I met Jeannie Cunnion online earlier this year, when our debut books hit bookstores within weeks of each other. We clicked immediately, sharing a common passion for God’s Word and His unrelenting grace. Jeannie wrote a beautiful book called Parenting the Wholehearted Child.
In her book, she reminds us: “Your kids aren’t perfect. And you don’t have to be either.” It’s an incredibly important message of grace and “preapproval” for parents who are trying hard to do their best.
Kathie Lee Gifford said of Jeannie’s book: “Rarely do I ever find myself agreeing with everything I read in a book. But Parenting the Wholehearted Child is the book I wish I’d written. Jeannie has given parents a profound gift within its pages.”
Welcome, Jeannie, to the blog.
The Farce of “Perfect” Parenting
By Jeannie Cunnion
It’s finally quiet. All three boys are tucked into bed, breathing in deeply the rest their bodies crave. I give them each one more kiss before I walk slowly down our old wooden stairs.
My body is tired, my spirit is worn.
I barely make it to the couch before the tears begin to fall. Shame curls up beside me and whispers all my parenting failures – “You looked at your iPhone more than you looked in their eyes, you yelled because your three-year-old was—gasp—acting like a three-year-old, and you hurried them along instead of stopping to enjoy the wonder that is childhood.”
I’m sinking deeper into despair when I hear the front door open. It’s my husband. I know what he’ll do when he sees me. This isn’t an unusual scenario, after all. He curls up beside me, on the other side of shame, and whispers, “You’re an amazing mom. Those boys know you love them. Stop trying so hard.”But I can’t hear him. I mean, I hear him but I can’t receive his words. I determine to do better tomorrow, and I head to bed.
But tomorrow always ended up looking a lot like today.
The pressure to be a perfect parent raising perfect kids who love a perfect God had made its home in my heart.
Grace was lost on me.
And ultimately I did what every striving-for-perfection parent does. I crashed.
Fresh out of tips and steps for getting it all right so my kids would turn out all right, I did the only thing left to do. I began to confess my weaknesses with unclenched fists and heart split open. “I’ve tried to make you proud, Lord. I’ve done everything I know to do to raise kids who make you proud, but I can’t pull it off. I just can’t try this hard anymore.”
This surrender, which didn’t happen overnight, allowed my heart to finally find the rest it craved in the healing truth of 2 Corinthians 12:9: “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.”
Oh the joy that filled my soul. Now I knew, I can stop striving for the perfection that is already mine in Christ Jesus. “Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to thy cross I cling.” Grace has set me free.
All mine. All yours.
Not because of anything we do or don’t do but because of everything Jesus has already done for us.
The burden, the angst, the striving—exchanged for joy, for hope, for peace. All extraordinary gifts given when our hearts surrender to his grace.
Of course, I still stumble and fall in this beautiful thing called motherhood. I daily echo the words of Paul in Romans 7:21, “I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong.” But now I don’t cling to the guilt and shame. Instead, I confess it out loud and give wild thanks for Jesus. Revelation of my sin leads me to revel in God’s grace.
And what I’m learning, what God is teaching me on a daily basis, is that until we accept His unrestricted love and absolute acceptance of us, we will struggle in vain to let it flow through us to our kids. But when His grace begins to transform our hearts, it also begins to transform our parenting. It’s not about what we do. It’s about what His grace does through us when we surrender to his wholehearted acceptance of us.
This is the good news we can rest in!
Jeannie Cunnion is the author of Parenting the Wholehearted Child. Her book is for anyone who wants to experience what happens when parents and children alike learn to live from the freedom found in being
wholeheartedly loved (and liked!) by God. Jeannie has a Master’s degree in Social Work, and her background combines counseling, writing, and speaking about parenting and adoption issues for organizations such as Bethany Christian Services and the National Council for Adoption. Jeannie also serves as the Council Co-Chairman at Trinity Church in Greenwich, CT, where she enjoys leading various parenting courses and Bible studies when she isn’t cheering on her boys at one of their sporting events! She would love to connect with you on Twitter
, Facebook, Instagram
I am delighted to offer a copy of Parenting the Wholehearted Child to one blessed winner. Easy entry, using the Rafflecopter below. Winner will be selected randomly, and will be notified by email.
Enter to win. Giveaway ends Friday at noon.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Head over to Jeannie’s blog today, where she’s giving away a copy of Love Idol.
So, what’s your Story?
A #TellHisStory is any story that connects your story into the story of God.
You’re invited to tell that story right here, in community with us.
Share your narratives, your poems, your Instagrams tagged with #TellHisStory, … your beautiful hearts. You are the chroniclers, the people who help others make sense of the world with your words and your art.
Story is how we know that, no matter what happens, we can get back up again.
Visit someone (or two) in the link-up to encourage with a comment. Then, Tweet about your posts, and the posts you visit, with the #TellHisStory hashtag. Come back on Friday to visit our Featured #TellHisStory, in the sidebar.
A final note: This is a safe place to tell your stories. You don’t have to be a professional writer to join us. Story is built into every single one of us. Your story matters, because it’s part of God’s story down through history, not because you punctuated everything correctly. Deal?
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