One thing I have learned for sure when it comes to parenting: there is a lot I don’t know. Seven years isn’t a very long time. In so many ways, we are just beginning. But there is this other way, this clock-eating way, where it seems we have so little time left.

Just this morning, I felt the tears well up as I sat in the quiet hours before anyone else got up. I believe every word I’ve written here, every truth that Jesus speaks, every thought on grace I’ve shared. Even so, I can get caught up in the living of it. Writing on grace for so many days in a row is un-doing me in good ways. But there is a nagging voice of shame that still speaks, haunting me with fear, especially as I prepared to write about grace in parenting: you aren’t doing enough.

And it made me think about how that is the sentence I nearly always hear when I turn my thoughts toward mothering. There is a competing voice of truth to counteract that shame one, but it is harder to hear sometimes.

And so I have to find words that reinforce the truth voice, weapons to battle the discouragement, the shame, the worry that I’m messing up my kids. I don’t think I’m alone in that. And so, for this 22nd day of thinking on grace, I simply want to extend grace to you – not a list of ways to be a better parent, not an arsenal of great ideas on how to be a more fun mom (although I’d love to read a post about that!). Instead, I want to offer you (and me) some truth voices to take the place of the nagging voice of shame.

If you are a parent who feels overwhelmed with decisions that need to be made — breast or bottle, send or wait, private or public, soccer or violin, work or stay home, medicate or second opinion, group dates or not at all, curfew or no curfew — let these words first wash over you today.

The Lord your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.

Zephaniah 3:17

Everything begins and ends with this — that the Lord is living among us, a victorious warrior. Strong. Ready. Prepared. Able. And somehow still, in the midst of all that strength, he sings. It is a beautiful, perfect picture of tenderness, both strong and soft, like a man and a woman, like a father and a mother all at once. He parents me in the way parenting was meant to be. But he isn’t simply the best example to follow, as if he were far away and we are to try to somehow imitate him. The goal is not to parent like God, the goal is to let God parent through us.

“The first step is learning the simple difference between God’s job and ours. God’s job is to fix and to change. Our job is to depend, serve, and equip. This is the work of grace. And it is more restful than you can imagine.”

Jeff VanVonderen, Families Where Grace is in Place

If we could believe that this work of grace is restful, if we would dare to parent from a place of love rather than a place of fear, we would see that he is able. Not just to do the parts that I’m not good at, not just to pick me up when I begin to feel weak, but that the God of the Universe takes up residence inside me, and he will parent — with me, in me, as me — as I trust him. Dare to believe he is who he says he is. That is grace in parenting.

I will be sharing a list of resources near the end of this series for any of you who might like to study further on grace. Don’t forget to visit the other lovely blogs hosting 31 Days Series, my girls at Nesting Place, Balancing Beauty and Bedlam, My First Kitchen, Life With My 3 Boybarians, Reluctant Entertainer, The Inspired Room, and Remodeling This Life.