As a mother, I have to look like the Savior.

(This was written with my son's permission because ... he wants "other parents to know how to help their kids.")

As parents we can place unrealistic expectations on our children, not even realizing we have done so until we see them falling down under the weight of such a burden.
How do I know?
Because I have done it.  More than once.
And the last expectation left a significant scar on the back of my son.  Luke.

Luke and I have been dancing together since the day he was born.  He came out of the womb equally ready for battle and affection, and we have been dancing with swords and hugs ever since. Our sinful stubbornness and innate desire not to look stupid keeps us in a seemingly constant defensive mode rather than one of humility and gentleness.  Oh yes, and the need to be RIGHT often clouds our thinking, judgment and ability to think of the other one as more important.
Oh, how the Lord is refining each of us every day!  And I have a sneaking suspicion that He can often be found with a little grin on His lips when He watches the two of us dance.  He knows WHY He put us together ... He knew how we would work, or not work, together ... how we would battle ... how we would shield ourselves with pride instead of showing our vulnerability ... and still He chose us for one another.
Mother and son.  By God's design.

When Luke answered the call of the Savior and surrendered his life to Jesus Christ, I was ECSTATIC.  I rejoiced over him, celebrated with him, and shared the news with the world.
And then - I failed him.
He was 10 years old and I expected him to think, act, talk, and live like a mature believer.  Right NOW.  You say you love God?  Then obey Him!  Now!  Go on ... do it!
AAH!  How lame is that?  How CRUEL is that?

He has to start at the beginning.

Who is God?  What is His nature?  How does He show us His love?
What does He require of His children?
What is sin? What are the consequences of sin?
How does a person grow in Christ?
What does 'meditate on the Word day and night' and 'pray without ceasing' mean?
Now that I am saved, what does God expect me to do?

A brand new Christian does not know the answer to any of these questions!  

Though raised in this house with biblical truth and a Christian worldview infused into everything we do, say and read since he was in the womb, Luke did not know that salvation means NEW LIFE. He did not know that it requires putting off the old self so we can put on the new self - the fruits of the Spirit and the attributes of Christ.  
He is drinking from a bottle.  Watery, see-through milk that requires no effort to ingest or absorb. And there I stood, his loving mother, chosen by God to raise and train this child in righteousness, asking him, and expecting him, to chew, swallow and digest choice cuts of beef.
Um, Michelle?  Are you kidding me?!?

A child does not understand what full surrender to a holy God looks like.  They believe they love Jesus, but death to self?  Thinking of others as BETTER than yourself?  Living at peace with everyone?  Overlooking an offense?  Serving one another with a joyful heart?  Unconditional love?  Forgiveness?  These things require maturity, knowledge of the Word, and an understanding of who God is and what He requires of His children.  
It takes time to learn mastery.  
A lifetime.

It is my job – it is Dennis’s job - to TRAIN Luke how to live the Christian life. "These words which I command you to day shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them to your children ..." Deuteronomy 6.  Expecting him to "just do it" is as foolish as handing him keys to the car and saying, "Learn to drive, son!"  It takes more than turning a key.  A lot more.
My son knows how to open the Bible.  He knows how to read it.  But interpreting it, understanding it, and applying it – these things require guidance, patience, training, discipleship, and prayer.  

When a young or hurting woman comes to me for help, support, discipleship or encouragement, I jump into the deep end with both feet.  Fully clothed.  There is no hesitation, no time wasted, no excuses given for why it has been put on the back shelf.  I am ALL IN.
We study the Word together, we pray, I ask her greatest sin struggles and we talk through them, I hold her accountable, I speak truth even when it is hard for her to hear.  Reading the Word and praying are not optional.  I confess sin.  We mutually encourage one another.  And everything we share, unravel, and discuss is done in love ... with affection ... with the end desire being stronger, more refined, and godly women.

So why, WHY, did I not see the need to do the same with my son?
Why did I think a child was able to become godly all by himself when 40-year-old women are unable to do so alone?
Did I assume that living in our home, hearing the Word of God every day, faithfully attending church, and having family devotions would suffice?  Apparently so.  And I was wrong.  Very, very wrong.

So, I asked to meet with my son.
I sat him down on the couch, looked into his hazel eyes that reflect my own, and confessed to him:
"Luke, I have failed you. I train you in God’s laws and in His Word but I have not come alongside you to disciple you and teach you how to live what you are learning.  It is so much more than just reading the Word, Luke.  You have to be a DOER of the Word.  You have to obey.  Day by day – struggle by struggle.  
And I have failed you.  When you were saved at the age of ten I expected you to 'just know' how to live a life of holiness and self sacrifice.  I didn't give you the grace a child deserves. "When I was a child I spoke like a child, thought like a child and reasoned like a child."  I forgot that you have no personal experience of victory over sin, or seeing God’s power in your life.  I expected you, as a new believer, to live, act, behave, and respond like someone who has known Christ for decades.
And that was ridiculous, and unfair.  I am sorry, Luke.  Will you forgive me?"

And a very quiet but firm, "Yes."

I placed unrealistic expectations on my son that were damaging, and unfair.  And I did so in the one area that requires the most delicate, honest, and purposeful care ... his relationship with Jesus Christ.

I did fail my son.  It was unintentional, but it left a mark.
The beautiful thing is - I am FORGIVEN!  By my son, and by my Father.

Though there are times I still want to pull my hair out and scream, "Are you kidding me?!?  How many times do we have to revisit this sin issue?"   And then I am reminded of a quote that a dear friend sent one day when Luke and I were dancing with swords:
"The strongest weapons take time and skill to fashion."

I am raising my son to be a Soldier for Christ.
It will not happen in a day.
I must be patient, forgiving, long-suffering, gentle, firm, truthful, and unconditionally loving ...

just as my Savior is
with me.

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