By Todd Hill
Just last month, I ran into a young, 20-something cashier at the local Subway. After a brief discussion, he told me that I was actually his P.E. teacher at a local summer school about 15 years ago. We reminisced about some of the activities we did in the class – me thinking fondly of a 15-year-younger Todd! As I was leaving, he said, “ I remember what you used to say to us: ‘Practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect!’” Yep! That was a motto that had been passed on to me, and one that I often passed on to my students!
Well 15 years, quite a few pounds, and many gray hairs later, I would still offer that advice to students who I teach or coach – in basketball, soccer, or any other sport or pursuit that requires precise execution. However, I find myself in a new stage of life right now. I find myself as a parent of a 12- and 14-year-old, and I am discovering that I might just be trying to force my motto into this complex new role.
You see, I have discovered what every other parent who has gone before me has discovered. This parenting gig is not for the faint of heart! Rarely does a day go by where the biggest challenge I face isn’t navigating all of the interaction between my children and myself. I have learned first-hand the gap that my sister spoke of when she said, “Our children were designed to have perfect parents and we were designed to have perfect children – and frankly we find ourselves continuously disappointed!”
God has graciously begun showing me my heart during these challenging times. One of the things that He is teaching me is how I have been trying desperately to force my old coaching motto onto my role as a parent. I find my heart saying, “Parenting doesn’t produce perfect children. Perfect parenting produces perfect children!” Though I no longer wear a whistle around my neck, my quest for perfection remains! Unfortunately, this noble quest falls drastically short of the Gospel!
One of the main things God has shown me is that my desire for my children to turn out to be a Godly young man and woman has actually become an idol to me. Is this desire appropriate? Of course! However, when I find myself striving and stressing over implementing a perfect parenting regime so that I can ensure that my children will turn out perfect, something in my heart is not right.
I am a very slow learner in the lesson that God’s power is made perfect in my weakness! A message I seem to experience most in my role as a parent! I am grateful that He keeps showing me that the only perfection in my relationship with my children comes from a perfect Heavenly Father and His perfect Son who continually redeem an imperfect family.