A few nights ago, I sat at the dining table, doing the ugly cry in front of my husband. I was sobbing to him out of frustration. I was so frustrated from my kids not listening to me. Through my huffing and puffing, I got this much out: “I am so tired of getting on to them and disciplining them constantly, and then them still not listening, especially when we are out in public. Everyone stares at me with an ugly look, and sometimes they give me their opinion of what I need to do with my kids, whether I even ask for it or not! I can’t make anyone happy. I am trying my very best to raise these kids the right way, and nothing that I am doing is working.”
After calmly handing me a tissue, and waiting for my breathing to come back to normal, Miguel said, “You know what you need to do, right?”
“Not take the kids out in public for the next five years?” I answered, only half-jokingly.
“No,” he answered. “You need to get them to respect you.”
I just started at him. Wasn’t I already doing that? It was obvious that the kids did not respect me, but really? In the midst of my meltdown, is that really the most helpful thing that he had to say? Here I am, trying everything and accomplishing nothing, and I KNOW that I need to get them to respect me! I just wish that it were as easy as he made it sound.
“Jordan,” he continued. “Have you asked God what you need to do instead of just trying different things?”
Maybe that was what had gotten me into this state of belligerent frustration. I had been parenting in my own strength, instead of God’s. And it had only left me weary and defeated.
And so, I sat down with my prayer journal, and I just started pouring my heart out to the Lord. “God, show me your way. Show me what I am doing wrong. Show me how you want me to parent my kids.”
Such a simple, short prayer then led to swift emotion. God began bringing flashbacks of the last week to my mind—of me yelling, of me demanding them to obey me with the mannerisms of a dictator, of the kids continually running around when I had told them to sit down, of them grabbing things that I had repeatedly told them to leave alone, of me constantly disciplining them to the point that I couldn’t get anything else done… even to me wondering if God was giving me what I deserved—giving me kids that didn’t listen to me because of all the times that I gave my parents trouble, and didn’t listen to them.
I shuddered as that dreaded mommy guilt began to flood my heart. But then God said, “Jordan, I am a God of grace. I do not give you back what you deserve. I see your struggles. I am patient with your shortcomings, and I am proud of your efforts. I am here to lavish my love on you.”
What a beautiful word from the Lord! So perfect! And then I felt God’s voice in my heart again, “Jordan, I have not called you to please everyone in your parenting. I have not called you to please anyone except me. I have called you to parent your children the way that I parent you.”
I sat there, stunned. How could I have missed that?!? Thank you, Lord! The missing element of my parenting was right there. Nothing had been working because I had left out the most important part, and that was GRACE.
Oh, God’s grace. Oh how sacred and soothing. Sadly, my home had been a home of strife, not a home of grace. Because I was parenting from a place of strife, nothing was working. Because I had not applied God’s grace to myself, I could not give grace to my children. That is why this week had felt so awful.
I am committing to learn what God’s grace looks like in my parenting. I am committed to applying God’s grace to the broken places in my heart. I don’t want to fake it anymore. I can only give my children what I myself have. They depend on me for everything—I have to make sure that I am approaching them from the fullness of God’s grace, instead of the emptiness of my own efforts. And as I daily walk in God’s grace as the manager of my home, I can’t wait to see the grace of God fill my home like a sweet aroma—and for the stench of anger and disrespect to leave.