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What About When I Mess Up?

In an earlier blog, we talked about the importance of speaking words of love and life over our children, not just assuming they will understand by seeing our actions.  Today, I want to talk about something that we struggle with when learning to speak life over our children; messing up. I used to get so upset with myself and feel so much guilt and shame when my children saw or experienced my sin.  It caused me to remain silent, because I did not want to seem hypocritical or dis-genuine.

First I must say that I am not condoning or minimizing wrong behavior.  living in a lifestyle of sin is wrong, and I am not promoting flaunting or consciously sinning in front of our children, but I am acknowledging that we all sin and addressing it.

So, what do we do on those days when we feel so hypocritical: when we speak love, but anger or impatience is what our actions say? We must be aware of the strategies of the enemy and be careful not to empower our sin to enslave us into guilt-ridden silence instead of allowing the fruit of God’s forgiveness to deliver life giving words of restoration.

First of all let me say that I firmly believe teaching our children about what to do when they mess up is important.  Duet 6:7  says to teach your children at ALL times and during all sorts of activities. This includes times that we mess up.  Sin and repentance, forgiveness and change, are key concepts in our relationship with God and each other.  Just as important as teaching them what is right, is teaching them what to do when they do wrong.  Because, let’s face it, we do wrong things in this life and no matter how well we train our children, they will too.  Showing our kids only a perfect life will lead to condemnation and confusion.  Condemnation comes from thoughts like this, “I must be the only person who struggles with this.  Its not normal for it to be this hard or mess up this often.  I will never be able to overcome this.”  Confusion comes from thoughts like, “Now that I have blown it what happens next? Should I throw in the towel; am I lost forever? How do I get back on track?”

Sin leads us either to the feet of Christ or increasingly farther away from Him.  Guilt and shame will lead us farther away, just the same as justification and ambivalence do.  We must show our children how to humbly and quickly bring their sins to Christ; show them how to repent, not just to Christ, but to others.  We must show them how we use the Word and the Spirit to change and to overcome.  When our children see our weakness, it is an opportunity to show them how Christ’s power is made perfect in us (2 Corinthians 12:9).

The enemy will seek to condemn you into silence. No! This is the time your children need to hear you: need to hear that you still love them, that you do believe in them; need to hear that you were wrong and you are sorry; need to hear and learn how and what to speak when we are wrong.  They need to hear that you are not perfect, but God is.  They need to hear that your wrong actions or words don’t negate or change the truths that you have spoken over them.

We still have many “teachable moments” at our house (some mine, some theirs), but I am learning to no longer allow the enemy to bully me into silence or self-shame; instead I repent, I teach, and I boast in the Lord’s power which is perfecting me.

Through His Grace,

Emily Assell

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