What do you do when you've lost your temper again with your 4 year old? What do you do when you realize that in the rush to get out the door you yelled at everyone, barking orders like a drill sergeant rather than a loving mama? What do you do when you hear yourself correct an erring child and realize that you are not speaking kindly but are fussing and threatening?
Around Easter, I remember hearing a news story somewhere in the blogosphere about churches that did not teach about the resurrection in their young children's Sunday school classes on Easter morning. It had been decided that the crucifixion was too gruesome for children, and it didn't make sense to tell about Jesus rising from the dead if you hadn't taught about him dying.
What!? There is no other hope for me to give to my children to face sin and pain unless I tell them about what Jesus did on the cross. And there is no hope for me either.
Certainly, the crucifixion is gruesome and one can spare small children all of the details. But, sin is gruesome too and I have nothing else to tell them except that Jesus died in their place to pay for the sins that they commit so that they can be right before a holy, just, and loving God. Simply telling them, "well, do better next time" or "at least you are not too bad" leaves them with an unbearable weight on their little shoulders.
They need the same message that I need. That I don't have to bear the weight of my sin because Christ has "satisfied God's justice by his suffering and death in the place of sinners" (as we have been learning in the catechism). They need to know that I need God's grace and mercy through Christ too as I repent of my sin.
So as my own anger and impatience is displayed again to my children, I tell them again of the cross. I repent to them and to God and remind us all about how much we need Christ's work on our behalf.
My message to my children is not "do better" because I can't do better. I need Jesus. And they know that. They see it every day.
May God use even my sins to point my children to the grace and forgiveness that is offered for all who trust in Christ for salvation. And may He grow me more and more into the image of Christ as I daily seek to follow Him.