Believe it or not, your chatty toddler is not the most talkative person in your life. You are. To quote Paul David Tripp, “No one is more influential in your life than you are, because no one talks to you more than you do. Whether you realize it or not, you are in an unending conversation with yourself, and the things you say to you about you are formative of the way that you live.”
I’ve been thinking about this statement all week. And I find it very unsettling. The more I analyze my thoughts, the more I feel like Charlton Heston discovering that Soylent Green is actually dead people. THIS is what I’ve been feeding myself??
The only conclusion I can draw is that by and large, I am a liar. Unless I am very intentional, the steady stream of self-talk running through my mind on a daily basis is unbiblical. Especially when it comes to parenting. As a result, I often feel discouraged, afraid, and insecure as a mom. Here are the two biggest lies I believe:
Lie #1: My children are a reflection of my worth and identity.
Believing this lie is the surest way to climb on a rollercoaster and never get off. I know I believe this lie when I ricochet between pride and despair depending on how my children behave. Even worse, this lie produces selfish parenting. I’m driven to control my kids because my identity is riding on their behavior. At the end of the day, I’m not motivated by love for them, but love for myself.
And here’s a sad thought—how are we going to counsel our child through his identity crisis when our identity is wrapped up in his identity? No kid needs a mom who falls apart every time he struggles. He needs a mom who’s steadfast because her hope is in the Lord. Only then can she lead, counsel, and be a model for him.
The sweet truth is, Jesus Christ bestows my worth and identity. O Lord, may this be the thought I tell myself the next time my children shine or disappoint. May I grieve their misbehavior and be motivated to parent well because I love them and because I love You, not because I am insecure in my own identity.
Lie #2: The greatest determining factor in my child’s spiritual growth (or lack thereof) is my performance as a parent.
If lie #1 leads to selfish parenting, I think this lie leads to fearful parenting. And boy is this one deeply rooted in my heart. It’s why I constantly feel guilty for turning on Dora instead of reading the girls a Bible story. It’s why I pat myself on the back when we do a biblically-integrated craft or have a spiritual “discussion.” It’s why I resent the fact that ungodly parents can raise godly children, and godly parents can raise ungodly children. If I were completely honest, I’d admit that I want a guarantee. I want to know that if I do X-Y-Z, then my children will grow up to love and worship the Lord whole-heartedly.
But the Bible teaches that salvation has and always will be in the hands of the Lord. John 6:44 says, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him.” Yes, I am called to raise my children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). Yes, I am called to train them up in the way of the Lord (Proverbs 22:6). But it is not my training that will save them. At the end of the day Jesus saves. Not Bible stories and sheep crafts.
Rather than be scared by this, I am choosing to be freed by it. Because the sweet truth is, nobody is more passionate about my children’s spiritual growth, or more capable of producing it, then Jesus Christ. God, forgive me for foolishly thinking my children are better off in my hands than yours. Surely I can entrust their spiritual growth to You. I pray that You would draw them to Yourself, and empower me to demonstrate the gospel in our home, by Your grace and not my own inadequate abilities.
What would change in our lives if we started telling ourselves the Truth about everything? Not just parenting, but the truth about our future, the truth about our status before God, the truth about our acceptance and forgiveness and hope for change? What if we told ourselves the truth about the value in all the menial things we do all day? The truth about God’s ever-present grace?
What if we started just by listening to our thoughts? By thinking about what we’re thinking about. And then choosing to think in a more Christ-centered way. My guess is that you and I would be a lot more joyful. A lot less fearful. And a lot more fun to be around :)