my desire to step back into the working world is growing...but so is the awareness that their time under our roof is quickly dwindling.

Whatever the reasons, I don’t want to spend another minute of my short time with my kids being a big ol’ faker. Far too often and too readily, I tell them to do something, while I go and do the exact opposite. I fear I smile at others more than I smile at them! And while I have nobly endeavored to set boundaries for them, I’ve often noticed the primary boundary I give them is me.

Finally, while I may still need to raise my voice from time to time, the truth is, I yell too much. I don’t yell at my husband when we disagree. I don’t yell at my friends or people I’ve worked with or anyone else, really. When I asked my kids what percentage of time I yelled at them versus talked at a regular volume, they said fifty percent!

Yes, I have become a professional at straining out gnats while swallowing camels. Many of the woes that Jesus pronounces upon the Jewish leaders in Matthew 23 feel like they were written just for me.

The truth is, I’m not a great mom, or a calm or easygoing one. But I am a grateful mom whose eyes have been opened by God.

He has been showing me that whenever I try to mother apart from Him, it not only results in sheer hypocrisy, it also hinders my kids from a clear view of Christ. He has shown me that I need to stop functioning like a brick wall, and more like a conduit.

A conduit is just a channel through which something is transmitted; it connects the giver and the receiver. Jesus is the original, wholly unique conduit between us and God. As I am being shaped further in His image, I am given the privilege of serving as a conduit between Jesus and the world — and that includes my children.

“All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”
-2 Corinthians 5:18-20

The best part about being an ambassador like this — a conduit for Christ — is that the only requirement is being willingly wide open.

So I not only get to simply receive His forgiveness, but I can let that same forgiveness flow onto my children. Does He love me, no matter who I think I am, or what I’ve done? Then I will love them unconditionally, as well. Does He patiently listen to me, calmly correct me? Then I can do the same for my kids. I do not need to yell.

When I experience His joy, His help, His comfort, His peace…these are not gifts meant just for me, but for the others near me, too.

I repent of hoarding these gifts, of being a backed-up conduit. The clogs come when I decide I deserve a response or reciprocation from those on the receiving end. But the gifts aren’t even from me to begin with!

Lord, thank you for this realization. Thank you for your Word, and for the reminder that I only get to be a mother (a friend, a wife, a woman) because of you. My children are yours, chosen by you, and any other people I come into contact with were chosen by you as well. Let me hold them all with open hands and an authentic heart. Let me serve them without limit, because that’s how you served. Amen.