How to Stop Finding Your Identity in Your Parenting

10d76c0b9660719a33d896961c720e16“You can’t find your identity in your children.” Visit a parenting class or get lost in a book.  Either way, you’ll (thankfully) hear this message quite a bit– most likely because we all forget it.  If we’re really honest.

We do our best to tell the world our sons and daughters are unique.  Shouldn’t be put in a box.  Don’t have to mirror their dad in interests.  Don’t have to share their mom’s personality.  I sometimes wonder if I’m really reminding myself.

Despite the very best of intentions, we often mistake our kids for Band-aids, using them to cover up our own regrets from days gone by.

But that’s another post for another day.

Just as my son and daughter can’t dictate my worth, I can’t find my identity in my parenting, either.  I can’t find my identity in my parenting.  I can’t find my identity in my parenting.  You see, I have to preach this to myself.  Over and over and over because I forget.

What’s the difference?  How does finding my identity in my kids differ from finding my identity in my parenting?  In my role?  In my title as “Mom”?

Instead of extracting my self-worth from my kids’ accomplishments, the latter is defining who I am from my own accomplishments as a parent.  As a parent.  And while (I hope) a common thread throughout this blog is a desire for selflessness, for today, let’s focus on ourselves.  Just this once.

I often ponder (too much) how in the world we thought we could be parents.  I mean, really, when you have a soul that will go on for eternity sleeping in your house, it’s easy to feel unworthy and inadequate.  At least I do.

And in the moments when my need for a Savior is flagrant, the fear of wounding my cherished ones is agonizing.  It’s a fear so deep I can hardly pull myself out of it.

But I’m part of my kids’ story.  I’m part of the brokenness they see in the world.  My sin points them to the message that Jesus is radically different from anything and anyone.

“Get over it, Christan,” my husband once spoke into the rivers pouring from my eyes. “You will wound our children.  And those wounds will make them run all the faster to Jesus.”

And I don’t really like that role.  I desperately want to be the one they reminisce about in their college dorms with fondness.  With peace.  With security.  “Remember how mom always thought before she spoke?  How she was so incredibly patient?  How she created a safe environment for us to be ourselves?  Every single day?”

But the job of Savior is already taken.

And while I pray His redemptive work is reflected in my own life and in my interactions with others, I surrender my children over to their Maker.  To their Rescuer.  Even if it means uncovering my brokenness and repenting of my sin to the sweetest little faces in my life.

Really, my identity is just like my kids’ — Desperate Sinners Hungry For Mercy.  And while I hope I’m leading them to the cross, I don’t point to it.  I journey there, too.  And I stand beside them with hands stretched out — just like them — catching all the redemptive blood that fell on that first Good Friday.

“You deserve so much more,” I’ve learned to say to my kids.  I force myself to stop pretending I have it all together and that they are the only ones at fault.  And I tell them.  I tell them they’re so special and deserve a parent that is more tender.  And more thoughtful with spoken words.  And more patient.  And safe.

“I know who that Someone is, kids.  Let me introduce you to Him.”

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