My dh and I are taking a video course at church covering the material in the book Grace-Based Parenting. In the book, Tim Kimmel encourages us to show the same grace to our children that God shows to us. He explains what our children really need from us and what it looks like to show grace through our parenting. As I’ve been thinking over my recent readings in the book, I’ve realized that I’ve had a perfect opportunity to show grace in my own home.
Last fall I had a baby, baby number four. At least two of the other three kids had sensitivities to foods I ate while nursing, but this baby had severe reactions to almost everything I ate. In order to allow him to sleep at all, rather than screaming while doubled-up in pain, I had to restrict my diet to chicken, rice, beef, pasta, and cheerios, more or less. All seasonings had to go. All dairy and soy had to go. It’s certainly been a struggle for me to nurse a baby and handle my other responsibilities while not being able to eat normally, and it was especially difficult during the Thanksgiving/Christmas season. But I’ve felt blessed that I’ve been able to resolve a source of extreme discomfort for my child.
Interestingly, I’ve had a couple of people express amazement that I would go to this length for my baby. One even told me (and she has two small children) that she would just put him in his room and let him cry rather than adjust her diet so drastically! Somehow, the thought of eating normally and just allowing him to suffer never occurred to me. I think I did that somewhat with baby number three, but that was because I didn’t know my eating was causing his distress. This time I had a wise advisor who helped me find the right foods to eliminate.
This situation has reminded me of the parable of the unforgiving servant. God shows me grace in many ways, not least of which is the fact that even though I was completely helpless and completely unloving and unlovable, He went to the extreme length of sending His Son to go through terrible agony for me. How could I fail to show a small measure of grace to my own child by enduring a much smaller discomfort on his behalf? (A friend pointed out that, although I felt very deprived, I am still able to eat more variety and certainly much more quantity than many if not most of the world’s inhabitants.)
I don’t know when I’ll be able to return to an unrestricted diet. But for now, every time I eat I’m reminded of the grace that has been given to me.