The Not So Perfect Family
What is your picture of the ideal family?
I was sitting with my toddlers the other day, exhausted and on edge. My sweet 5-week old baby has trouble napping independently at times. I'm constantly torn between comforting a crying baby or playing with a crying toddler. Back and forth. Back and forth. And no one is ever really happy, least of all me.
The particular day in question I found myself sitting on the floor in the play room, listening intently to the cries coming from the baby in the other room. Were they hunger cries? Tired cries? Should I get up or just give him a minute to go back to sleep?
A small plastic truck came hurtling through the air and found it's mark on my forehead.
I had told Rooster not to throw toys a MILLION TIMES already that morning. I had patiently corrected him every time he'd gotten carried away in his two-year-old exuberance.
But this time I lost it. Maybe it was because it was unexpected, or maybe I was just so close to the edge already, but I can't remember the last time I was that angry.
I grabbed his arm, intent on doing something, anything to get his attention. "STOP IT!" I shouted with an edge to my voice that silenced the room.
Then it was gone. The anger, the frustration, all of it fizzled out. I simply didn't have the energy. I was left sitting on the floor with a frightened little boy and a sinking feeling of failure.
Apparently, we're not the perfect family.
I know this probably doesn't come as a shock to most of you. Of course, we're not perfect, but sometimes I feel this pressure to look perfect.
We all have our own definition of what an ideal family looks like. For me it's one mom, one dad, and several well-behaved children who learn obedience early and practice it often. There are family devotions, homemade bread, clean toilets, and lots of fun and laughter. The ideal family is never late and never forgets to pack extra pants so the two year old doesn't end up in Sunday school naked after yet another diaper failure.
Yeah, that would be great.
The only problem with my picture is that it's all focused on the outward appearance. When I think about my family this way it's easy to think maybe we can get it all together. There is some hope of achieving these outward measures of perfection. Both of my kids did eat broccoli for supper after all!
However, on mornings like this, when I find myself stressed out and losing my temper, I am once again reminded that the Lord doesn't look on the outward appearance. He looks on the heart.
And he's not looking for perfect families. He's looking for godly ones.
His definition of the ideal family has nothing to do with the silly things I get caught up with (like punctuality and cleanliness). Rather God's definition of an ideal family is all about how much we love him.
He wants parents who show Christ's love in their marriage by forgiving each other when they mess up. He wants moms who give their children grace when they disobey. He wants dads who pray everyday for wisdom to lead their families well. He wants children who laugh and share in the joy of growing up surrounded by love and gentle, patient correction. He wants families that speak words of life to one another, who serve one another, and who admonish each other to hold on to their faith when times get tough.
He wants families that are completely sold out in love with Jesus. And those families will never be perfect.
As I've struggled over the past few weeks to find our new normal, I've adjusted our schedules, our lifestyle, and our habits, but along the way I forgot to adjust my heart. I forget that a mother's first and primary goal is to give grace to her children. They need to grow up in a godly family, not a perfect one.
And that's good news because I really can't do it all! If I judge my day based on getting it all done, a clean house, a warm meal, and well-behaved children, then I am doomed for failure. Those moments of anger will only increase as I find myself constantly frustrated, unable to meet my own unrealistic standards.
Instead, I need to keep my eyes on Jesus. God's plan for my family is much deeper and much fuller than the outward appearance.
He wants to shape our hearts.