Wow! Is it Thursday again already? It seems like I just wrote this post for last week. This week has gone by quickly. I will be brief tonight because there aren't too many coherent thoughts in my head right now.
This chapter is about how raising children teaches us to deal with guilt.
"Repentance, contrary to popular misconception, is not a heroic first step I make toward Christ, nor is it a feeling-sorry-for my sins. It is the divine gift of being turned toward truth. -William Willomon.
Here are some highlights from this chapter:
(1) We are human. Parenting puts the spotlight on our MANY imperfections. As my children grow older, they will realize that in some areas, I fall short.
(2) Parenting demands skills of me that I do not possess. It requires an understanding and wisdom that I lack. Sometimes, I don't even live up to my own capabilities (I am less than my best, which already isn't good enough).
(3) We are not raising robots; we are raising humans who live with freedom of choice, their own wills and a personal responsibility of their own. This is my FAVORITE part: none of us can be such good parents that God becomes obligated to save our children's souls and none of us can mess up so badly that our children somehow extend beyond the reach of God's mercy. Simply put, perfect parenting does not guarantee that my children will always choose wisely. That is where God comes in.
(4) God will use my own failings and inadequacies as a parent to compel my children to find refuge in him. I should focus my efforts on introducing my children to God not trying to be the "best" parent.
(5) Guilt can play positive roles in our lives:
-Guilt can point us to God: "I can't be God to my kids, but I can model my need for God."
-Guilt can motivate us to do better: use our failings as teachable moments.
-Guilt can remind us of God's providence: God knew our limitations when he made our children and still placed them in our care. Christ promises to make up for what we lack.
-Guilt can teach us to love mercy: without guilt, there could be no mercy.
-Guilt has a positive "hidden agenda": God loves me just as much as he loves my children. God wants the process of parenting to change all of us.
(6) God has a remedy for guilt: Forgiveness!
Practical application: I am going to fail as a parent. Do not let the guilt I feel when I fail discourage, weaken and frustrate me. Instead, use my failures and resulting guilt as motivation and encouragement to stay focused on God.