I have often made the mistake in my thinking and operating as a mom that if I am not doing it “perfectly” then I am not doing well enough.

The other day I sat around the table with my kids, after a previously sad day. I could feel we were all still on the mend.

The day before one of my children just flat out decided there was something he wanted to do that sounded fun to him, and it all of the sudden just didn’t matter that it was against our rules. His decision carried a heavy influence and before long every single one of my children joined in the fun. Oh they love fun.

It was almost funny to me until one who I held particularly responsible said, “Well, I stopped when you said to.”

“What?!”, I thought. This was a clearly defined and known rule around these parts. I had “said to stop” before he ever began. Excuses. It fell hard on my ears because here’s my heart as a parent: Go ahead and disobey me, but don’t ya dare lie to me about it or not take responsibility if it’s yours to take.

Disobedience happens.  I don’t want that for them because I know the rules I have given them are for their good. But it’s not disobedience that does the most damage. The damage mostly occurs when their hearts can’t find a way to be honest and humble—really, truly, honest and humble: the kind that says, “Yeah, I knew what I was doing was wrong.”

Our reconciling doesn’t stop there but it sure can’t start anywhere else either. As long as they are making excuses we can’t move forward in truth. Otherwise, the only way forward would be superficial, it wouldn’t be a heart change. What’s the point of that? No time for that.

So sometimes I have to wait for it. Sometimes I want to holler until it sinks in. Sometimes it doesn’t seem to come. Those are the actually sad days.

My kids disobedience doesn’t surprise me, it’s when their hearts go away from me that it hurts. Disobedience is a human condition, but denial, lack of honesty and lack of taking responsibility for our disobedience, well, that’s a matter of having a hard heart. That’s actually less human that we were ever intended to be.

My kid’s disobedience separates them from a close relationship with me. But I don’t stop loving them or wanting them to come to me. I more than ever want them to come, with honesty, not excuses. I just want them, not their perfection.

But lies get in there don’t they? They think if they say it out-loud, the truth that is, it will be too much. If they say that they wanted to have fun more than they wanted to obey then maybe I won’t know what they want to be true: they want to want to obey me. It’s true! But that’s not “enough” to make it happen, that’s true too.

Somewhere in all the lack of “enough-ness” of their actions truth gets confused in their minds. “Enough-ness” of their selves, of their acceptance by me, feels linked to whether they obey me or not. So it’s easier not to be honest, it’s easier to make excuses. Except for one thing: I can see the truth.

I can see the truth. And it’s not too much. I just want them to be honest. I want to help them move forward and make better decisions in the future. I don’t want that so that they can live perfect little lives! I want that because it’s what is best for them. I love them. I accept them. They are mine. That’s the truth.

Trying hard to follow my rules could be nice, if they are motivated by love, my love for them, for their good and their understanding of that. But trying hard to follow my rules, or at least appear as though that’s what is happening (because that makes them feel like they are doing the “right” thing)—that’s not good, that’s a loss.

So we have to talk about this at my house, a lot. I tell them I love them. I loved them before I ever knew them because they are mine. I loved them more every day since because they are mine. It’s not because they learned how to crawl, conjugate verbs or pop-a-wheelie.

Those things are wonderful and I am thankful, but my love was never and will never be based on that or anything else they “accomplish”, including obedience.

Yes, I want them to “obey” me. But if they can be honest with me when they don’t obey me now, if they can come and reconcile with me, not hide, then maybe that will affect more than just one sad day.

Maybe, they’ll learn that their Father in heaven, their Creator and designer of the laws this Universe is governed by, just wants them to come too. He wants their humility. Because like me, He sees the truth too right? And like me, it’s not too much. He loves them because they are His. Oh, and you and me too. He loves us.

I have often made the mistake in my thinking that it was my sin alone that separated me from God, but He has talked to me about that a lot. He tells me He loves me. He wants me to come.

It turns out that the more I do, come, the more I do choose honesty over excuses, the more I lose my own idea of “perfect”—the more I have to offer my kids, my husband, and anyone in my life! This is another way “His grace is made perfect in our weaknesses”. If I didn’t have my own sin, lack or needs to deal with, grow through and discover the immense love of God through, how would I teach my kids about that same love?

I will either pass on to them my old and dead way of thinking or I can choose honesty and be renewed day by day. I can be taught so that I have something to teach. There are sad, ugly and “imperfect” days and ways. But that’s not the end, in fact, if we choose it, it could be a new beginning.

Come with honesty, humility and kick perfectionism to the curb, where it belongs, with me today?

“Father… Let me exchange thoughts with You! Teach me…
There is no other place that my spirit dwells in peace and full release than in Your Presence.
Help me to know and understand Your nearness now, even in this place…
Thank You that You lead me gently! May I see the reality of You in all—so that my life will speak that You are all in all.” —Excerpts from my prayer book: Pray, Like a Woman in Labor, Day 9

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I’m creating a place to think, breathe, dig and pray. I believe in the work of motherhood, physical and spiritual. I believe what we are passing on to the next generation will shape and form the world. Our children need us, but we don’t have to be perfect for this job. Just willing. God can do the rest.