Sunday, April 3, 2011

Awkward Honesty

In our women's Bible study, we have been talking about how salvation "by grace alone" in Jesus radically changes everything. For example, knowing we are truly loved and saved by grace allows us finally to be truly honest with ourselves about our sin, to God and to others. We can admit we need help, and ask for it:

With that request for help comes and end to our playacting before the imagined audience of God and the people around us. We also receive relief from the intolerable pressure to demonstrate how much spiritual progress we have made and to show how spiritually mature we have become. (Grace Upon Grace by John Kleinig p. 39)

My children are so good at forcing me to put abstract theological ideas into practice.

This week, my daugther skipped over to me, excited to tell me about her day at school. First, English class:

"Mommy, at school today we read a sentence that said, 'The mommy was patient with her active child' and I said (snort), 'That's not my mommy!'"

"What do you mean by that!?" I protested. She giggled and went back to her painting. Painting. Mothers with no patience do not let their children paint, do they? Not to mention there were FIVE other children painting along with her at that very moment!
I pressed her a little bit, but she probably sensed my defensiveness. "What do you mean I am not patient?" She shrugged and smiled and continued painting.

Hm, did she tell her teacher that too? I wondered. As a litany of my own "good deeds" ran through my head, I thought about sharing them with her. I wanted to make her believe that I am a patient mommy, show her how many of the things we do every day would be impossible if I really had no patience whatsover! I even thought about lecturing her about how hard it is to be patient with little boys; a fact she ought to know, as she loses her temper with her brothers at least as often as I do!

But who would I be kidding? This is my daughter we're talking about here. The one that sees how I get up in the morning, bleary eyed and staggering to the coffee pot, kicking children out of the way as I go. She knows the wild-haired person I am after a day of time-outs and failed nap attempts.

I wish I was always patient, compassionate, and kind to my children, and I hate that I am not. I know that I cannot fool God on this point, but I still would really like to fool my children. I would like to hide my sin at least from them, to never let it hurt them or discourage them. I wish they did not have to know that even mommy is selfish and ugly, even mommy must come to God as a pathetic beggar, relying only on His grace.

Grace. That is what keeps me going. The grace of Christ, who takes my sin from me and nails it to the cross, who cleanses me, who gives me what I lack, who cares for me even though I sin; this grace is my only security, the solid foundation on which I stand even when my works are tried by fire and found wanting.

God reminded me of this grace, and helped me to speak, "You are right Lorraine, I do not have enough patience. I am glad we have Jesus who forgives us and helps us, aren't you?"

It felt very unnatural, to let my sin lay out in the open in front of my child, and to refrain from covering it again with my words. But hiding my sin would teach them to hide theirs, instead of exposing it to the light and receiving grace and healing from Jesus.

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:7-9


  1. Emily, I loved this post- among others! This rings so true to me. I can only imagine the lessons God will teach me through children.

  2. :) Thank you Hannah! Kiddos sure do keep you humble and awkward!

  3. So true... Thank you for this.

  4. Thanks for linking! Great point--laying out our sins for our child is so hard, bu they are too so forgiving as Jesus is...

  5. So very true.... Thanks for sharing! And being honest! And linking up!


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