The Bigger Picture

She didn’t see. She didn’t hear. And she will never know the full scope of our days. And after much prayer and a few little tears, I’ve remembered that is more than okay.

My child did not go to bed when my mother told him. Five different times. You read that right. Five different times. He got up and came out to her with a smile each time. And before that, he excitedly tried to grab the food she set down on the counter. And yes, she thinks all these things make him not merely a four year old learning boundaries, but overly defiant and in need of a medical label. My mom is a physician, a strong woman who thinks with her head. Her daughter (raises hand) is a singer and writer. Like her, I am a strong woman, but I think with my heart. We are night and day in our differences, and yet we are a family trying to find common ground in the area of nurturing children. While she was very clearly stating she would not ever watch the children again because of my son’s inability to stay in bed when told, I was silently questioning my own parenting tactics and how those played into the situation. But grandparents, while they love their grandchildren, often have different thoughts on the best ways those grandchildren should be taught. We must respect their differences, even if we disagree with them. And that goes both ways. Our children should see a united front in a world that is already very divided.

Here are a few nuggets to tuck away and bring to mind when needed.

  • My children (and yours) are sinners! Full blown, separated from God sinners. But guess what? So are we, and so are their grandparents. I know that comes as a shock to some, but it’s the truth of the matter. Most adults don’t grasp the depth of what that means, so how can we expect children to understand the weight of it?
  • No child acts obediently at all times. But neither do adults—even those who love Jesus! It seems far fetched for adults to expect little ones to be born knowing right from wrong or to not test their boundaries when they are trying to navigate what those boundaries are.
  • Children are in need of grace and mercy, just like us. While my mom saw a child grabbing for food, my little boy saw a yummy treat he was excited to eat. While my mom saw a child who would not go to bed when told, he saw a dark room too scary to stay in. Children need to be met with grace and mercy, and if we desire those things from God, then we should also offer those things.

My mom saw those bad, undeveloped pictures of a four year old, but what she missed out on was seeing the King-size bed he made to surprise us the next morning. He made a King-size bed—for no reason other than to see his parents’ excitement over his skills! She saw him grabbing for the food on the counter but didn’t hear him thanking God for bringing her here and having “so much fun” when he was praying over his breakfast the following morning. She only saw a glimpse into his day and our life. And the glimpses she saw then (and unfortunately those she usually sees) are the worst ones at the worst times. But her glimpses are not the complete picture, and I have to remember that when I look at my child.

Were there consequences for his behavior? Absolutely. Will those consequences lead to better choices in the future? That certainly is our prayer, but it is not and never will be a given. Until my child recognizes the need for a Savior, he will not recognize that his actions, no matter how innocent from his end, affect others. As for my mom and me, well, since we too are sinners, we need to better express the grace of God toward each other and toward our differences. Does it mean we don’t love each other? Of course not. It simply means we are stretching and being stretched to better understand our own relationship and how that takes on new light now that I am a parent and she is a grandparent. We are all on a journey, trying to be more like Jesus. Along the way, we stumble, we fall, we even fail. But He meets us with magnificent care and offers us wisdom to do things better the next time, because there will be a next time until we meet Him face to face.
Pressing On,

HandGabbieGabbie Nolen-Fratantoni loves Jesus and is passionate about serving him through the arts by leading worship and writing for various ministries. She is married to Greg, her hard-working, iron-sharpening-iron spouse. They are opposite in personality but equal in dedication to their marriage and family. Gabbie and Greg are the proud and sleep-deprived parents of two active, sweet, and fun boys and recently welcomed the arrival of their first little girl. An Aggie and graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary, Gabbie is a small-town country girl trapped in the city and loves getting to know people and encouraging them as they seek to know Jesus and make him known.

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