Any parent knows that their children are not perfect. Seriously... we live with them. We clean their rooms and smell their breath. We hear the fights and find the hidden candy wrappers under their pillows. BUT... it’s a very different thing to know our kids are flawed and to have someone else tell you about one of their mistakes. Ouch!
With 9 kids, I have had plenty of opportunities to hear from other adults about one of my children’s imperfections. However, there is a single incident that sticks out to me. It wasn’t a huge problem or grave sin. It was quite insignificant, but the lesson I learned in that moment is what has stayed with me.
One of my daughters was in the 8th grade. Here in Steubenville, we are blessed with an amazing Catholic Jr. High School. Our Principal is quite singular. She leads those students with great dignity, respect, and faith. Jr. High age students are a breed unto their own. It takes special talent to maneuver the trials and dramas that come with that age.
We were half way through the school year and I was visiting the school for some random reason. (I really can’t remember.) The Principal took me aside and said in a very non-judgmental way, “Linda, we have an issue with your daughter. I just want you to be aware that we have caught her holding hands with a boy during school hours. We don’t allow public displays of affection so we have broken it up several times.” My first reaction was horror, quickly followed by embarrassment.
It’s amazing how fast our brains process thoughts. In a split of a second, my mind reacted with, “Oh my... how have I failed as a mother to raise such a horrible daughter?”
And then, “I must have the worse child in school since the Principal had to personally tell me this news.”
And then, “Oh wait... She doesn’t sound angry or judgmental.”
And then, “Oh yea... it’s normal for girls and boys to like each other. We just need to set boundaries.”
And then... the voice of God split through the muddle of thoughts and said, “THIS IS MY GRACE IN YOUR DAUGHTER’S LIFE. HOW CAN YOU HELP HER GROW IN SANCTITY IF YOU ARE UNAWARE OF HER SHORTCOMINGS?”
It’s painful to learn about our children’s flaws and mistakes. We like to keep everyone believing that we have it all together. But sometimes, our pride must take the back seat to our children’s sanctity. In those humiliating moments, it does us well to remember that God desires holiness from our kids. He has placed us as the guard, instructor, and leader of our children’s souls. It’s easy to see that when we discipline for a fault we found in them. But, when that fault is brought to our intention, especially by well meaning adults, we must recognize it as God’s grace shining light on to a dark area in our child’s life. Light is necessary to rid the darkness. Sin doesn’t like to be revealed. Mercy and Grace bring discipline and thus healing.
Since that day, my husband and I have faced several more painful revelations about our children. There have been a couple that have nearly knocked me out with despair and regret. But no matter how tragic the mistake, how deeply flawed the action, or how hopeless it all appears, the truth is this.... Grace shining light on sin is a gift! It verifies that Jesus loves our children so much, that he is willing to painfully perform a little surgery. He has hope for them. He has a plan for their lives. He wants to spend eternity with the souls you birthed and raised. We need to allow him to do what he must.
(Stock photos from FreeDigitalPhotos.net)