Being a parent is hard.
Being a parent is hard for a lot of reasons. The main reason I’m finding that being a parent is hard is because I’m selfish and lack grace in my own heart.
I know this is true because recently I’ve seen my own lack of grace…and my wife has pointed it out to me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not mad about my wife calling me out. Well, if I’m being honest, I was actually really pissed and defensive when the conversations (plural) happened.
Here’s something the Holy Spirit is pointing out to me recently through conversations with my wife: I’m a control freak. I want to control everything and everyone around me. I want the people around me to do what I want them to do so that I am not inconvenienced.
That goes double for my own family sadly.
It causes me great sadness and forces me to repentance when those closest to me point out things in my life that don’t match what I claim to believe. During a conversation the other night with my wife, she made a statement that cut me deeply. But that cut caused me to examine my own heart, leading to the conviction of the Holy Spirit and to confession. I don’t remember exactly how she phrased what she said but it was along the lines of this:
“You know so much theology and have such knowledge but the way you act sometimes looks like you don’t really understand grace.”
My immediate reaction proved that she was right. My immediate reaction was not confession and repentance but anger and defensiveness. She was showing me so much love and grace to even point out an obvious sin in my life and I proved that very sin by doing exactly what she was pointing out.
I lack grace and tenderness and humility in my own home and marriage. That caused me to meditate on some things that I’m still thinking and praying about.
1. Loving confrontation is hard to do properly
My wife called me out on something and justly so. Here’s the problem. She was afraid to do it because she was afraid of how I would respond. Do you know how heart breaking that is, that your own wife is afraid of how you’ll respond? I am deeply saddened that my own wife is afraid to confront me in love with sin in my life for fear that I’ll respond in anger rather than with sorrow and repentance and kindness and grace.
Confronting sin in our hearts is hard, especially when we think we’ve got it figured out. And lest you think you won’t get angry when people call you out on sin, take a hard look at yourself. If you’re anything like me, you’ll find yourself being defensive. Being defensive is a sure sign of pride and a lack of grace (I’m raising my own hand right now).
When those who love us confront us with sin in our lives, let’s be gracious and humble and receive that confrontation for what it is: It is God’s kindness to us that He gives us others who will love us enough to demand more.
2. Swallow your pride and recognize sin.
For me, pride is a major sin in my life. I know at its root my angry reaction to confrontation is pride. Pride in thinking I’ve got it all figured out and I don’t need you or anyone else to point out sin. Pride in thinking I know it all. I’ve honestly found that many in the Reformed camp (raising my own hand) have so much knowledge that it can make us proud. We think we’re smart cause we spend hours reading and studying and talking about deep theological things. But we’ve missed a hard truth.
Pride kills grace.
Theology does you no good if it doesn’t change your heart. Our knowledge should lead us to more humility. If not, then we do not actually understand the doctrines of grace.
3. Confess your sin to those you have sinned against.
It isn’t enough that I agree with God’s assessment of the sin in my heart if I don’t then confess it and turn in repentance away from my sin and into His arms of mercy. And don’t just confess to Him. Let us confess to each other and to the ones we’ve sinned against. Say to them, “I have sinned against you by…(you fill in the blank)”
As soon as that conversation happened with my wife, the Holy Spirit immediately pricked me with this question:
What if God treated you with the same grace you gave to others?
That one hurt. If God loved me the same way I love others, I’d have to jump through all kinds of hoops and perform. I’d have to say the right thing all the time, behave as He wanted me to before I could come to Him.
That’s not grace.
That’s not mercy.
And it’s not how God receives us.
Our Father receives us just as we are. We don’t have to say the right thing, eat with our fork and not our hands, pick up our own messes and be quiet and polite before He will accept us. Praise Him for His mercy that He doesn’t tell us to get ourselves together before coming to Him!. He just says ‘Come.’ And when we’ve messed up and sinned, He welcomes us warmly back to His arms saying, “Your debt is already paid. You don’t have to earn your way back.” (Isaiah 55:1-2)
Let us drink freely of the fountain of grace. The price has been paid on a hill called Golgotha.
Soli Deo Gloria!