Day 5: Embrace God’s Grace - Parenting with God’s Peace
Day 5: Embrace God’s Grace
“…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6, NIV)
There is a well-known statement in the therapy world: We repeat what we don’t repair. However, let me say this clearly: There is so much grace. This side of heaven, we will repeat. You will hear your mom’s critical words coming out of your mouth at times with your kids. You’ll notice your dad’s flashes of anger inside of you when you feel out of control. Our past hurts mixed with present pressure often dictate our future fear.
I think this formula is the very definition of sabotage for parents and what trips up the most well-intentioned, loving parents more than anything I know. The past and pressure can not only create more fear for you as a parent, but also hold you hostage as a person. Please hear me again: There is grace. And there is also so much hope. We do not have to be defined by our past. The more we understand our past, the more freedom we can find from it. The more we understand the pressure we’re operating under, the less power that pressure has. And the less both end up creating future fears with our kids.
One of my favorite authors and psychologists, Dan Allender, says that our stories reveal both brokenness and beauty. He also says our stories are just as much about light as they are about dark. And that the fundamental human experience is limitation. The most universal human experience is limitation as well. We are broken and beautiful. And the more we try to run from the brokenness, the more pressure we feel and the more our anxiety grows.
I have a small sign hanging in my office that I hope every parent—and every child—who walks through my door sees. I want to remember to see it every single day. It says what my dear friend and our executive director at Daystar Counseling, Melissa, tells the kids at Hopetown, a summer retreat program: “He doesn’t ask us to try harder. He just makes us new.”
We start with the past. We look back, not to dwell on the past, but to better understand where and who we are in the present. Brad Montague, in a delightful book called Becoming Better Grownups, writes, “Now and again, we could all benefit from a visit into our pasts. Light could be shed on where our insecurities came from. Where our anger began. Where our joy was lost. Bringing this understanding of who we are into the present can help shape the way we embrace everything.”
It helps us understand ourselves and the origins of our anxiety. It helps us understand the context created the day these amazing little people came into our lives. It helps us to look at the stress and the pressure we’re living under today. Our past hurt impacts the pressure we feel in the present, which then impacts our future fear with the kids we love. In that future, we can feel defeated or we can know hope. And hope is exactly where we’re heading. He is already using His Spirit and the work you’re doing to do that. You’re doing great. Keep going. “There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish” (Philippians 1:6, The Message).
Reflect: How can understanding God’s grace help you to exchange worry for peace in your parenting?