I didn't plan to write an entry today. But this article (which is excerpted from a longer article) is so good I couldn't resist sharing it. It's written from a homeschool perspective, but applicable to any of us who try to raise our children in a sheltered environment in one way or another. The two things that really hit home to me were these:
"A friend of mine, a homeschool mom, just passed away of cancer. In the week before she died, I asked her if she had any regrets in her life. She told me she wished she had baked less bread - she said if she had it to do over again she would buy bread and spend more time with her children. She had invested time and energy in pursuing the "path" because she thought it was part of the spiritual homeschool package."
Oh, I have so often done that. I used to try whatever thrifty or homemakery thing I came across on blogs or in books. Bread baking. Cloth diapering. All-natural cooking. Making my own soap. Freezer cooking. Couponing. Some of it I still go back to every now and then, and none of those things are bad in an of themselves. But they are not righteous Christian things in and of themselves either. They are just choices that sometimes fit with my life as a good thing and sometimes don't, and they need to stay in that category. And certainly if they are interfering with more important priorities, they need to go.
And the other one:
"As I look back, I see that with my older children I was too concerned with how they were perceived by others. I saw their behavior as a reflection on me, and I wanted to look good. They, therefore, sensed in me a measure of pretentiousness--not the genuineness of faith that would have drawn them to me or to the Jesus I spoke about. My sincere concern for their character was overshadowed by my concern for my reputation."
It's that darn pride thing rearing its ugly head again. My parenting choices should never be motivated by pride or concern for my reputation. But that's easier said than done. When my child is embarrassing me by being bossy or selfish or annoying, I am usually less concerned with WHY they are acting that way than I am with stopping that behavior now and forevermore. So I jump all over the behavior rather than getting to the root of the matter with patience and grace. That may look like successful parenting in the short-term, but not in the long-term. And it's parenting that is all about me, not all about God and his work of grace in my life and the lives of my children.
And one final quote, the author talking about his relationship with his son:
"It is no exaggeration - in our efforts to shape and improve him, all we did was find fault with everything he did. We loved him dearly, but he constantly heard from us that what he did (who he was) wasn't good enough."
How easy it is for me to fall into that over-correcting trap.
All of these thoughts bring me to my knees with these words on my lips: Oh, Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner! And then in the next breath, Thank you, Jesus, for your forgiveness and grace!