We started on a new sports adventure last night with my younger daughter. It was her first lacrosse practice. This is the first time she's played any sport other than hockey. Last night was the first time she'd ever caught, thrown or scooped a lacrosse ball. As the girls threw the ball back and forth, I could see her frustration mounting as she missed ball after ball after ball.
You see, even though she had never played lacrosse before, she wanted to do well. She wanted to be perfect. She wanted to be able to catch the ball, throw the ball and scoop the ball like the college players she sees on TV. Instead of counting every time she caught the ball as a victory, she counted every time she dropped the ball as a failure.
As parents, we're a lot like my daughter learning to play lacrosse. We let our failures and our shortcomings overshadow our successes. We forget that the goal of parenting is not to raise perfect children but to raise children who are following God's plan for their lives.
None of us are perfect. We have bad days. We yell at our kids. We get tired of the daily grind. We don't always want to help with homework. We sometimes just want a few minutes to ourselves and we'll do whatever we have to to get them. We're not always kind and gentle. We're not always patient.
Yet, too often, we expect to be perfect parents. We expect to raise perfect kids. We think the world is measuring our worth as a parent by the behavior of our kids. You know what? Kids have bad days, too. They get tired. They get cranky. They get selfish. Those days are not a reflection of our parenting any more than my daughter's first day of lacrosse is a reflection of how good or bad of a lacrosse player she is.
God doesn't ask for perfection. He asks us to lay our burdens at His feet. He asks us to depend on Him for wisdom, grace and patience. He asks us to let Him fill us up with His love so we can lead our kids to Him. John 15:4 says "Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me." The key to being a good parent is not perfection but allowing God to work through our imperfections as we walk with Him.
Our worth is not measured by how good our kids are. Our worth is not measured by how perfect a parent we are. Our worth is measured by the fact that we are a treasured creation of God. Our worth is measured by the fact that God thought we were worth the ultimate sacrifice -- Jesus' death on a cross.
So, when you have a bad parenting day, when you drop the ball more than you catch it, don't give up. Don't feel worthless. Because perfection is not the goal.