Dear Child, When I Fail You…

Child hugging knees

Dear child,

I have discovered my most important contribution as a parent. I get to teach you– daily–that people aren’t perfect. Ugh! It’s a rotten, humiliating gig. You notice all the inconsistencies in my words and behavior, hypocrisy magnified through the microscope of so much time spent together. And despite all my dreams of being a calm and loving mother, you also see me at my tired or angry worst and feel the brunt of my humanity because parenting happens 24/7.

I imagine that someday you will rejoice at the chance for independence, starting fresh, and doing things your own way. You will have big dreams of doing a much better job than I ever could.

But unfortunately, I will just be the first in a long line of disappointments.

Sometime in your early independence, your friends, or college roommates, or significant others will also make serious missteps–and you will begin to recognize that fallenness is a more common condition than you had once supposed. Broken promises, missed appointments, heated words, fractured friendships–they will all begin to fray the edges of your trust.

At some point, a high and mighty hero will fall. A respected leader’s secret addictions or bad judgment will come to light. You will wonder who you can trust, if not your parents, friends, or heroes.

And then? I’m sorry to be the bearer of this bad news, but it’s got to be said. At some point, your own brokenness will come into focus.

Perhaps at the beginning of marriage, with its awkward attempts at sharing not only a home, but time and dreams, or your first child, who will test you beyond your (perceived) limits, or a failed responsibility–your human-ness will be nakedly exposed. Your own short temper, self-centeredness, and stubborn failures will smack you backward.

You–a new, fresh human who was going to get it all right–you will be exposed as a fraud, either to others or to yourself. It will not be as easy as you thought. Your human condition will betray your plans, expectations, and hopes like it betrays us all.

Whether we strive to do good and be helpful or give in to selfish cravings at the expense of others, our humanity plagues us all–parent and child.

Our words and actions show that no human heart has the ability to be everlastingly patient, loving, or wise.

We cannot trust each other, and we cannot trust ourselves.

But now that you know what you can’t trust, dear child, let me tell you what you can.  

I have found One who is strong and unchanging and pure, without any hypocrisy, who doesn’t crack with self-will or hidden desires. One who always does what is best for the other. He is a treasure in an unpredictable storm of humans. And while He won’t perfect us or make us invincible superheroes, He will be a rock we can stand on and a guide for our journeys, an example to follow and a hope for all nations.

He is Someone who–without any hesitation, alternate agenda, or selfish gain–gave His all for failing humans like you and me. You can trust Him even when you can’t trust yourself.

And this is why, while you will still find fault with me and I will keep on tripping, I will keep pointing you toward Him. Don’t let my failures cause you to reject or ignore the beauty of this grace personified and love embodied. I will fail you, friends will fail you, and you will fail yourself–I can promise you that–but I can also promise you this . . . the One who put the stars in the heavens, holds the oceans in their places, and formed you before I even met you? He will never fail you.

With lots of love,
Your always-loving, often-failing, thankfully-forgiven mom

This article was originally published at Her View From Home on April 2, 2021 as “Dear Child, When You Face Disappointment”

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