Have you ever felt like a total hypocrite? Have you ever caught yourself doing the opposite of what you tell your kids to do?
As moms, we’re constantly encouraging our children to do what’s right. To love others, be compassionate and kind, to only speak what is edifying and encouraging. And, I frequently hear myself saying a phrase I heard many times from my own mom: If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all!
Well, this past week found me in a very uncomfortable situation. I was caught doing the very opposite of what I was teaching my children to do. I was a bad example!
Our current Bible memory passage is Ephesians 4:29-32:
“Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”
We went over the verses that morning during Morning Time, and then we talked about how we can practically live this out.
“Our words should be edifying and encouraging. We want to say encouraging words to others, right?”
“We shouldn’t tear people down, or call them names. Instead, we should say things like, ‘I’m so glad you’re my brother (or sister). You’re such a blessing to me!'”
The kids started offering their own suggestions of things to say that would be encouraging, and we also went over things we shouldn’t say. Things that would tear down rather than building up the other person.
I felt happy about the way our conversation had gone. They really seem to want to do what’s right, and to encourage each other, I thought to myself. What a successful Morning Time. I breathed a sigh of satisfaction.
Later that evening, we were all sitting at the table finishing dinner. My husband made what he thought was an innocent comment, but I was offended by it. I proceeded to let my husband know why his comment bothered me, and the conversation turned into a tense and overheated discussion at the table.
No one was yelling, and there was no name-calling, but it wasn’t edifying, and I knew it.
If only I had taken a minute to reflect before charging into the conversation, I would have known this was not the time or the place to discuss the matter!
While I was getting ready for bed that night, I thought regretfully about our conversation at dinner, and I realized just how unlike Ephesians 4 I had been (only speaking words that edify and encourage, being kind and tenderhearted, full of grace). I was instantly sorry for everything that had been said, the way it had been said, and the bad timing. Ultimately, I regretted not having better control of my spirit and my words.
I asked the Lord to forgive me, and then I asked my husband and children to forgive me. It was humbling (as it always is) to admit my sin, but it restored fellowship and love in our home.
Grace for Moms
One thing that is so important to me is being real with my kids. I never want to present myself to them in a self-righteous or arrogant way. They see me for who I really am, flaws and all. But rather than ruin our relationship, it seems that being vulnerable with them actually draws us closer. When I admit that I struggle just like they do sometimes, humbly admitting when I’m wrong and asking forgiveness, beautiful things happen in our relationships.
As I do life with my precious family, they’re going to see the real me, the good and the bad. Their struggles are visible to me as well. And yet, these are the people I love the most.
Successful family life requires loads of grace.
“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”
I still remember during my teen years, my dad apologized to me for a situation he was regretting. I instantly forgave him, and his humility only served to elevate him in my eyes. I felt such love and admiration for him just because he took the time to apologize. His attitude showed me how much he loved me and valued our relationship.
As moms, we’re going to make mistakes. We’re going to get some things wrong. Sometimes we might even unintentionally be a bad example and need to ask our children for forgiveness.
Don’t feel like a failure because you’re not perfect. Just get back up, admit where you were wrong, ask for forgiveness, and begin again!
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” ~1 John 1:9