This morning I read a thought-provoking article by actress and author, Candace Cameron Bure. In it she shared her decision to choose to fight for her faith when it comes to raising her children. She explained how she believes she’s fallen short as a Christian mother.
With her children now in their teens and showing signs of disrespect and poor behavior, she is trying to understand why? After all, they were never taught to act this way at home or in their Christian school.
Maybe she has fallen short. I don’t know her or her family. But, I believe her discouragement over what she believes are her mom-shortcomings are a common rally cry most moms shout once our kids are old enough to watch a PG-13 movie or go to a school dance.
It’s a response to our confusion. “Where did he learn that?” “She never talked that way before.” Within nanoseconds our mind works overtime as judge and jury as thoughts pierce a mom-heart in rapid fire.
She’s disrespectful because you worked full time when she was in preschool. Yep, you should have been home more. You should have read the Bible to him more. You never finished that family devotional you started. It’s because you didn’t read him Fox’s Book of Martyrs. You should have forced her to go on that mission trip to Taiwan.
STOP Condemning Yourself
Listen up, this guilt-ridden type of mom-thinking is not God’s truth. Especially if you use your inner voice to punish yourself for time misspent. Those thoughts need to be reined in and taken captive. (2Corinthians 10:5) Remember, there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. Paul reminds us of this in Romans. (Romans 8:1)
I respect a mother’s passion to parent with faithful intention, especially when it comes to instilling God honoring behavior. I understand how difficult it is when our babies are growing up and nearing the age where they’ll move out and leave the soft nest we’ve made for them.
Most of all, I understand the I-can’t-breathe feeling of anxiety when that moment comes and it’s only a matter of days before your baby is nearing adulthood.
So, what’s the truth?
It’s not about you. Maybe you need to be reminded of those first four words from Pastor Rick Warren’s bestseller, The Purpose Driven Life. It’s not about you. We are mistaken when we believe there’s something more we can do. Read them more books about saints. Do one more Bible study together. Make them memorize more scripture. Talk about Jesus more. Show them we love Jesus more. Drag them to soup kitchens, nursing homes, animal shelters to serve the helpless and the hurting.
Are there benefits to these outward expressions of an inward faith? Absolutely! But they musn’t be done with an expectation to change our growing children. We can all make a list of should of-could of-would of’s. Unfortunately, a mother who loves her child and then punishes herself when that child makes poor choices does not understand a sovereign God or His miraculous gift of free will.
God’s greatest gift to mankind is free will. It’s a gift we were born with—your child, too. We have the choice to love Him or not. We have the choice to walk the narrow path He has laid out or not. We have the choice to accept Jesus as Savior or not.How else will the Lord know we LOVE Him if we don’t LOVE Him on our own?
Don’t Steal Their Testimony
How’s this for honesty, I want my child to be on fire for Jesus, but, I don’t want him to walk through fire to get there. Ultimately, what I’m saying is that I actively desire to steal their testimony. I want my child to listen and learn from my past sins and mistakes and want to follow Christ without any cost at all.
I don’t know about you, but that’s not how I came to give my life to Jesus. It’s not how I came to love Him with a passion I can’t explain. It’s not how this walk of faith works. I LOVE Jesus very much because I’ve been forgiven much. (Luke 7:47)
- Let your child make mistakes.If I stop and think about all the people I know who are incredibly on fire for the Lord, well, they all have one very obvious thing in common. Their road to the cross was a difficult one filled with quite a few mistakes. Whatever you do – don’t steal their testimony.
- Let them feel the consequences.So, the next time your teenager tests the limits and talks back, the next time they do something that makes you whisper to your husband, “Dear God, please tell me that’s not one of my idiots.” Respond accordingly, then remember the Lord loves them more. He desires their heart more. He knows them even better than you which means He can turn any mistake, misstep or misfortune into something for His good and His glory.
Franklin Graham had a drug problem and there was a time he wanted nothing to do with Christianity. What does that say about Ruth Bell Graham’s mothering? Nothing. She raised her family to know and love God. And, when her son needed a savior he knew exactly where to go. Remember, it’s not about you. Every time you think bad choices and poor behavior is a reflection on you—turn those thoughts into prayers for your son or daughter to use their free will wisely. Only God knows what it will take for them to bend a knee before Him—you don’t.
Let yourself off the hook today. Love the last few years or months your almost-grown child is still at home with you, then let them leave with a hug and a prayer. God promises in His word to give us the desires of our heart. (Psalm 37:4) For me, my biggest desire it’s to know my children are all walking in truth.(3John 1:4) It’s the greatest desire of my heart and I expect God to keep His promise.