Experiencing the truth and power of God has the uncanny effect of conforming us to His character. I’d even venture to say that the shortcomings we feel as parents and any area where we know we need to grow, can be traced to a place where we must experience God more fully and more often.

For example, how does experiencing God’s deep, unwavering love affect us? What happens to our hearts when we feel His love collide violently with our sin—when he takes our punishment for himself, erases our shame, and calls us His own children? What happens to us then? We are profoundly changed, and one way that plays out is we have a new, patient love for others.

But we should be aware of the flip side… If we are unable to show or feel love toward others, have we truly experienced God’s love? If we are unable to show love to our children when they’re unloveable, have we experienced God’s love in full light of our sin? Have we been transformed by it? Something to think about.

Ann Voskamp writes, “The moment when I am most repelled by a child’s behavior, that is my sign to draw the very closest to that child.” What a beautiful reminder of Jesus’ parable about the lost sheep:

Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ (Luke 15:3–6)

When we pursue our children in their toughest moments, we are reflecting God’s love in Christ.

The same may be said about God’s other attributes: his mercy, his justice, his grace, his forgiveness, and every aspect of his character. We must experience God if we ever hope to ever accurately reflect who He is.

"The moment when I am most repelled by a child's behavior, that is my sign to draw the very closest to that child."

— Ann Voskamp

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Fix yourself Fix your eyes

As parents, when we feel inadequate it’s easy to want to fix ourselves through reading the best books or implementing the best practices. Those things aren’t bad, but they also aren’t transformative. We cannot parent God’s way through mastery of worldly wisdom alone. We must be transformed.

The only way we can be transformed into the parents God is calling us to become is to know and experience the kind of parent He already is.

Psalm 42:6–7 reads,

“Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your waves have gone over me. By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.” God is commanding his steadfast love in ways we’ll never comprehend, but we can still be washed away by Him.

So, fierce fathers and mothers, go to God and be washed away in His torrent of grace and love. Experience Him through His Word and through prayer.

Then, as you see, instruct, and love your children, may you clearly and consistently reflect the character of the God who entrusted them into your care.