I’m not God. I know you’re not surprised – I’m certainly not. It may seem glaringly obvious, but it needs to be restated. Do you need to remind yourself that you aren’t God either? You might have to, especially if you would describe yourself as an over-achieving, have a picture in your mind of what success looks like and can feel uneasy or guilty or unsure of your decisions pretty easily kind of person. It can’t be overstated – neither of us are God.
What does it mean “I’m not God”? In a recent blog article, I wrote about how contemplating the “presence” of God in light of how He describes Himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit helps the parents of newborns keep in mind that what they are doing is more than changing diapers – they are building a foundation of faith. They are beginning the process of discipling their children. Establishing security and trust with their child, whether they are happy with a toothless grin or screaming at the top of their lungs at 2am, begins when the parent shows up. They are present – available – consistently.
But this is where the original idea of “I’m not God” comes in. I can’t possibly be present every time my child wants me, especially not in a calm, patient, and joyful way. This common complaint was expressed well during a New Mom’s group I once lead when one precious participant said, “I sometimes come to the end of my rope – I resent not getting a good night’s sleep, and I’m so tired that patience is almost impossible. I cry and I have a hard time stopping.” Yep – been there and done that. I get it.
So, how do we put together the importance of being like God as we are called to be (Mt. 5:48), especially as parents, and yet, be fully aware that we are not like Him in so many ways – as we are radically limited and imperfect? How do I keep the person of God as my template and standard with my imperfect limitations in mind? I will never be the parent I know I should be.
The conundrum and the dangers can be seen as this:
- God’s Standard – if I only think of God’s character and standard without my limitations, I am tempted to lower the standard of perfection
- My Limitations – if I only think of my failures and sin, I am tempted to wallow in a slough of despondency
What is the answer? Look to a third option.
- God’s Standard with My Limitations – if I think of both, I know I am to look to God for who I am to be and yet I know, because He is a God of grace and mercy, He will forgive me when I sin, give me grace when I fail and I am always filled with His Spirit and thus, I can often do and be what I never thought I would be able to do or be
Parenting from day one brings us to the end of ourselves – we realize we “are not God”. I redefine my limitations, there are so many more than I thought, and yet, I also tap into unearthed depths of strength and love. At times, I keep going even when I don’t think I can. And when I reach the end of that proverbial rope, I get to realize that God is at the end. Reminding myself of Scripture such as Psalm 73:26, My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever, helps keep both truths held in suspension: God is perfect; I am not. And then, as I think of who He is as my Heavenly Father, my Kind Savior, and the Spirit who fills my life, I know it’s going to be OK.
Dear Reader, what Scriptures will help you keep both God’s character and your limitations in mind? Focusing on one more than the other will get us into trouble every time. Just as getting rid of one and/or the other is also a problem. We need to do “both/and” thinking and allow God to speak to us through His word to handle the balance of the two.
Keep your mind on things above (Colossians 3:2)! Blessings to you – fondly yours, Elizabeth