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Parenting in Jesus’ Name (2 of 3)

The temptation: Be Perfect

The second temptation we face as parents is the temptation to be perfect.  For example, many moms I know and love feel the constant pressure to do it all and to do it all perfectly; in short, to be impressive.  Before inviting guests over, the house must be spotless.  Before leaving the house, they must look “put together.”.  Before going to bed, their 2nd grader’s art project must be perfect.  The children must all be taken to practice, arrive on time, and have on matching socks and a nutritional snack in their possession.  It is exhausting. Yet I am not denying that there is a “payoff” to being impressive.  Perhaps you can take a moment right now and acknowledge what impressing others has done for you?  (applause, awards, recognition, self-acceptance).  But there is also a cost.  Take another moment and consider what impressing others is costing you in your relationships (relaxed time with family, lack of patience, stressed out).  Is the payoff worth the cost?

Jesus was faced with this temptation to be impressive.  He, however, did not give in to it. He was not compelled to play to the crowd in order to win their approval and prove his worthiness like a well-trained circus animal.   He did not come to impress but to love, and loving others requires being with people not impressing them.

What we really want as human beings is connection and belonging with others.  We have bought into the lie that impressing others will lead to connection.  The truth is, it doesn’t.  Think about the people who you love most in the world.  Is it because they impress you or because they “get” you, understand you, are with you and for you?

The Practice: Be Present

In part one of this blog series I pointed out that love begins with God and therefore the number one thing we can do as parents is abide in God’s love.  From Him comes everything we need to parent our children faithfully.  If we abide in God’s love we will be free from needing to impress others and free to love them instead.

When we love others in our limited and conditional ways it opens up to them God’s unlimited and unconditional love.  Our imperfect love of others helps them to experience God’s perfect love.  When we shift from aiming to impress to aiming to love we are able to nurture relationships that embody God’s Kingdom on earth. We are more relaxed.  We have more time for one another.  We truly see one another. We tell stories and we laugh and we cry.  We become a community of love.  Can you imagine your family embodying God’s love in such a way as to be a slice of heaven on earth?  Not only can it happen, it is God’s intended purpose for your family and it begins with you.

Being more present to those you love also comes with a cost.  What is it going to cost you to be more present with those you love? (saying no to some activities, allowing the house to be less than perfect, giving up some control). But there is also a tremendous payoff.  What is the payoff for being with those you love?  (joy, peace, greater intimacy and belonging, fun, laughter, significance).  

Quit trying to be perfect and aim to be present.

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