I did it again last night. I went to bed feeling incredibly guilty about how I had handled a situation with one of my children. I totally blew it. Again. The guilt was palpable, my chest actually felt heavy.
Oh, I had apologized (and so had my child... for we both had a part in it). All was forgiven. The truth is, I'm not perfect. I blow it, usually more than once a day! Not only do I need to ask my child's forgiveness, but God's as well. He freely gives it, as well as the grace to do better next time. And there seems to always be a next time!
In his book Sacred Parenting, Gary Thomas says:
"What is better for the kingdom of God: That my son and daughters would say, "I can never serve God like Dad did" or "If God can use my dad, he can use me"? There is no question- the latter statement is the reality that most serves God's purposes long term. It is my job as my children's parent to model my own need for God's mercy and to demonstrate how God can use even sinful people to accomplish his aims."
"In this sense, we shouldn't look at guilt as a parking lot but as a car wash. When guilt feelings keep us self-absorbed, destroy our motivation, and make us discouraged, guilt has become a parking lot- not a good thing. But when guilt reminds us that we are insufficient, and when this insufficiency points us to God- his forgiveness, his empowering Spirit, and his provision of grace- then guilt becomes a spiritual car wash. You don't camp out in a car wash; you just go there to get clean! You drive through the car wash and come out on the other side with a completely new outlook. That's one of the healthy roles that guilt can play for parents: pointing us and our children to God."
Lord, thank you for the gift of this child. Most of all, thank you for the incredible gift of Your Child, who came to earth to pay for my sins and my child's sins. Thank you for the gift of guilt, which points me to You. Please help me not to self-centeredly stay in the guilt, but to come to You who will wash me "whiter than snow." Thank You for teaching me about Your grace, mercy, and sufficiency as I parent my children. Help me and my children to experience those in abundance, daily. Amen.
Originally posted February 21, 2008. But I needed these words again. I was parking in a car wash.