This month, I'm adding a new monthly feature. On the third Thursday of each month, I will be participating in the Hearts At Home blog hop. This month's topic is No More Perfect Kids.
It's so easy as moms to look at our kids and assume that perfection is the goal. We want them to behave perfectly and say the perfect things. To keep their perfect clothes clean and smile their perfect smiles every time we pull our phone out for a quick, perfect snapshot.
Are we really demonstrating to them what God wants for their lives by demanding an outward and impossible standard that they can never attain?
I remember so clearly a time that I was struck by the fact that my daughters were never going to be perfect. It was our first day home without a helper or Daddy after bringing baby number 3 home. I was sitting in the rocker with my sweet new baby when I heard fighting upstairs. Complete mayhem, really. The mayhem ended with one daughter being pushed down the stairs by the other. (I caught her before her little head hit the tile floor, don't worry.) The pusher lied and the pushee whined. They were both still wanting the bouncy ball more than they wanted anything else. I remember being so sad by just how much these little people were only out for themselves.
Our kids are just as unable as us to reach that impossible perfect standard. The only way to teach our children that perfection isn't the goal is to remember that ourselves. We have to be willing to lay down the mask of perfection and really let people in to our hearts. If we focus on building up our sisters in Christ and reaching out to help those in need, we will be modeling an example for our children that will far outlive worldly perfection.
More than imposing that impossible, unattainable standard of perfect on our kids we should aim to demonstrate hearts of service and love.
'A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.' John 13:34-35
'You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”' Galatians 5:13-14
I'm writing to myself here, sisters. I know it's hard to let go of that standard. I know that if I don't push my kids towards perfection, odds are that they're going to embarrass me or misbehave at the absolute worst time. I've been there. One of my children once refused - refused - to speak to our pastor. Wouldn't look at him. Wouldn't do anything but suck her thumb and smoosh her head into my side. It doesn't seem like such a big deal to me right now, but let me tell ya. As a new mom, it was devastating. My children were going to know how to speak with adults. They were going to be good conversationalists. They were not going to be those fussy children that won't talk. But in that moment, she was. And I was mortified.
My heart wasn't looking towards teaching my child to be loving. My heart was aimed right at that darn p-word. perfect. I wanted my daughter to be perfect.
So what can we do to help ourselves and our kids remember that what we are doing on the outside isn't as important as our heart's attitude? The biggest thing that has helped me is having friends that will honestly look me in the eye and say "It's okay. You're not perfect. You're kids aren't perfect and reality check - none of us will ever be perfect." It's friends that stop in and don't blink at the dirty dishes in the sink or our still-unfinished yard. It's friends that love us for who we are - a loud, boisterous, dramatic, fierce bunch - that demonstrate what Jesus meant when He said Love One Another. Those are the friends that teach my children how to love and serve others. It's not the pretty houses or clean faces of children lined up quietly. It's Jesus-loving women that embrace us right in the middle of our messy lives and dig in to help.
We can all strive for excellence. We can all hope to attain holiness. But in the middle of that lifelong walk, we can also reach out to the others around us rather than holding up a wall with that impossible perfection written all over it. Have we stopped to talk to the mom that looks a bit tired? Have we paused in our conversations with our group of friends to ask the mom with her hands full if we can help? Those moments when our children see us stopping our plans to serve another will be the moments that impact them for life.
So today, be that friend. Don't be afraid to let go of that silly p-word and just love those around you. You'll probably get messy. You'll also probably be a blessing and be blessed. No more perfect kids. Loved kids. Serving kids. Striving kids. Powerful kids, learning how to impact the world for the Kingdom of God.
Doesn't that sound so much better than perfect kids?