He looks up at me with eager eyes, longing to hear my answer:
“Was I good today, Mommy?”
His simple question breaks my heart.
The truth is: “No child, you weren’t ‘good’ today. Remember when you hit your brother when he had done no wrong? Didn’t you say ‘no’ when I asked you to wash your hands? Weren’t you the one to steal my Diet Dr.Pepper & drink it secretly in the dining room?”
But I don’t list off his offenses. Instead I respond with, “What do you think?”
Cautiously he admits “I was medium good.”
After he is tucked in bed & dishes are washed, I sit on the couch and replay our conversation. I’m convicted by my unintended messages.
In my longing for some semblance of peace & order with our “new family”, I have given the impression that everyone needs to be “good”. That love is given only to the “good”. That perfection is attainable.
I’m giving this message because it’s the message I believe for myself.
At the end of each day as I crumble from the list of failures, I cry out to God, “Was I good today?” How can I be deserving of Your love with the mess I made today?
Through my study of Psalm 103 He answers:
“The LORD is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.” (Ps 103:8)
I may not have been “good” today, yesterday, or tomorrow.
YET, the Creator is abounding in love for me…a sinner, a failure. He shows me compassion & doesn’t react to my mistakes in anger. He goes beyond that…
“He does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”
My sins deserve severe consequences…death, in fact. He doesn’t treat my sin with death. He removes my sin from me as far as is possible.
When He looks on me, He not only sees “good”, He sees Christ’s perfection.
When I cry out, “Was I good today?”, He loving answers, “You were perfect!”
I want my unintentional message to my sons to be: “You are loved child no matter what choices you make.” To say it in my actions, not just my words.
My prayer is the same as Andrew Murray’s:
“O Father, open the eyes of all Thy people that with each little babe Thou givest them, their faith may see a goodly child…so the eye of faith sees in each little one a divine goodliness.” (How to Raise Your Children for Christ)
(that’s not a typo…goodliness not godliness)
There will be bad behavior, but with prayer and the strength of the Holy Spirit, I want to see my boys the way God sees them. Divinely good. Made perfect through Christ’s sacrifice.
Yes there will be training in truth & discipline. But I desire to balance truth with grace. To exchange my bad habit of responding in anger & frustration with patience & calm reproach.
I want them to know they are loved, so they don’t have to ask “Was I good today?” Because it won’t matter.
Oh heather, this brought the tears. Your sentiments about wanting to see your children as God sees them, and for them to know that, is the deepest desire of my heart, and yet soo hard to attain. I’m reminded of another section of Psalm 103: “As a father shows compassion on his children, so the Lord shows compassion on those who fear Him, FOR HE KNOWS OUR FRAME, HE REMEMBERS THAT WE ARE DUST.” (i couldn’t do italics on the comment form, sorry). I’m so thankful that God knows our frame. That He remembers that we are dust. And that he’s a God who is trustworthy to knit up the unraveled work of our motherhood each and every day. Praise Him! It’s the only thing that gets me through! Your words are an encouragment, not only because they remind me of God’ promises and give me renewed hope, but because it helps to know that I’m not the only mama struggling through the days. Thanks, friend.
When I taught elementary school, I had to grade students writing assignments. We were told to give them “three glows and a grow”. This means we would point out three things they did well and one area for improvement. The good thing about writing assignments and kids’ behavior is they typically get a chance to improve. Keep him focused on the positives and as you say remind them that they are loved regardless of performance. It’s like Neil says on Sunday mornings, “No matter how good you were on Saturday night, you couldn’t do anything to make God love you more. No matter how bad you were on Saturday night, you couldn’t do anything to make God love you less.” (loose paraphrase)
Fabulous, fabulous post!! Oh how I needed to read this.
What an excellent reminder of HIS goodness in spite of our failings, our strivings, our attempts to prove something! Wow! Thank you for sharing this in such a powerful way!
Really lovely and helpful post, Heather. It’s nice to meet you.
Beautiful, especially when you wrote, “I want my unintentional message to my sons to be: “You are loved child no matter what choices you make.” To say it in my actions, not just my words.” It’s just the way we want our message to be to every one, don’t we?
It’s so hard to know how to do this practically! I know in my head this is how I should parent, but it’s just hard.
I 100% agree Rebekkah. Back when I wrote this it was less of a “how to” post but more of an encouragement to me to know it’s okay if I make mistakes and it’s okay if they make mistakes. The attitude I tend to hold is they must be good to earn my approval…the performance-based approach. It’s the high standard I hold for myself and for others. God loving us despite our performance is a miracle. Only by His Holy Spirit can we come close to understanding His grace and showing it to others.
I’m a writer, and I help writer’s all day. Your post made me stop and think. I’ve put it on my facebook and wish you the best. If you ever feel GOD tugging on you to take your writing further please look me up, OneWayWriter.com (I help everyday people who feel called to write)
ugh shot to the heart! my almost 6 year old son asks me this nearly everyday! And my response is the same. Your words are such a blessing thank you for your honesty in being a mom. Such a great scripture reference and highlight to refocus and be reminded that even though we are moms and wives etc we are still children of The God most High! I have four kiddos under 6 so i definitely feel like i can relate to you! Your an encouragement and I thank God that he led me to this because I was really starting to get to a hopeless point of just throwing in the towel.