“I’m scared, Mom.”

I saw the text message on my phone. It was 11:30 p.m. and my daughter was away on a school trip in Florida. 

We had just gotten a late-night phone call from a foster care worker asking if we could take in a sweet little 7-month-old boy who had medical complexities and needed to be placed in a foster home that night.

After discussion and prayer, my husband and I felt a strong sense that we were supposed to step out in faith and say yes. So we did… even though we had zero experience with Down Syndrome, cleft lip/palate, or how to feed a baby through a g-tube.

I read the rest of the text from my daughter. She was sharing honestly that she felt overwhelmed by how hard it might be—  caring for this tiny boy who had so many medical issues. She was worried that all of the doctor’s appointments, potential surgeries, and therapies ahead might be too much to take on— especially since we already have a baby of our own.

“I’m scared, too.”

Four years ago, in my quest to make sure my kids made good choices and my reputation as a good parent stayed intact, I would have shut down my daughter’s heartfelt words. I probably would have quickly typed out a long text about how she just needed to trust God and be brave.

Now, hear me: yes, trusting God is a good thing. Learning to face fears is a good thing. But in this moment— when my teenage daughter had trusted me with her honest fears— she didn’t need a sermon from me. She needed to know that she was heard and that I cared deeply about her. She needed my love— not a lecture.

I picked up my phone and typed the truest words I knew to say to her: “I’m scared, too.”

“Can you trust God with me?”

Because I was. The doorbell was about to ring and the DCS worker would be standing there with a little boy who needed a lot of care and love and nurturing. If I played out all of the unknowns of what saying yes to him might mean, it felt overwhelming to me.

I continued the text message to my daughter: “But both Dad and I feel strongly that God has called us to say yes. So we are going to trust God to help us one day at a time. I don’t know what five years from now holds, but I’m not going to worry about that. I’m just going to trust God for today. Can you do that with me?”

We texted back and forth for a few more minutes and by the end of the conversation, I sensed the heaviness and fear had lifted. My girl felt seen. She felt heard. She knew that she wasn’t alone. That we were in this together— trusting God together in spite of our fears.

She knew that she wasn't alone. That we were in this together— trusting God together in spite of our fears.

Imperfect parents (and imperfect kids) need Jesus

I want to teach my kids more than how to modify their behavior. I want to show them how desperately we both need Jesus— and that starts with honesty and vulnerability.

Christ’s finished work on the cross frees us from chasing applause, approval, or acceptance from others. We no longer need to be perfect— we don’t need to manage our reputations. If we were perfect parents, we wouldn’t need Jesus. The whole reason He came to earth and died for us was because we aren’t able to achieve perfection (Colossians 2:13–14). 

When we’re honest and vulnerable with our kids, we have the unique opportunity to meet them exactly where they are. We can say, “I’m scared, too.” We can give them a front-row seat to what it looks like to really trust God— and invite them to trust Him with us. We’ll never do everything right— and that’s not the goal. Our kids need parents who are honest enough to admit their mistakes and imperfections— their need for Jesus.

Each and every minute of each and every day

I want to show my kids that my relationship with God is not a Sunday-morning thing but an hour-by-hour thing. I need Jesus each and every minute of each and every day— and I’m learning that some of my greatest parenting happens on my knees, with open hands, entrusting my kids to their Creator.

Every day, I can ask Jesus for wisdom— ask Him to help me walk with my kids well— seek His direction for how to parent my kids in ways they feel most loved. When I don’t know the way, I can ask Him to give me clarity. I can plead with Him to fill in the parenting gaps that I know are there— many that I don’t see or recognize.

My kids don’t need a perfect parent who can preach persuasive sermons. They need a mom who loves, listens, and invites them to trust Jesus— together.