If only . . .

I remember telling my dad, “My prayer is to never have to say, ‘If only . . .’ when it comes to parenting.” I’ve been parenting my children for a little over 13 years now. I’ve had to say, “If only,” more times than I’d like to admit.

One such time was last summer when I backed into my 10-year-old son with our van. “If only I had checked.” “If only I wasn’t in a hurry.” “If only . . .”

By the grace of God, my son was fine. The fact that he had known I was leaving shortly after I dropped him off didn’t get in the way of his desire to play with his Legos, in the sunshine, in the driveway, behind the van. When I backed up, I felt the resistance and stopped. It was like a slow motion movie scene as I rushed to the back of the van to first see scattered Legos and then see my son.

When I saw him, I screamed, “I’m sorry! I’m sorry! I am so, so sorry!” He was crying too. I looked him over and over. His legs were scraped up pretty badly, however he could stand and nothing looked broken. He then began apologizing to me. He knew he had made a bad choice. But I knew I was supposed to be responsible. I was the mom. I had just hit my son with the van! What mom hits her son with a VAN?!?!

This mom. This mom had to call the doctor and explain to the receptionist that she needed to bring her son in because she hit him with the van. This mom had to call her husband and tell him that she hit his son with the van. This mom had to explain to the nurse, the doctor, and the X-ray technician that she hit her son with the van. This mom had to explain that she hit her son with the van to friends, family, and curious/nosey people who could see the bad scrapes, scratches, and bruises on his legs.

That day I had made an obvious mistake in my parenting. But I had made a not-so-obvious mistake as well. Up until that day, I had put much of my value in my own parenting. I had felt like I was a pretty good parent. Because of that, I had put my self-value, my self-worth into my being a good parent, until I did something characteristic of a bad parent. Then what? I was crushed. In my mind I had lost a big part of my self-worth. But what if I had put my value in being a beloved daughter of the almighty God?

Being a dearly loved daughter who had made a horrible mistake—who could crawl in the lap of her Creator and ask for comfort and forgiveness—changes everything. The same is true for every Christian parent. Our value isn’t in our own parenting skills, but in the God who gifted us with children and loved us enough to forgive our failings. If we find value in who we are as dearly loved children of God, we never have to be good enough. We are enough because God made us so.