We are always running around trying to minimize the severity of problems, especially if it is my problem or my family’s problem.
Trying our Best
People like to say, “Well, my parents did the best they could.” That was the problem!
Anyone who does anything “the best that they can” will mess it up. The Bible is clear that, without God, I can do nothing, and doing anything without him is pointless. Psalms 127 says, “It is vain (pointless) to defend or build the city if God is not in it.” So, first of all, parents should recognize that in their best efforts, they cannot be good parents and that if God is not in their efforts it will not work.
I find it far better when parents admit that raising children is a task beyond themselves, saying, “Lord I can’t, but you can, now show me what to do.”
It is comforting to know that even when we are open to feedback from God’s word, the Holy Spirit and others, we will still mess up some, but the children will do well. As our children observe our humility and our struggle with some of the patterns from our past, they can become motivated to not get into the same struggles and instead to rise above. They will even find that having a good attitude towards parents who struggle humbly will prepare them for important roles in their own lives. Plus, as we grow and learn we will do better than if we “tried my best.”
At least I’m not…
Another sin pattern that keeps us from growing is comparing with others.
- The people who go to Alcoholic Anonymous say, “I am glad I am not a pedophile.”
- The pedophiles say, “I am glad I am not an angry rage filled person.”
- Angry people say, “I am glad I am not a glutton.”
- And the gluttons say, “I am glad I am not an alcoholic.”
And round it goes. The only ones to get any help from God are those who say,
It is me, it is me, it is me, oh God, standing in the need of prayer!
The apostle Paul said, “this is something that everyone should accept that Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom I am the very worst.”
Anyone who thinks, “well, for sure, the apostle Paul was definitely the very worse and I think I am not as bad,” is like the Pharisee looking up to heaven and saying, “I thank God I am not like that publican!” Remember the Pharisee did not go home justified and the publican did.
I think we are all terrified that if we took a full look at the mess we really are/or how bad our childhood hurt was/ or what a mess the world is in/ that we would discover that it was all hopeless. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
The only thing seeing the mess without minimizing or comparison can do is fill us a need for God and with awe when we find that God is bigger than the mess. His grace is bigger than all my sin. And that he gets the last word in the end, no matter what!
When I am working with people in counseling who discover that they are worse than they thought, I often see them scramble for ways to minimize it, excuse it, blame it, or compare it. I advise them to accept that they and their reality are all much worse than they think but God is much bigger than they think he is.
Do not forget, where sin abounds, grace even more abounds. When weakness abounds, and I feel like I am the least and the weakest, then I am much more important than those who think they have it all together.
“Dear Lord, help me to go ahead and see the negative reality realistically but never to forget that you are bigger than that (Whatever “that” is). Help me to remember you can fix it, you can bring good out of it, and you have the last word. Praise your holy name.“