Grace is receiving love, acceptance and forgiveness when you don’t deserve it.
At some point, our kids are going to disappoint us, maybe more often than we like. They will make mistakes, disagree with our values, and make poor choices. They may disrespect us, fight against us, and lie to us. They may violate everything we believe in and had hoped for their future, leaving us feeling like our heart has been ripped out.
It hurts every time. When I have been in this place, my first reaction has been to turn away, say “to heck with you,” and close off my heart in order to avoid the pain. Sometimes I did fall victim to this reaction, and stayed away for a time—until I remembered the power of grace.
I confess, grace has been a process for me. It hasn’t been easy and I’ve struggled to know what it looks like in different situations. The more painful mistakes my kids made, the more challenging grace became. I must say, it has stretched my capacity to love, but this is a good thing. I want to love my children well. I want them to gain the grace and acceptance that they desperately need to thrive and become a whole-hearted person.
I believe grace has the power to change our lives in a positive way, especially for adolescents who are struggling.
We all long for love and acceptance. Grace is life altering and all-powerful, especially when we know we are loved unconditionally even when we act our worst, make a big mess, and don’t deserve it. Grace can bring healing and restoration to our homes and redirect our children’s paths.
Grace is essentially the most powerful gift we can give to our kids. If we chose to hold a grudge and turn our backs when they make mistakes, it sends a message that they are only worth loving when they do right. This is performance-based and low on grace.
So, grace is unconditional love that is not based on their performance. It says, “I still love you, regardless of what you do, and there is no way I could love you less.”
But extending grace can be one of the hardest things we can do as parents—especially when we are hurt and our hearts are crushed.
I don’t have this grace thing totally figured out. It is a process for me when the going gets tough. However, I have learned a few things that have really helped me.
Extending grace to our kids looks like and says the following:
- I still love you even when…
- I won’t go anywhere even though this hurts. I’m still right here.
- Grace moves towards our children when we have every reason to move away.
- It says, “We will get through this.”
- Grace is letting go of our pride and opening our heart to humility, by acknowledging the fact that we too are far from perfect and deeply flawed.
- Grace remembers our own mistakes when everything within us wants to judge and condemn others.
- Grace says that you are worth loving when you make mistakes and poor choices.
- Grace acknowledges that the past is in the past and that you can never go back. It helps you to stop bringing up the past and rubbing it in your child’s face.
- Grace doesn’t take our kids’ actions so personally. Rather, it chooses to believe that this has more to do with them and less to do with you.
- Grace delivers the message loud and clear that you are there for them and will support your children no matter what they go through in life.
For me, grace has been messy and it hasn’t been easy. Extending grace has been an ongoing bloody battle from within. It feels a bit like flying with a broken wing—often times I can’t get off the ground. Everything inside says I have good reason to stay where I am. I’m injured and limited, after all.
Grace knows you can’t do this on your own. You have to ask for help. You need God and others to give you strength when you don’t feel like you have it on your own.
I don’t claim to have this whole grace thing figured out but I do know it’s how I want to live. It’s a day-by-day choice and it’s the kind of parent I want to be. I hope to foster an environment of grace in my home. My own heart longs for grace—to know I am unconditionally loved and accepted no matter what. Would I want to give anything less to my kids?
Grace doesn’t mean we don’t set boundaries, allow bad behavior, or don’t have consequences. That’s not grace.
Here is what I do know for sure about grace:
- It can make all the difference in our kid’s lives and our own.
- It creates a safe haven that your kids will long for.
- It isn’t easy, and it requires us to give it even when it hurts.
- We will be tested in our capacity to provide grace since we are all human. And sometimes, it will be a very painful process.
- Grace is an unmerited favor that God gives to us—to extend kindness, love, and forgiveness.
- Grace sends the message to our children that we care about them and are there for them more than anything else.
- And none of us deserve it—that’s why it is grace.
Questions: When has your grace been tested? How have you shown grace and was it hard for you?