6 Ways Jesus Can Change Your Parenting
This month we have been praying for our kids to accept Jesus as their Savior. We know that Jesus has the power to change our hearts and our future, but Jesus also has the power to change our parenting! We have experienced this first-hand, specifically after launching this ministry. We had no idea how much our families and lives would change for the better after being more intentional with our kids about prayer.
We try to be real and honest with our readers, so we want to share 6 ways that Jesus has changed our parenting journeys!
#1 - Jesus has increased my patience.
Everyone is patient before they have kids...or so we think. In general, I am a really patient person, but goodness, my kids know exactly how to push my buttons. They know exactly what to say and when in order to make me lose my mind. I have found that when I take the time to focus on Jesus before the day begins and continue to keep my eyes on Him as my day goes on—I am a more patient mom. It's not magic, there is no formula—it's Jesus.
I often stop as I feel myself getting really mad and do a breath prayer. Sometimes I stop and recite the Lord's Prayer with my eyes closed. My kids know exactly what I'm doing at this point and they usually stop and wait for me to open my eyes and they even listen better!
One thing I have learned is that I cannot rely solely on myself to parent my kids well. I need God's wisdom and peace to respond to my kids in a way that will guide their hearts to make good choices and feel safe, confident, and strong. Parenting is a marathon and God gives me the endurance to run it smoothly and consistently.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. -Proverbs 3:5
Focusing on Jesus throughout my day reminds me to be still and rely on Him instead of my own strength. I'm not strong enough, brave enough, patient enough, or good enough to parent without Jesus, but He does give me the Fruit of the Spirit and makes my parenting better!
#2 - Jesus has filled me with more grace.
Sometimes I get really mad at my kids for their behavior. They usually end up apologizing in the sweetest way and, if I'm being honest, that can be really annoying because I want to stay mad just for a little bit! Maybe you can't relate to that, and that is awesome, but it's true for me! I love my kids and always will, but I'm a sinner in need of a Savior and sometimes I want to stew in my anger or annoyance. But kids first learn about love from their parents. Isn't that powerful? And also terrifying? We are their very first examples of what love should look like and feel like. Personally, I want my kids to learn Christ-like love from me. Forgiveness and grace is the foundation of that, even when it's hard.
It's amazing to me that we have a Creator who loves us so much that He wants us to run to Him and He wants to forgive us. It's so beautiful and we are called to model that. Following Jesus makes forgiveness all the more powerful and He changes my heart to more willingly extend grace to everyone around me.
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. -Ephesians 4:32
#3 - Jesus has given me confidence.
The other day my oldest son had a total meltdown after I very calmly and very kindly asked him multiple times to pick up our basement.
He yelled, "I hate you! You're so mean! You're the worst mom ever!"
I got down on my knees, looked him in the eyes and said, "I love you. That hurts my feelings and makes me sad. Your words have the power to hurt my feelings, but your words do not have the power to make me feel bad about myself. My confidence comes from being a beloved child of God, just like you are, my confidence does not come from being a good mom. I'm going to go upstairs, and when you're ready to speak to me nicely we can talk again."
I don't always respond that nicely to my kids; sometimes I roll my eyes, make this weird grunt noise that my daughter now makes (whoops), and walk away angrily. But no matter how I react or what embarrassing thing I do (or my kids do), I know that I am first and foremost God's child. He gives me the ability to parent well and He loves me deeply no matter how many times I mess up. When I truly remember that in my heart, it is easier to forgive myself for my mistakes and then let go of them instead of dwelling on every single hard moment.
God created each and every one of us uniquely and beautifully as His masterpiece and just by believing in Jesus, we are adopted into God's family and given the most beautiful inheritance. That is something to be confident in! It is also what God wants us to show off about, not our excellent parenting skills.
As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world’s interest in me has also died. -Galatians 6:14
#4 - Jesus has worked through my mistakes.
A few weeks ago, I had a really rough day of reacting to my kids. I took the kids on a walk to share with them how sorry I was and to confess to them and to Jesus. Brinley asked if she could pray for me and told me I was the best mommy ever. She said, "I think the person we were supposed to pray for and remind of God's love today was you!"(We had prayed that morning that God would show us someone to pray for and remind them of God's love). I was so overwhelmed at the way God used my sin to reveal His glory.
There have been so many moments similar to this one. I listen to Satan's lies and start to go down the shame rabbit hole. I imagine that I've somehow ruined my kids with my imperfections. Then, God swoops in and shows me that He is so much bigger than I thought.
A new friend of mine, Patty, reminded me recently how beautiful it is to "let God's love and glory shine through your cracks." We can either try to cover them up, or we can let God use them.
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. -1 Peter 4:8
Author and speaker, Lisa Bevere, talked about growth versus guilt on my favorite podcast. Lisa and her husband have four wonderful adult boys who love Jesus and she shared on the episode that many people ask her what they did right in raising them. The answer they give to people made my eyes well up with tears. She said that it wasn't the many things they did right, it was the things they did wrong and the way they handled them. She said they both apologized to their kids whenever they were in the wrong. Their humility made the kids feel safe and reminded them their parents were human and also needed Jesus.
I used to think that apologizing to my kids was a weakness or that it would make them feel unsafe. I wanted them to see me as a perfect example of a peaceful, compassionate, Jesus-loving mom. Now, I am learning to admit my mistakes and be honest with them about the way Jesus is changing me and the things I am asking Him to grow in me.
#5 - Jesus has made me a more peaceful mom.
The greatest change in my parenting since starting this ministry has been the peace Jesus has given me. I am not a peaceful person by nature and I have been known to stress out. A few months ago, my husband paid me my most favorite compliment yet. He said, "Sarah, you really bring peace to our home." This is all Jesus you guys! I have never heard anyone else use my name and peace in the same sentence.
After my third baby was born, I struggled with postpartum anxiety and depression. I had three little ones under four years old and I went to bed every single night feeling like a failure. I desperately wanted to be a "good mom." I listened to parenting podcasts and sermons, I read all the books, and I googled a million questions a day.
One morning, I cried out to the Holy Spirit and begged Him to speak to me about my kids and how to parent them. In tears, I decided to just sit silently and listen to what He might have to say to me. He gave me a specific word for each of my three kids. It was a word that popped into my head that I needed to hear about each child. I started implementing what the Lord told me that day and saw positive changes and more connectedness in our family right away. How sweet is God? He wants to help us parent. He is waiting for us to cry out to Him and ask Him for help. That was the day I surrendered my belief that I had to do this mom thing alone. I became so aware the Creator of the Universe made every single one of my kids and He truly loves them more than I do. He knows what they need every second of every single day.
Of course I still struggle with stress and anxiety. But, God is changing me and when I take the time and stop to listen, He always shows up for me and brings me peace. Instead of white knuckling it through each day, I pray out loud in front of my kids. "Jesus, help me." "God, I don't know what to do in this situation." "Father, bring us peace right now." I am learning to rely on Him and cry out to Him.
Breath Prayers by myself and with my kids have helped bring more peace to our home too!
#6 - Jesus has been changing my mind.
I am a recovering perfectionist. As an Enneagram One and someone who has been hard on herself since as long as I can remember, it is going to be a long road to recovery. I am looking forward to Heaven when I will get to actually be perfect, but for now I am asking God to teach me more about His grace.
In my early years of being a mom, I really tried to do all the things. I wanted everyone to do devotionals, smile in pictures, eat healthy homemade food all the time, etc. Over the years, God has revealed to me that my kids don't need a perfect parent. They need a perfect Savior! He hasn't even asked me to be a perfect mom. My job is to love Jesus and to love my kids.
The Bible tells us that God can rewire our brains, change our minds, and renew us.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. -Romans 12:2
The Holy Spirit has been changing what I value. I don't want my kids to grow up and say, "Mom was perfect," or "Mom had a really clean house," or "Mom was a great cook." (I am pretty sure they won't say any of those things!)
What I really want them to say is, "Mom really loved us, Mom really loved Dad, and Mom really loved Jesus."