Parenting

In the Grip of Grace

How much thought do you give to grace?

Dallas Willard used to say we Christians burn it up like rocket fuel.  We may think of grace when we think of salvation – saving grace.  Certainly it is by grace we have been saved, through faith.  This gift of God – this lavish, undeserved blessing– this God come down, stooping low to save us from ourselves only to bring us near to Him.  Saving grace is truly incomprehensible goodness. 

Beyond salvation, grace is a daily necessity in our lives.  Grace offers us more than what is deserved.  It isn’t just mercy (not to belittle mercy) as mercy says, “I won’t give you what you deserve.”  Grace says, “I’ll give you goodness you don’t deserve – and that in abundance!”  Grace showers lavish goodness on the undeserving and continuously sustains each of us as we walk with Jesus.  We are given faith – that is grace, to be given faith enough to cling onto Jesus when our flesh would run away.  We are given everything we need for life and godliness – grace to survive and thrive.  As Charles Haddon Spurgeon said, all is grace.

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What about parenting in grace?  

You may be thinking of your children at this moment, but I want to step back and talk to you as a mom.  Every single day as parents, we are going to do or say something we wish we hadn’t.  We also will not do or not say something that we wish we had.  {If you don’t believe me, read Romans 7}.  For example, there was the day I called my oldest son a poo-head.  I was so beyond myself that I blurted out an insult that you would regrettably hear children exchange on the playground.  I said it.  I couldn’t take it back.  We both just stared at one another in shock.  Then he started.  He began giggling and giggling and I joined in and grace pervaded our souls.  To this day he’ll say with a glint in his eye, “Remember Mom, you called me a poo-head.”  It’s his way of reminding me of my clay feet and ribbing me a bit for it.  It’s also his way of saying he doesn’t hold it against me.
When he says it, I remember: I mess up.  

I also remember I was forgiven – by God and by my son.   

Grace. 

Despite forgiveness from my son and from God, at the time, I wrestled a bit.  My son let go of my faux pas with ease, but I couldn’t forgive myself.  I wanted to be this epic, amazing {read “perfect”} mom.  I mean, that’s how I was going to ensure that my kids turned out to be epic and amazing {again, read “perfect”}, right?  Instead of becoming perfect (as if that were an option), I’ve learned this other road – the road paved by grace that leads to grace.

John said it in his gospel, “for of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.”  Grace upon grace. 

It seems way too lavish.  Charles Swindoll (in his book Grace Awakening) said if grace doesn’t seem risky enough to tempt some to take advantage of it, we aren’t quite preaching the gospel of grace. 

Grace is just that radical.   

You may have a list of things you wish you hadn’t said or done as a parent – those regrets you allow to nag at you, making you sure you have ruined your kids for life. Perhaps you lament missed opportunities.  Grace is the gift extended to you, at a great price, but without cost to you.  Grace reminds us we aren’t at the center.  We know we depend upon God and His grace.  Nothing on earth hinges on us.  Jesus died to extend you grace and it is free – It will never be earned by you.  You can’t “pay Him back.”  Knowing the cost of grace helps us never cheapen it by take advantage of the gift of the Cross.   

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On the other hand, grace is freely given in love – for you specifically in these moments when you know you’ve blown it.  Because where sin abounds grace abounds ALL THE MORE.  That’s the amazing miracle of grace.  Much like how God’s strength is made perfect in your weakness, His grace abounds to you when you sin.  You just can’t outgive God.  He went to great lengths to give you freedom from guilt and shame. 

Allow yourself to experience the grace He freely bestows on you. 

Then, in turn, look at those children of yours.  They sure need grace.  {Oooh baby, yes they do.}  Like you, they sin.  They can’t escape their own failings on their own any more than you can.  You have the privilege of being the conduit of grace in their lives.  I’m not saying we lay down and say, “Oh, It’s okay!” whenever they mess up or misbehave.  That’s not grace, that’s license.  Behaviors do have consequences.  Grace doesn’t remove natural outcomes of poor choices.  Grace removes the stain of shame and makes room for forward progress despite our failures.  Grace showers love where flesh would inflict insult, punishment and doom.

The truth is we all sin and fall short of God’s standards, yet He is so lavish in love that He came to pay the price for you and for them.  He offers grace in our deepest times of need – when we hit the end of ourselves.  We need to learn to offer the same grace to our children.  Point them to Jesus as you give them instruction and help them learn how to respond to the lavish grace poured out to them by Jesus – through you.  Show them the way to turn towards Him in their sin rather than running from Him.  Model repentance and lead them back to God when they have walked away.  Most of all love them well, despite their behavior.

What does grace look like?  It looks like a cross.  It means suffering so that someone else might benefit.  Grace will cost you.  You will have to let go of getting even or paying back for wrongs done.  What does grace lived out look like in your home?  It is love in action – putting others ahead of self and extending forgiveness and kindness in the face of wrongdoing.  Grace means holding to consequences, but only when they are tools for instruction towards the future, not a way to make your children pay for their past.  

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We can simultaneously uphold boundaries, morals and standards while being compassionate, loving and kind.  That is grace.

Receive grace.  Extend grace. 


This post (though I modified it a bit here) was first published on my old blog site (Hearts Homeward) at Blogspot on October 10th, 2014.  It’s amazing to me how much I need to hear these very reminders as I parent today.  My children mess up.  I mess up.  I want to approach them with a balance of kindness and firmness and always walk in grace.  How about you?  I’d love to hear from you in the comments or on the Hearts Homeward Facebook page.  Oh, and p.s. I’m still growing in grace.  Aren’t we all?

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