Just finished a wonderful book on the plane back from San Francisco last night called “Give Them Grace” by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick & Jessica Thompson. It’s the best “Christian” parenting book I’ve ever read (not that I’ve read all that many – but this one still takes the cake!) It was recommended to me by a friend and I can’t thank her enough.
Although I just finished the book last night, I’ve been reading it for a little over a week and have started to implement some of the ideas from the book as I read them. The main point of the book is that, if we rely on God’s grace for our own wretched lives, then it’s not fair (or right) for us to turn to our kids and preach “the Law” to them and expect them to be obedient to the Law. We can’t even keep the Law ourselves.
So, the suggestions of the book urge parents to always point the children back to their inability to keep the Law and our need for a Savior, and to have our children learn to petition God for help with obedience, etc. Even before getting this book, I’ve been “somewhat” using this method with Shaan (i.e. when I mess up, I always point it out to him and we take the time to pray about it, etc.). However, prior to this book I had not been diligent at reminding Shaan that when HE misbehaves, it stems from his need for a Rescuer, and that the only way to truly be good is to seek the Rescuer and petition Him for help. I started doing that this past week, and had an interesting incident at a Fed Ex shipping center today….
We had a rough night last night (didn’t even arrive back home until 11:30 pm or so) and because of the jet lag (from San Francisco to Atlanta), I couldn’t get Shaan to sleep until nearly 2 am. So, needless to say, after naptime today he wasn’t feeling all that great (cranky because of the jet lag/being tired) when I dragged him to the Fed Ex store to run an errand. When we arrived there, minor breakdown. He wanted to buy the “Angry Birds” candy, couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t buy it for him, threw a little tantrum…and because I am fresh off of a vacation to sunny California, I probably handled this incident WAY better than usual and gently asked him, “Shaan – are we behaving or misbehaving?”
“Misbehaving,” he answered with a little quiver to his lip. Then, he asked very gently, “Can we pay?”
At least I thought that’s what he said….
My reply, “No Shaan, we are not paying for the Angry Birds candy – I told you that we are not going to buy that today.”
His response, “No, can we pray?”
OHHHHH – Pray! Duh – mom!
My two-year old was reminding me that we are supposed to turn to God when we are disobedient and cry out for mercy!!!!!
How humble do you think I felt after hearing that????
So, I bent over with him and we prayed – right there at the Fed Ex shipping check-out counter. We prayed for God to help Shaan because he was having trouble behaving and he needed God’s grace.
And do you know what? God delivered!
Shaan was a little angel the rest of the time we were there. So, of course, we thanked God for His help when we reached the car.
But – whoa – what a lesson for me!!! How about my two year old teaching me about God’s grace? It’s amazing how much I am being transformed and how much I am learning as I try to show Shaan God’s grace. Shaan is also showing me God’s grace!
Anyway, I know my son is only two and that any efforts I put towards preparing his heart for salvation do not guarantee anything (Salvation is from the Lord alone), but I will say that I can see evidence of how the ideas mentioned in the book really do teach children about grace. Did I really expect my two year old was grasping everything I was trying to tell him about seeking the Lord, etc. – no way. But evidently kids relate a lot more to grace than we realize…in fact, they probably “get” grace better than most of us adults! Why not continue to foster them in grace rather than jade them by redirecting them back to the works-based Law?
As the authors state, “every way we try to make our kids “good” is simply an extension of Old Testament Law – a set of standards that is not only unable to save our children, but also powerless to change them….We must tell our kids of the grace-giving God who freely adopts rebels and transforms them into loving sons and daughters. If this is not the message your children hear, if you are just telling them to “be good,” then the gospel needs to transform your parenting too.”
I know my parenting needed (and will continually need) a “grace” makeover. I’m learning everyday. Thank God for the grace to learn and the grace to remember His grace!!!
“Give Them Grace.” And give me some grace too.