Forgive Us Our Debts (and Our Parenting Shortcomings)

No other relationship has inspired so many adorable pictures and anecdotes than that of the parent-child relationship. There’s the classic smearing diaper cream all over themselves, their sibling and the family pet… The horror of cutting their own hair… The prodigy Michelangelo drawing masterpieces on the walls, the carpet and themselves… Whether it’s the frazzled mom or half-joking dad telling the stories, we give our appropriate response of sighing sympathy or indulgently smiling, secretly reminding ourselves that our present or future children would never do that. But then all our educational plans and cleaning schedules face the test of reality.

[image: Brave, triplets]

As parents, it’s our moral obligation to do the best we can for our children. But what happens when our best intentions collide with our charges, leaving us exhausted and our children frustrated?

 For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. ~ Jeremiah 29:11

Some children, like adults, more easily go with the flow or are better at articulating what they’re feeling–physically and emotionally–than others. For example, when my two-year-old son is upset, he clearly lets me (and sometimes the neighborhood) know what is bothering him. Or when I ask him what he’d like to pray about, he pauses as if considering and then tells me. One night last week, he wasn’t feeling well, which left us home while dad and older brother so he said “dad, brother… sick.”

For whatever reasons, expressing emotions doesn’t come as naturally for my four-year-old son. He’s the one who makes me question not only my abilities to parent, but pretty much everything in life, including my sanity. And it’s always been this way. It’s hard to comfort him in those moments of trying to find what will help.

But then I remember that I’m the same way. If you (or a loved one) have traveled through any of the valleys of chronic pain, fatigue, depression, anxiety, grief, loss, or a number of other diseases or disorders, then you likely have experienced those moments of being inconsolable. I think we can take a child-like approach to our pain in those times and run into our Father’s arms. Just like our children want to sit on our laps, even when they can’t find the words to explain, we can sit with our Daddy. But He is the perfect parent who already knows what is troubling us and more than that, He knows that all this is temporary.

We may not know how to make the pain go away for our children or loved ones but we can hold their hands through this. We can:

  • slow down to notice and affirm their emotions
  • ask questions to help call out their experience
  • look for joy and remind ourselves that this pain will be calm again
  • stand beside them in praise and petition to God

Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.

Matthew 6:9-13




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