“You need to go and pray! I am not going to listen to this anymore!” Elle stormed out of the room and I sat, shocked, in the wake of her absence. The other children looked from me to the door and back again, eyes wide with astonishment.
Moments before, I’d called a “family meeting” and yelled at my children about things they weren’t doing right, ways they weren’t meeting my expectations, problems they were causing. Angry, I paced before them, yelling and threatening, until my second daughter, the gentle one, stood and left the room. That brave little girl stopped me in my tracks and refused to allow me to hurt her feelings any longer. She, my quietest child, found her voice and used it to defend her tender heart. I have never, ever been so proud of her as I was in that moment.
I called her back to me and I apologized. Then told them all a story…
A father set his little boy on something high, and said: “Jump! I’ll catch you!”
But the boy was afraid.
So the father stepped a little closer and said again: “Jump! I’ll catch you!”
But the boy was afraid.
So the father opened his arms wider and said again: “Jump! I’ll catch you!”
And the little boy gathered all his courage and jumped.
The father stepped away, and the little boy fell to the ground.
“That will teach you,” said his father.
I was horrified when my friend told me this story. But in that moment, there with my hurting children, it all made perfect sense.
Maybe my kids don’t need to trust that I will never hurt them, because that simply isn’t true. No relationship between human beings will ever be free from struggle, anger, or pain. Maybe my children need to see me not as a perfect role model but as a fallible sister in Christ, walking along beside them, muddling my way along the road just like they are, injured from my own falls but limping heavenward, nonetheless. Maybe what they need to trust is the fact that I’m as perfectly imperfect as they are and need forgiveness and redemption just as much as they do.
I’ve heard it said that children get their image of God from their parents. God forbid! I pray my children see me as weak, uncertain, faulty, face down on my knees in humility, seeking forgiveness for the ways I fail <every. single. day.> Maybe if they see that, they won’t be tempted to base their concept of God on their perception of me. Maybe they’ll understand how little I resemble their Savior on a day-to-day basis and maybe, just maybe, they’ll base their understanding of God on personal revelation, realizing that while I—and every other human being they will ever encounter—am imperfect, untrustworthy and sinful, HE IS NOT.
I may drop them. He never will.