I didn’t mean to raise sinners and goofballs…it kinda just happened. Have you ever tried to live your life striving toward a false ideal? Perfectly pressed shirts match wide grins on family faces. Kids who consistently self-motivate to kindness and chores. A prayerful mom with endless energy to churn out meals and apple pies for the needy. More.
By God’s grace our little family loves one another – our home regularly outpours happy memories filled with laughter. But it generates something else – imperfection and sin. A knee-jerk reaction for moms it seems, is to mask their family’s weaknesses. We’re prone to self-doubt about our parenting prowess when our kids throw public tantrums, defy our authority, and act like the sinful misfits that we pray our guts out they will not become. Disappointment spills into exhaustion which collapses into defeat, and our sense of self-worth becomes buried under the never-ending laundry pile. Covering up our weaknesses becomes a form of self-preservation – one less rejection after trying so hard and falling so short… again. Perhaps your mask doesn’t cover your parenting fails, but exists to hide something else.
The knowledge that sin makes life messy for everyone should allow us to pull back the My Family’s Perfect curtain so that we don’t discourage one another with fake pretense, but encourage one another where we struggle instead. Us? Devotions do not always meet teachable hearts, negotiations between sibling drama can seem endless, and the amount of repetition required to train godly behaviour can feel futile. Picture it – the recital audience quietens and all eyes look on my cello-ing princess until my son yells into the deafening silence, “Pull my finger!” I have no energy for pies. Instead, at the end of a busy day I’m flopping on the couch and donning my homemade sash embossed with the words Survived Another Day.
You see, our identity can quickly become dependent on others’ affirmation which more quickly arrives when our lives look golden. Yet the truth is that people and life circumstances will continually disappoint us, making a life focused on human ends certain to end in defeat. Our children are held hostage to the world’s applause of picture-perfection too. This makes living authentically so much more important because we need to show them the futility of pretending.
I’m not advocating for the airing of all dirty laundry in the name of being ‘real.’ In the current cultural climate of being authentic we can swing the pendulum too far and lack good judgment about the appropriateness of what and when we share. Good council often comes through confidential instruction from those gifted in biblical wisdom. We can also demonstrate love by choosing not to humiliate others through exposure, but by gracing them with our discretion. What I am advocating is for honest discussion about our own lives and the lowering of our perfect curtains so that we can point one another to Jesus where we struggle. A mom who brings her constant mess-ups to Jesus teaches her children they qualify for grace.
The Gospel Fuels Our Freedom
Choosing the vulnerability of what’s real will move us from superficial relationships filled with chit-chat to deep relationships rich with meaning and power. In Christ, we can have the courage to be vulnerable and not fear rejection when our ugly stains are exposed. Our identity is now fully in Him who paid for every inadequacy we’ve ever thought, made, or will do. Genuine lives exposed, we’ll not only connect with others more deeply, but enjoy greater connection with Jesus himself. His gospel power lifts the masks from our faces because the shame of our constant inadequacies has been exchanged with His own perfect record. While we can strive for excellence in all that we do for the glory of God, the power of the gospel releases us from the fear of public opinion – we’ve been accepted by the God of the universe whose opinion is the only one that ultimately matters. The gospel relieves us from the pressure of perfect parenting – perfect living – because it is Christ’s work alone who saves and moves, not human ingenuity.
Today, let’s embrace the Christ-story that is ours to enjoy and feel the wind of Jesus’ acceptance blow its cool breeze across the hottest, ugliest depths of what has gone sideways with sin. Let’s humbly embrace repentance where we need to and celebrate the holiness that was already been won on our behalf. Let’s move out into the world who longs to feel the relief of freedom impact their imperfections too, and tell them that they can be fully known yet fully loved anyway. Today let’s determine to live wide open so that others can see that Jesus came for sinners not for mask-wearers who pretend that their lives are perfectly together.
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36