She regularly ate dinner at our family’s table. We spent hours talking deep over cups of coffee. As our church receptionist, she often fielded complaints from church members. On occasion she would tell me how she’d defended my husband and me when someone criticized our parenting. Though not surprising, it always stung a bit when people didn’t believe in us. I was always grateful that someone would stand up for us.
Parenting approaches used by SAFE parents are often confusing to the on-looker. Few people understand that parenting children from difficult beginnings is a different animal altogether. We are frequently misjudged.
Too strict. Too lenient. Inadequate. Too cold. Too distracted. Too overbearing. Too uninvolved in other church activities. And all these evaluations are based on what is seen a few hours a week in an environment outside our homes. You know, that place where our kids put on an act that in no way resembles what they’re like when no one else is looking.
Such censorship doesn’t happen just at church either. School personnel, neighbors, coaches, police officers, and counselors, see a side of our children we rarely see, and come to conclusions that are far from accurate.
When each of our kids had broken their last straw, and we told them it was time for them to move out, they all went to live with some of these know-better families. It didn’t take long—I think four months at the most—for these families to also send our kids on their way.
Though I finally felt vindicated, it still made me sad. I was sorry these families had to endure the unpleasantness of a child who doesn’t know how to integrate. But I was also sad they had to experience the dark side of my child. I wanted my kids surrounded by people who believed in them and encouraged them in life. The people that took my kids in were such people. Unfortunately, their true supportive efforts fell as flat as ours had.
No, vindication in the sight of those who had misjudged us, didn’t make me feel better. It was just another painful reminder of the brokenness my children walked in.
But one day I came across Isaiah 54:7 (NASB).
No weapon that is formed against you will prosper; And every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, And their vindication is from Me,” declares the Lord.
It’s not that I found joy in seeing my misjudgers as an enemy. And I had no desire to condemn the know-betters. But I found great comfort in knowing that my vindication was in the Lord.
You see this whole approval-by-others thing was one of the hardest things I struggled with.
Ouch! But, it is!
When I learned to seek approval only in God’s eyes, I was free from having to explain myself. It didn’t matter what my friend said in my defense (though I still appreciated it). I could trust my vindication to the Lord.
Frankly, I still struggle with this. Even though my children no longer live at home, even though they have grown tremendously as young adults, and even though we have warm and loving relationships with each of them, there are still times we have to draw some hard lines. And now there are daughters-in-law and sons-in-law and their parents who haven’t traveled our road and learned to trust our decisions. We are still misjudged. I still struggle with it. But, I don’t struggle as long or as deep.
It’s been a hard lesson to learn and one I have to re-learn again and again. The plight of my vindication is in the hands of God alone. And He is completely trustworthy. His approval is the only one that matters. And you know what? It’s as unshakable as our Rock is.
God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea.
Psalm 46:1-2 (NKJV)
He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be greatly moved.
Psalm 62:2 (NKJV)
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? … For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:31-39 (NKJV)