Noelle Kirchner, M.Div., is a Presbyterian minister and mother of two boys. As they wrestle on the floor, she enjoys wrestling with her manuscripts. She writes for Huff Post Parents, the TODAY Show Parenting Team, and has been a repeat guest author at in(courage). You can find her on her blog, where she writes about faith and parenting, and on Twitter and Facebook.
Devotion 3 in the Summer Series "A Prayer for Armor"
We began our summer devotional series two weeks ago with A Prayer for Armor. The prayer is based on Ephesians 6:14-18. Last week we explored the belt of truth, and this week we are exploring the breastplate of righteousness. How might it function in relation to Moms? Recall this excerpt from our prayer reprinted in bold:
May we know that our best is good enough as moms. We believe that you are big enough to use even our mistakes for your glory. Thank you for our successes, and we ask your forgiveness for the ways that we have fallen short. Help us to rest in the promise that your love claims us all - no matter what.
No one is perfect. We know that we can all fall short. We can fall short of our own expectations. We can fall short of others' expectations of us that might plague our heads. And we can fall short of scriptures' instruction in ways that are noticeable and ways that weigh secretly on our hearts.
Falling short isn't any fun, especially when we are in the business of shaping the moral fiber of our children. They look to us for guidance. We break up sibling squabbles, model good sharing at playtime, attempt to instill good table manners over food graveyards on the floor, and oftentimes are the first to tell them about God and the importance of living honorably.
But the reality is that our little students probably learn more from how they see us acting than what we teach them. And (sigh)...Sometimes we are tired and compromise our best. Sometimes we are impatient as the tasks at hand mount up. Sometimes we can vent by slamming doors, yelling in front of our children, or using our words to tear down instead of lift up in a fit of frustration or pain.
I find myself continually drawn to a beautiful verse in Proverbs when I need encouragement for the high road. "The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down" (14:1, NIV). Our sin can creep its way in and attempt to destroy the very thing we are working so hard to try to build up.
Enter the breastplate of righteousness. The breastplate of righteousness is such a valuable piece of our armor, Moms! Every good effort that we make in instilling that which is pleasing to God in our children is sweet incense to him. And every time that we do not live up to our best, we can confess it and be wiped clean. Christ takes us by the hand and promises that sin will not have the last word.
The beauty of our faith is that we can claim strength exactly where we are most broken. Just as God made us, God has the power to remake us. To give us hope. To turn our hearts away from bad choices. And to weave beauty and reconciliation out of ashes. And do you know what? Our breastplate of righteousness is strong - it is a shield, a promise that surrounds us, no matter what.
The best way to teach our children righteousness is to model it ourselves. We can petition the Holy Spirit for the strength to journey the high road: walking a path of present sacrifice for long term rewards, like building up our houses and contributing to a positive self image. But our effort should also include modeling real apologies and true forgiveness to our children, just as our Savior does for us...And that can be where the real magic happens.
To pray, you are invited back to the full prayer from week one by clicking here: A Prayer for Armor.