Yesterday I told you about the challenges of having a relationship that can handle vulnerability and honesty, even when it hurts. I talked about how at times I have second-guessed my parenting decisions to encourage my children to be honest and real about who they are around me. There are times when I could see how it worked to my parents’ advantage to not have to deal with the “real” me, but instead interact with the “sanitized” version of me – the girl who might please them.
Today, I want to tell you what I love about my children’s confessions…eventually:
When my children have come to me with a story that has left them feeling ashamed and beat down by their own decision-making snafus, my experience (I cannot speak to theirs) has included the following….at some point:
I have felt that receiving their confession was a privilege, a sacred act between people who love each other, an opportunity to bear each other’s burdens as brothers and sisters in Christ – not just as parent and child. And most of all – moments that stand out as satisfying, sustaining, life-giving, highlights of being a parent. To have a child who is willing to trust us, their parents, with such a hard thing, fills me with admiration for them. It is an act of courage, an invitation to connect, a moment of trust and, I think, a discipline of faith. It is, at its heart, what I dare to dream that every family and community should work toward building – relationships that can bear up under the weight of crushing confessions and disappointment in self because the confessor agrees with God – we are valuable because God and others love us, not because we are lovable or able to be perfect and pleasing all the time.
We’ve had many more parenting moments that leave me cringing, but I write this to suggest that doing the work of putting shame in its properly aligned place – eliminating judgment of it as all bad or all good – allowing it to do it’s work – inspiring confession and change – is a worthwhile thing to pursue. We won’t do it perfectly, of course, but can we move toward a more balanced perspective? Let’s try!