With our daughters now 19 and 17, I’m nearing the end of my active parenting years. While I’ll always be a mom to our girls, very soon I won’t be speaking directly into their lives on a daily basis. (With our 19-year-old at college out-of-state, our younger daughter gets all the benefit of my attention now, for which I’m sure she’s grateful…ha ha!)
As I look back over the past years, I see some areas where I think I’ve done okay. I’ve done none of it perfectly for sure. Yet I’m pleased that I passed along a love of reading books. Both girls make their beds most mornings. They can drive a car and balance a checkbook and clean a bathroom.
But what about the more important things? Have I challenged them enough to develop their character? Have I emphasized spiritual values and modeled disciplines that will affect their success in the future? I’m sure those things haven’t always gotten the time and attention that they deserved.
I’ve missed some opportunities. Teachable moments have drifted away without me claiming them. I was too busy doing the daily stuff of life – or just caught up in my own world – to focus on them.
So when I sit and worry about how I’ve messed up as a mom and feel badly about all the parenting opportunities I missed, I cling to this truth.
God’s grace will fill in the gaps.
I’ve made mistakes and failed as a mom many times over. But, to the best of our knowledge, both of our daughters have accepted Jesus as their Savior. Therefore, the same Holy Spirit that lives in and works on me does the same for them. They have God’s Word to lead and guide them well beyond anything I’ve tried to teach them.
And this verse gives me a lot of comfort.
“Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” ~Philippians 1:6
You see, these children aren’t mine anyway. God simply gave them to my husband and me to steward for Him. Certainly, I’m accountable to do my best with that responsibility. But our children are a work in progress. And they are God’s work.
While He has graciously allowed me to parent them, ultimately He is in control of accomplishing His purpose in their lives. Whatever lessons we failed to teach or principles we didn’t fully convey, God will continue to work in their lives. My prayer for my girls’ future can be that God will fulfill His Word and perform His work in and through them.
On the flip side, if I’m tempted to take credit when I see our daughters make a right choice, I must stop and remind myself that the successes, too, are only possible because of God’s grace. It’s not my fabulous mothering skills that finally paid off. No, rather it’s a reminder that God can work in spite of my failings.
So if you’re discouraged about any parenting failures today, take heart. Our God is gracious. He loves our children more than we do. And He can and will work in their hearts to make them exactly what they need to be.