Today's post is by my beautiful friend, Jeannie Cunnion. Jeannie is the author of Parenting the Wholehearted Child and the mom of three boys. Jeannie is also an Auburn graduate and I loved meeting her at Allume this past year.
This parenting thing can be so hard.
I desire to speak life. I long to overflow love. Because these three boys of mine, these extravagant gifts from God- they slay me- and I want them to know the depths of my love for them.
But I’m painfully aware that my words don’t always speak truth in love and my actions aren’t always motivated by love. I am fallen and still learning how to “die to self” in the everyday moments of motherhood.
I often feel a lot like the apostle Paul in Romans 7:15-25 (MSG) where he begins with, “What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise.” And he concludes with, “I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question? The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does.”
Like Paul, I so often find myself in the trenches of motherhood declaring, “My only hope is Christ in me.”
Christ who not only has love and gives love but Christ who IS love. Unconditional, unwavering, love.
When I first began my parenting journey almost eleven years ago, I believed that it was my striving to be a “perfect Christ-like example” that would spur my boys on to love and follow Jesus too.
But several years ago, in the depths of despair at the awareness of my brokenness and my inability to be a perfect parent, God met me and opened my eyes to the truth that my boys don’t need me to be a perfect parent. What they need is for me to be honest about my need for a perfect Savior.
And it was only then that I began to understand that my boys won’t long to know the heart of Jesus through my striving to be perfect but through the unconditional love of God brought to full expression in me and through my parenting.
|No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us. 1 John 4:12|
To reflect the unconditional love of God to my kids I first had to remember that God does not say, “Stop sinning, clean yourself up, then come to me and I will love you.” No, Jesus died for us while we were still sinners (Rom. 5:8). In Christ, we are simultaneously sinful in ourselves and righteous in Christ. Indeed we are ever in need of his grace: “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins” (Rom. 3:23 – 24 NLT).
As much as we long to love and lead our kids perfectly, we will stumble and fall. Only Jesus can and does love perfectly, wholeheartedly.
What we can do is lead our children in a relationship with Jesus and pray that they grow hearts that are tender to the Holy Spirit who convicts us of sin and leads us to repentance.
Friends this is such good news! Though we can’t change or shape our kid’s hearts, the love of Jesus can and does.
This radical love of Jesus is not only unconditional, it’s transformative! It cannot leave us where it found us.
God’s grace inspires a grateful heart of obedience.
God’s grace fuels wild love for Him and sacrificial love one another.
Our children don’t need us to be perfect. They need us to come alongside them in confession of our shared need for a perfect Savior who loved us enough to lay down His life for us and cover us with His righteousness before God.
We are fully known, fully accepted and fully loved by God in Jesus Christ. That is the message of love our kids long to hear and need to be reminded of over and over again.
Jeannie Cunnion is the author of Parenting the Wholehearted Child. She has a Master’s degree in Social Work, and her background combines counseling, writing, and speaking about parenting and adoption for organizations such as Bethany Christian Services and the National Council for Adoption. Jeannie serves on the board of Raising Boys Ministries. She also serves as the Council Co-Chairman at Trinity Church in Greenwich, CT, where she enjoys leading parenting groups and Bible studies when she isn’t cheering on her boys at one of their sporting events.
Connect with Jeannie here:
Are you exhausted from the pressure to be a perfect parent raising perfect children in this imperfect world? Do you ever wonder, “How did these precious children get stuck with a parent like me?” If so, let these grace-drenched pages saturate your heart with God’s unfailing love while also equipping you to be a vessel of God's unconditional love to your children.
With authenticity, conviction, and a lively sense of humor, Jeannie guides parents on a transformative journey into raising wholehearted—not perfect—children, who live from the freedom found in being wholeheartedly loved (and liked!) by God.
Parenting the Wholehearted Child equips parents with Biblical wisdom and practical ideas to teach children they are fully accepted by God, not because of anything they do or don’t do but because of everything Jesus has already done for them.
Woven throughout the book is the good news that it is God’s extravagant grace, not a parent’s perfect performance, that transforms the hearts of children.