Today’s post is from my friend Jami Nato who was on The Happy Hour last year. If you haven’t checked out that episode please do, because her words are still with me all these weeks later, and might be the show I had the most feedback from since we started The Happy Hour.
I’m not a parent with all the answers. I used to think I was, when I had ZERO children and would chastise bribing mothers of the world just trying to make it through their hellish grocery shopping at Super Targ. “UH, I’m pretty sure I learned (in my teaching studies–again, Kidless–in college. While I took many, many naps 3 times a day) that giving a kid a sucker when they’re screaming is just reinforcing their awful tantrum which is completely ruining my swimsuit shopping experience!” *Insert dagger eyes to said mother.
Years later, the Lord maketh me eat humble pie. When I got married, we got pregnant 2 weeks after our nuptial. Record screech. Accidents happen and as the textbooks say, “sex works to make babies”. Interesting concept! But there I found myself years later, handing out lollies to my screaming children at that very same store in which I chided other mothers. God has jokes sometimes.
So no. I’m not going to pretend like I know better than other parents trying to do the best they can. But I would like to share with you how my parenting changed drastically after the gospel flipped our world upside down after my husband’s affair. We were good Christians and were a part of all the things and reading all the books and having all the accountabilities. And the gospel was not in our bones. Thus, parenting was kind of a shoot from the hip, implement more rules/more punishment sort of thing. It was exhausting trying to really nip all those naughty behaviors out of them, and even ourselves. Let’s slay that sin! As if that were possible, but I didn’t know that yet. Because I didn’t know the depths of my own heart, which only the Gospel can expose.
When our life fell apart, and then miraculously was made new within a matter of a year, this Gospel became real to us. The thing where Jesus died for my sins wasn’t just a hurdle to jump over to “be a christian”, It was what we leaned on daily and hourly. It seeped into our marriage obviously, but into our finances, our friendships and our parenting.
I stopped the non sense of shaming my children for sins. For making them fearful of me when they messed up. For telling them how disappointed I was in their behavior. How it made mommy “sad”. I stopped being their God.
When my husband was caught in his sin, he didn’t flip a switch the next day and become an repentant and loving husband. Even though he decided he wanted to stay. News flash: He got caught! He actually still loved his sin and he sort of still loved the other woman. And was it me chaining him to his home and community that brought him back physically and mentally? NO. I tried that. I tried to change him, Lord as my witness, I tried to change him so hard. I tried to keep him there by doing things for him, by shaming him, by yelling at him, by chasing him. Ladies and Gentleman, I did it all. And it wasn’t enough. Because Only God is enough to change the hearts of a wayward man.
In God’s timing, he brought my husband back. Apart from me.
And this changed me as I watched it. When I stood at the door and watched my husband return after our separation. It was the Gospel tangibly lived out and it had nothing to do with me.
And this miracle of Christ’s work seeped into my parenting real fast.
When my 9 year old lies and I catch him in it, I say, “Hey. I saw that. I lie too to get my way. But it’s going to hurt you. Go upstairs and take some time to ask that God might change your heart.” Sure, sometimes I yell first. But you get the point. A common phrase in this house is, “Go upstairs and ask God to change your heart.” Not “GO to your room! I can’t believe you did that! (because I did that yesterday?)” What kind of a tool is that? Is that how you change…really change? Self loathing? Fear of Mom? Or is it God working a miracle in your heart? God works the same for both large humans and small humans, as it turns out.
I know that our parenting looks different. I know that it may not give us fast results on behavior modification. But I’m not looking to modify. I’m looking for something more. Miracles. The miracle of the spirit living inside of us doing the work. It is called fruits OF THE SPIRIT, not fruits-of-the-being-scared-of-your-parents-so-you-best-straighten-up! I don’t want my kids working to please me, thus making me their Idol. I want them resting in the work Christ did on the cross and so, I’ll be the arrow. Don’t look at me, I’m a sinner just look like you. Look to our God.
This is the goodness of the Gospel in parenting.