You can’t do anything right, can you? Every decision you make is wrong, every thing you say is wrong, every action you take is wrong. Nothing you do is right. Right? It can seem that way if you’re raising a teenager. The teenager will certainly make you feel that way. But, in your own mind, you know: I’m not a perfect parent.
The truth is, yeah, you’ve messed up plenty of things while parenting your teen. You’ve made mistakes. There are several decisions you’d like to do over. You’re too strict on some things and not strict enough on others. Raising teenagers is difficult at best, sometimes downright impossible. Nobody gets out of parenting teenagers without making lots of mistakes, some of them colossal.
But these mistakes are not what define you as a mother. Your mistakes do not characterize you as a father. Or as a child of our God. It’s God’s grace that defines you. It’s his grace that covers you. It’s his grace that enables you to keep parenting in the trust and faith that God is at work in you and in your children.
I like the Faith Ring of Honor in Hebrews 11. Everybody who’s anybody in the Bible is mentioned in Hebrews 11. And as I scan the names in the list, I don’t see any perfect people. Sarah had a laughing problem and a faith problem. Abraham had the same issues. And I seem to remember him lying about his wife a couple of times. Yet Abraham is not defined in Scripture by his mistakes. Sarah is not defined in the Bible by her poor choices. All the people in Hebrews 11 are defined by God’s grace and commended for their faith.
Just look at the names in Hebrews 11:32: Gideon? A spineless, wishy-washy doubter. Barak? A gutless coward. Samson? Arrogant and selfish. Jepthah? Thoughtless and stupid. David? An adulterer and murderer. Samuel? Maybe one of the worst parents in all of Scripture. But here they are in this list of heroes. With all their sins and all their flaws. These are the people who “through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword, whose weakness was turned to strength.”
Without the good news of the Gospel, being a parent is a weight that’s too tough to carry. Because you are going to make mistakes. You’re going to mess some stuff up. Your hope is that Christ Jesus died for those sins. He atones for those shortcomings. You know that. And by his grace, your kids will know it, too.
Being a parent should reveal to you just how badly you need Jesus. You need to acknowledge the depth of your brokenness and recognize how badly you need Christ. And you need to rest — rest! — in God’s grace and provision for you as a parent. What you do every day is good and noble and ought to be celebrated. But it needs to be viewed in the light of the cross or it’s too much to bear. More than anything, parents and their kids need the grace of the cross.
As a parent, your struggles are real. And they’re big. So are your mistakes. And your sins. But we serve a God whose grace abounds and whose love is lavished on us so those sins and struggles do not define us or condemn us or determine what God is doing in us and in our families.