The Poverty of Parenting

Reviewing these days what I believe in the core of me…that truth which indeed delivered me: I am dark yet lovely (Song. 1:5). And this truth is finding its way into who I am as a parent.  I am not sure what it is for most, but for me, parenting is a revealer of my ‘darkness’ more than any other function, role, or relationship I play a part in. It exposes quickly every faultline and false foundation in me.  And in these days, I am confronted with a great amount of weakness, a stinging amount of impatience, of pride, of selfishness, and the like.

In these exposures of my ‘darkness,’ I am hit full force with the tide of my weighty weakness as I feel its unavoidable impact upon my children. There is no way of evading it. I will fall short. I will miss the mark. And I will do it every day. With that comes the sobering reality that every honest parent since Adam knows, the little hearts and minds of my children will be marked by my shortcomings and errors.  It is one thing to be connected with your sin and shortcomings, yet quite another to watch as those faults impact little frames and wound little hearts.

And as I ponder these things once more, I almost hear the Holy Spirit whispering, “Surprised again? Surprised by your weakness? Surprised by the sin within?” That which He has seen so vividly all along, now blares before my eyes, and I am the only one thrown off by it.  He rushes in with the remembrance that the Gospel and the Good News never begins with my success or my godliness, but with His fullness in the wake of my poverty. I come poor. I come in need. I come empty. I come as a child. And there, in that place and that posture, He receives me. He embraces me. He delights in me. And He fills my emptiness with Himself. Here He calls me lovely and crowns me with His enjoyment.

This is the gospel I am to live before my children. And it is as I drink of the depths of my poorness, while cleaving to Christ continually, that I will offer my children my best as a parent. I can do nothing apart from Him. Any kind word or good attitude that is not born of the Spirit is wind and a vapor at best. Better that I give my children a vision of desperate dependence and complete poverty of my own with intermittent whispers of the strength of God than giving them some impressive outward spirituality rife with the sickness of my own strivings. The sooner I come to the end of me, the greater my entrance, and thus also my children’s’, into the strength and abundance of God. Yes, living in the deep of my spiritual poverty and clinging to the Vine of Christ—not just in theory but in actuality, and not just occasionally but incessantly–I am at my best as a mom.

These children are not mine to bring forth, they are the Lord’s. I am not their savior, He is. My perfection will not deliver them but only the One who is perfect. And the truth of the matter is, they will benefit the most from seeing me rushing to the Cross when I am wrong, clinging to my Redeemer and leaning into Him for every bit of my strength. This is living the gospel before them, and in turn pushing them into the path that will become for them their own shining testimony of, “I am dark but lovely to God (Song. 1:5).”