Christian Families Aren’t Supposed to Be Perfect
Christian families aren’t perfect, and they’re not supposed to be. If people were perfect, there would be no need for the Savior to die on the cross, and save us from our sins. As a younger mom, I expected our group of imperfect sinners to come together and form a perfect family.
|Romans 3:23 New American Standard Bible (NASB)23 for all have |
sinned and fall short of the glory of God
When I First Realized That Other Christian Families Weren’t Perfect
I first realized that other Christian families weren’t perfect around 12 years ago. My husband and I were in an intimate Sunday school class with 6 or 7 other couples. As people began to REALLY share, we realized that everyone, even Christian families, had problems.
I remember having conflicting thoughts at that time. Sometimes, I was self-righteous, thinking how my children (or marriage) would never fail the way those of our Sunday school couples had. At other times, I felt like my marriage, my children, and my Christian walk would never measure up. It’s funny how we can have great pride and feelings of inadequacy at the same time.
Around that same time, or shortly thereafter, my older children made a few mistakes. Looking back now, the things they did weren’t unusual for children their age. I just thought that my children would be different because I was at home, because I homeschooled, blah, blah, blah. See the I-I-I in that sentence? At other times I thought things would be different, if only my husband would have done x, y, or z. Notice how it was never me that was lacking or wrong. Christians DO know that people have their own free will. We also know that only Jesus (not the perfect class, Bible study, or friend group, etc.) can save . Yet somehow we forget, and try to save our parents, unbelieving spouses, and children in our own strength.
Once I realized that we were probably never going to be perfect, or at least look that way, I mourned. Being a Christian family is tough. You feel as though the unbelieving world is waiting for you to fail. In truth, they probably are. So what do you do?
How Do I Let the World Know That My Family Isn’t Perfect?
This part is tricky, because you don’t want to air your family’s dirty laundry, yet you need to be transparent. I have failed, and will probably continue to fail in this area. I’ve said lots of things that I shouldn’t have. In spite of that, here is a list of behaviors that have helped me along the way, (when I’ve adhered to them):
- Hate sins, but show love to the people that have committed them, and are continuing to commit them- you or someone in your family may need that same extension of grace someday.
- Mention a problem you are facing in a general sense. This conveys transparency without the details. Talebearers love details. Don’t give them anything to chew on.
- If you want to get specific, and you aren’t talking to a really close friend, be specific about your own failures only. This one is hard, and there will be times you need someone to talk to; make sure you choose a friend you can trust. Also, remember this verse when you’re tempted to talk to someone about a problem you have with someone else:
- 15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. Matthew 15:18 NASB
- Refrain from trying to portray a perfect picture of your family to the world. At the same time, avoid false humility. The world will hear the insincerity in your voice as you expound on the shortcomings that you don’t believe you have anyway.
What If Me, or Someone in My Family Really Fails, and Everyone Knows?
I think most of us will face this situation eventually. So how should we handle it? First of all, don’t stop going to church, or reading your Bible, or praying. Maybe the other members are going to whisper about you when you walk by, but they will naturally move on to the next scandal within a few weeks. Ask God for forgiveness with true repentance, and know that Jesus died for your past, present, and future sins. Then, go and sin no more. When you’re ready (this part is really hard), be honest about your part in the failure. If you don’t have the courage now, pray that the Lord will give you courage to be honest in the future. Sometimes things are too painful to talk about when they first happen. The people I admire most at my church are the ones who’ve continued in their Christian walk in spite of epic failures. I admire the honest ones especially. If I ever face a similar situation, those are the people I will go to first.
One thing that helps me is a little, laminated card that sits on my vanity. Sadly, I don’t remember when or where it came from. Maybe it came from a class or conference. On this card, Nancy Leigh Demoss contrasts the characteristics of proud, unbroken people with the qualities of broken, humble people. Print your own here.
For example, it reads: proud people focus on the failures of others, while broken people feel overwhelmed with a sense of their own spiritual need.
Finally, give yourself, and other people, some grace. If Jesus can forgive YOU, then you can forgive yourself and others for their mistakes.
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