This is not one of my most glorious parenting moments, but I feel compelled to share it. Maybe it will offer some encouragement and wisdom. Even if it is just “what not to do.” Ha!
On Friday afternoon, I picked up the kids from school. In complete disregard of my husband’s advice I had started a little tradition. Every Friday, when the kids hop into the car, there is a little treat for them. A mini-celebration of the end of a busy school-week. It can be anything from a banana to a bag of chocolate. It doesn’t really matter what it is, as long as there is something there for them to enjoy.
I was running from pillar to post and forgot to grab a treat on my way to the school pick-up. “Never mind,” I thought. I’d be running to Tesco’s afterwards anyway, I needed to pick up a few bits; groceries, milk, eggs. I could tell the kids they could pick up a treat in the shop. That could be their surprise for the week. Added bonus: you get to choose the treat.
As soon as my daughter came running out of the classroom, she said: “Is my surprise in the car?”
“No,” I said. “I am so sorry, but I had a really busy morning and I forgot to pick it up.” Immediately, I saw her expression drop into a disapproving glare. “But, I have to go to Tesco’s. You can pick your surprise when we get there.” Not particularly impressed with her mum’s lack of organisational skills, but happy enough to compromise, she got into the car. Her brother was already waiting for us to set off shopping.
All the way to the supermarket there was bickering in the car. All of us tired and frustrated after a busy week. None of us seeming to have the ability to endure any form of the slightest irritation. The pressure started building.
On the way, my daughter had put her heart on a specific type of Krispy Kreme doughnut. With great expectation, she ran into the shop, and to her dismay they were all out. She wasn’t happy. I was trying to discuss something with a shopping assistant, and couldn’t pay attention to my distressed daughter at that very minute. Loud and clear for all the shoppers to hear, she exclaimed, “Mum, do you not care?!” My eyes said everything she needed to hear in that moment. The pressure increased.
A few moments later, after a debate about the fact that you can have twice as many sweets for half the price if you don’t go to the pick ‘n mix stand, we found ourselves in front of the pick ‘n mix stand. In order to side step another embarrassing spectacle, I allowed them each to fill their cups to the brim. The pressure grew.
Off we went to pay for our stuff. As I packed and paid, the bickering continued. I threatened to put their sweets back. The queue behind me, a mixed row of judgement and pity, seemed to get longer and longer as I tried to pull myself together and get out of there! The pressure increased significantly.
At this point I was walking so fast, that you wouldn’t really think that the two kids trailing behind was related to me at all. After throwing the groceries in the car and shutting the door so hard that the windows rattled, I got in the car with two kids who stared at me in horror. Boom! I exploded. In two minutes I tried to correct over twelve years of bad parenting.
My daughter burst into tears. My son looked at me wide eyed. “I think we broke Mum,” was written all over his face. Immediately he offered to give up his sweets, clean the house, feed the dog for the next year and not play on his PlayStation for until he graduates from high school. “How can I prove to you that I’m sorry, Mum?” he said.
“I don’t need you to prove that you’re sorry, Aidan!” I shouted, “I just need you to listen.”
In that bottomless pit of parenting despair, I had a little glimpse of the Father’s heart. He doesn’t need us to prove that we are sorry for what we have done. He simply wants us to listen.
I remember telling my children, when they were little: “Use your listening ears,” when their behaviour started to get out of order. I don’t want them to wallow in self-pity. I don’t want them to sacrifice all the things they enjoy. I want them to be happy and healthy. I want them to enjoy every blessing that I can possibly give them.
This made me think about the years I have wasted trying to prove to the Father that I was sorry. Sorry for all the mistakes I have made. Sorry for the people I have hurt. Sorry for the wrong things I believed. Sorry for not lining up to his expectations of me. And then I heard the Father say: “You don’t need to suffer for your mistakes. My Son already did. Now let go of your mistakes and listen to my direction.”
The Father only wants what is good for us. He wants us to be happy and healthy. He wants us to be whole. His heart is not to see us suffer for our mistakes, but to surrender our weaknesses to him and allow him to give us direction and instruction.
Condemnation is like spiritual earwax. It muffles the voice of the Father, who tells us who we are: loved, treasured, precious, good. When we can’t hear his voice, we can’t move forward. We stay stuck in our self-pity, in our guilt and shame. We have to clean out our ears, so we can hear the Words of our faithful, loving and wise Father.
As we follow his voice, we will start to become more like him. Our behaviour will start to line up with what he speaks over our hearts. Condemnation robs us of growing up. Do not entertain it any longer. You don’t have to feel bad for what you have done. Just let it go and listen, so you can move forward. There is a new day, new mercies, new blessings, new beginnings.
You just have to use your listening ears.
“So now the case is closed. There remains no accusing voice of condemnation against those who are joined in life-union with Jesus, the Anointed One. For the “law” of the Spirit of life flowing through the anointing of Jesus has liberated us from the “law” of sin and death. For God achieved what the law was unable to accomplish, because the law was limited by the weakness of human nature. Yet God sent us his Son in human form to identify with human weakness. Clothed with humanity, God’s Son gave his body to be the sin-offering so that God could once and for all condemn the guilt and power of sin. So now every righteous requirement of the law can be fulfilled through the Anointed One living his life in us. And we are free to live, not according to our flesh, but by the dynamic power of the Holy Spirit!“
Romans 8:1-4 TPT
Today, I hear the Father gently teaching: “Precious One. I do not require you to suffer for the mistakes of the past. It has all been taken care of. You are free to have Life, and enjoy it! As you submit your heart to the leading of my Spirit, you will see how easy it becomes to run without falling. There may be times when you trip up, but I will never condemn you for it. Just come to me, and listen to my Words of Truth and Love. Let it go deep into your heart and change you from the inside out. Listen, as I lead you. You will find your feet. Just follow me.” ❤