This week’s guest on the Raising Boys and Girls Podcast was Jeannie Cunnion, who writes and speaks about freedom in parenting. She talked extensively about how our parenting is shaped by our pursuit of Jesus, and you can listen to the full interview here.
Freedom in Christ is a freedom from needing to accomplish our own righteousness, and it comes from accepting the mercy and love God offers us through the work of Christ on the cross. It reminds us that no matter how we try or how closely we follow the rules, we still won’t earn a right relationship with God.
The pressure parents feel for perfection is often unrelenting, and while parenting will always be a difficult journey, resting in the unfailing love of Christ can help buoy us all through the hardest days. Here are some verses to read and meditate on when you feel overwhelmed by the need for perfection, and need to be reminded of the confidence and freedom you have in Jesus.
Galatians 5:12–13 (NIV)
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Freedom doesn’t mean that we don’t have to think about doing the right things, but rather that because our righteousness and salvation are secure, we can focus on following the commandment love your neighbor as yourself. And our kids are our neighbors! We are called to serve them humbly and love them unconditionally because we are loved unconditionally.
1 Chronicles 29:14 (NIV)
“But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.”
In this verse, David is praying for the temple his son Solomon will build for God. This verse reveals so much to us about how totally dependent we are on God for everything. Even in parenting, we can look to God and remember that everything comes from him.
Matthew 6:26–27 (NIV)
“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”
Jesus teaches his followers that they don’t need to worry, because God loves and cares for them so deeply. In this verse in the Sermon on Mount, Jesus reminds us of the folly of worrying. As parents, this is a particularly sweet verse to meditate on and remember that no matter how much we worry about our kids, we can rest in knowing that God will take care of them.
Proverbs 16:9 (NIV)
“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.”
Because the Lord is in control, we have the freedom to love our kids. We may worry and try to direct every step of their little lives, but ultimately we can rest in the goodness of the Father who will establish their steps, in spite of us. There is so much freedom in knowing that our children belong to God first, and that he loves them better than we ever could.
Romans 8:2, 5–6 (NIV)
“Through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. … Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace”
Romans 8 reminds us that the freedom we have in Christ is not freedom in the typical way we think about it, like political freedom. Rather, the freedom Christ secured for us is freedom from striving and perfection and following the law of God perfectly. Because of Jesus, we no longer have to live perfect lives. Our minds can rest in the life and peace that Jesus offers to us, and to our children. As parents, what sweet relief it gives us to know that our striving, our attempts at perfection, and all the ways we will mess up aren’t the end of our children’s story: Jesus is. And Jesus loves them perfectly.