[vc_row fullwidth="false" attached="false" padding="0" visibility="" animation=""][vc_column border_color="" visibility="" width="1/1"][vc_column_text disable_pattern="true" align="left" margin_bottom="0"]I used to leave notes on my Mom's pillow. "I'm sorry for __________." If something was broken in our relationship by my latest indiscretion, I tried to fix it fast. Like the time I lied about lighting matches and left the evidence in the trash can. I still remember her question: "Do you smell smoke?" Smoldering match, still in my hand, trash can full of charred little sticks, "Nope." Something else was smoldering after that one was over. Whatever it was (and there were many), I didn't stay long in rebellion before I was trying to make it right. Honestly, it was probably too soon (in that I hadn't quite learned from my mistake), but I just couldn't stand it. I had to do something. I didn't want there to be anything between us. It would eat away at me until I did something about it.
I haven't changed. If something is wrong in my marriage or with my children, I am unable to sit still in my spirit until something changes. It's almost like the Lord has allowed a sharp object to be lodged in my soul. A connection has been broken, a wire is crossed, an artery is cut off, a bone is fractured. Pick your metaphor and they will all communicate nearly the same message.
But let's say it wasn't… broken, disconnected, or fractured. There's still a strong chance that I would feel like I was going into battle without a weapon. Have you ever felt like that as a parent? Almost as if God made a mistake by giving you the wheel to a battleship.
I certainly felt that way when we picked up our sweet Maia in Vietnam. That same sense of "Oh no!" also crossed my mind when the nurse placed Caleb and Abi into my arms. I wanted to raise my hand and ask what I thought was a very important question: "Why have we spent all this time, with multiple nurses, doctors, monitors, and machines hooked up to Lisa and the baby and now they're all disconnected and disinterested? " Here you go. Here's a tiny little Asian baby to take back to your hotel… you brand new, scared to death, first time Father. While you're here, feel free to roam about our lovely Communist country. Just feed them, change them (don't break their little limbs when you do), wrap them tight, check to see that they are breathing every now and again. Everything should be ok.
Let's be honest, who didn't breathe a sigh of relief when they came to wheel the baby away (to the nursery or to bathe them) for a few hours? I was off the hook for a moment. Someone else was taking care of them. I worried anyway.
This sense of inadequacy can be magnified even more when I make mistakes. And I make a lot of mistakes. Acknowledging those mistakes can be the first obstacle though. Admitting you are wrong to your children is like swallowing cold oatmeal.
Twice in the past couple of weeks, I have made a mess of it. God has appropriately lodged the sharp object, but in my pride I can pretend it's not there. I mean, we're supposed to be examples to our kids - a beacon of right-living, faithfulness and devotion. I don't see how admitting that I am wrong can help move that cause forward.
I couldn't be more wrong in my desire not to be wrong.
I needed to leave a note on my oldest daughter's pillow the other morning, but she went to school and I went to work. I misunderstood. I jumped to conclusions. I was a tool. I missed her. She missed me. It wasn't that there wasn't something to be said (there was), or that she didn't need a bit of correction (she did), but man, did I make a mess. Then it happened again.
0 for 2.
Lord, are you sure I am supposed to be in this role?
The content of my parenting was correct. The delivery was worthy of the trash pile. Seen and unseen consequences were erupting. You start justifying, defending, prosecuting - all in your heart and head. In a crazy clash of the natural and supernatural, you find yourself in the courtroom of your mind and soul.
I may be a bit harsh at this moment, but she needs to hear this! I know I don't always do what I'm asking her to do, but it doesn't mean I shouldn't say it. I'm not supposed to be a friend here, she just needs to listen to me… a completely hypocritical, imperfect, judgmental and "not so loving in this moment" Dad.
It's no place to be. It's like supernatural jury duty except you play all the parts and the trial never finishes. All the while, He is waiting for you to realize the trial was over before it started. You lost.
It wasn't long after I dropped her off at school that I felt the black hole in my heart (both times). David describes this in Psalm 32:3-5 when he feels the Lord's heavy hand on him. Like a virus invading your spiritual cells, sin left unconfessed can make you feel like you're wasting away. While "fight or flight" is instinctual, it never works for dealing with sin. The only option is surrender. God knows this and He is so gracious to press down on our hearts.
Even though I had been stingy with grace, He was ready and willing to pour it out in buckets. Why He does this is a mystery, but I guess that's why they call it grace.
In the most recent incident, I prayed a lot throughout the day, thinking of her sweet face. I kept asking the Lord to "fix it". I know, super spiritual, but sometimes that's all you can muster. I walked through the door after work and found that the Lord had been leaving some notes of His own - in her heart and mine. She had tears in her eyes, so did I.
I didn't need to make my case. I felt no need to be in the place of authority or righteousness. I had none. Are there still parent/child things to be solved? Always! Will she need to continue to grow through her stuff? Yes. Will I need to continue to realize my inadequacy and fall at the feet of Jesus every day? You better believe it.
Probably the most important gift I have received in these moments is the realization that the best thing I can offer my children is my weakness. Admitting I am wrong - even in my "need to be right" parental moments, can be the very best parenting this world has ever seen.
I enjoyed a plate of crow that afternoon.
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