I recently saw a Facebook post with a list of the things research has found Christian parents regularly do that help their children continue attending church when they leave home. The post was meant to inspire and affirm the need to keep the Lord in front of our kids. It had a fantastic graphic that made the different things we should be doing clear and easy to understand. It was a great post.
But I was left reeling from worry over all of the ways I’m failing my kids. Have I made them serve in church enough? When they were little, I was good about having Bible time with them daily; now that they’re teenagers, we try our best, but is it enough? What if I’m not doing the “right things” to teach them about Jesus? What if they grow up and stray from their faith because I missed a step in the equation?
Panic began to creep in. That’s an understatement. Panic rushed over me like a tidal wave, threatening to consume me for good. I’m a girl who loves an easy-to-follow, step-by-step plan, but if I miss a step … what happens then?!
A few days later, a friend tearfully mentioned something she was going through with her teenagers that made me say, “Girl! Same!!” I quickly shared about the post that had torn me up, and we had a lengthy conversation about the struggles of raising kids.
In that conversation, the Lord made several things clear.
First, mom-guilt is real. It wakes us up in the night. Then, our thoughts about the thing we shouldn’t have said, the thing we should have done, or the mistake we made keep us up until the light of dawn creeps into our windows when we finally pull ourselves out of bed to start the coffee. We begin our day guilt-ridden and consumed with worry for our kiddos.
Christian mommas know that nothing, absolutely nothing, is more critical for our children to grasp than God’s love and to come to know Christ as their Savior. Add that knowledge to the natural mom-guilt that comes with our gender, and we truly can be consumed with the weight and responsibility of training our children in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6). (I’m not saying dads don’t experience guilt, but it’s called mom-guilt for a reason).
Preparing our children for launch takes a minimum of 18 years, but I’m pretty sure mom-guilt stays with us until we take our final breath. That’s a really long time! If this problem is real and common, there must be something in Scripture to give us hope, right? How can we make it through? Better still, how can we run the race with endurance (Hebrews 12:1) so that we don’t collapse before the finish line?
That’s the other thing the Lord revealed to me in the conversation with my friend. As we spoke that morning, the Holy Spirit brought this passage to mind:
“I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So, then, neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” 1 Corinthians 3:6-7 (CSB)
As momma’s, we do our best to plant seeds and water them. We sing songs to our babies as we rock them to sleep so they know before they can speak that Jesus loves them. We tell our children stories about the goodness of Jesus as they grow from the toddler stage to preschool to encourage their hearts to love Him. (If you’re ambitious, you may even do some Bible-themed crafting with them. Notice I said “you” because this momma doesn’t do messes, so crafting was not my jam). We read them Bible stories and share our favorite Scriptures with them as they grow up. We pray with them at night and take them to church on Sundays. When they become teenagers, we remind them of who they are in Christ, encourage them to develop their own relationship with Him, and pray, pray, pray!
We plant lots of seeds along the way, and we water as we go. We don’t always do it right, but we do our best. But, what if that’s not enough?
Sweet friend, let me release you from the mom-guilt you may be experiencing as you read—your love and gardening abilities are limited. But if you truly know the Lord, take heart and take your guilt and worries to Him. Don’t stop doing what you’re doing; absolutely, keep pressing into and praying over your kids! Even when they’re full-grown adults, continue to plant and water. But, keep this in mind, the love you feel for your children? It pales in comparison to the love their Heavenly Father feels for them.
God tells us to plant seeds in the hearts of our children and to continue to water those seeds throughout their lifetimes. But He also makes it very clear that He alone is the One who can make those seeds grow into strong, healthy fruit.
So, tell the enemy you don’t have time for guilt, and instead cling to the promise and knowledge that the God you adore is in control and He desires a relationship with your kids more than you can imagine. So much so that He did the unthinkable and sent His only Son to save them. He did that for your babies! Momma, God is good. If He made the ultimate sacrifice, we can trust Him to produce fruit in our children’s lives.
Again, that doesn’t mean we stop planting and watering. Instead, it means we can stop stressing and start trusting by turning our focus to the God who formed those babies in our wombs.
Hebrews 12:1 tells us to run our race with endurance, and parenting is definitely a race God has given us to run. The very next verse tells us we do that by “keeping our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2 CSB). Running a race well and finishing strong requires that we focus on the prize, which is Christ Jesus!
As parents, the best way to practice that is to pray for our kids daily, confess our fears and guilt to the Lord, and ask Him to produce fruit in their lives. We must never stop praying for our kids. As momma’s, I’m pretty sure praying for our kiddos is also one of the most natural things we do. Generations of prayer warriors before me made it clear that they never stopped praying for their children until they left this earth.
The next time you see a post on social media or hear something that threatens to fill you with guilt over your failures, take a breath, remember the One who makes fruit grow, and talk to Him about your concerns. You can trust Him. After all, the love He feels for your kids is the love He feels for you.
Eyes on Jesus, sweet friend. Wait until you see the fruit the seeds you planted are going to yield!
Chrissie Angell is the Executive Director and a Co-founder of Humble Faith Ministries. She is a speaker, writer, and Bible teacher who is passionate about pointing women to Jesus and helping them live out their Kingdom assignments. She and her husband Brian live in Kentucky with their two boys and their yellow lab, Charger.