Finding Freedom as a Grace Based Mom Part 2 – Jeannie Cunnion

parenting isn’t about God relying on me
parenting is about me relying on God to get it all right to be sovereign who he
says he is despite all of my mistakes welcome to the focus on the family
broadcast helping families thrive Jeannie welcome back to focus I’ve got
some energy people can hear it in my voice because this topic is so critical
and my heart aches for the moms that have that burden that I got to be
perfect my kids have to be perfect and they’d say no no it’s not that but the
evidence is the actions kind of show that it is that and that is such a hard
burden to carry it’s impossible it’s not about perfection it’s about drawing
closer to God make that distinction well I think the number one pressure that
moms feel this myth that we go into parenting with is that parenting is
about God relying on me to get it all right
that’s big that’s what I carried into parent he’s relying on me to get it all
right he isn’t trusted these kids to me and he’s relying on me to not mess this
up I think that’s the burden that a lot of moms and dads carry okay but let me
say that’s not all bad is it I mean is there an element that there is some
reliance that you are the parent and there’s lots of scriptures that talk
about parenting and what you should do so is it all badder burden and a
heaviness in that that steals the joy and the Wonder from your parenting
because parenting isn’t about God relying on me parenting is about me
relying on God to get it all right to be sovereign who he says he is despite all
of my mistakes so yes we are so significant in our kids lives
motherhood is and fatherhood is such a high and beautiful calling it is a
privilege we are so significant what we say and do matters our words can hurt or
they can heal they can build up or they can tear down but this has changed my
life yeah I am significant but God is sovereign that is it’s changed my
parenting literally I am say sniffing tin my kids lives but God is
sovereign over their lives he is their all-knowing all-powerful father he is
not me so I can trust him with the kids he’s
entrusted to me and if I can keep going back and remembering that God is
sovereign he knows what he is doing and I did to partner with him but I do not
have to play his role Jimmy I want to get to where we left off yesterday this
is a hard and tender part of your story yes but you were raised in a Christian
home you know I just kid preacher’s kid a good girl I could see in you that you
tried to do everything well even though I’m sure like every human being you had
you’re messed up your areas and then that’s fine
but you came out of that good Christian family which was pretty ideal but then
something happened I want if you’re willing to talk about that because it
ties so closely into the ethos of this how come you were more perfectionistic
and less grace based but speak to your marriage and what happened
yeah what’s raised and the funny thing is my parents are still married so I I
added that pressure which is I had this beautiful model of marriage to follow
one that was about forgiveness and and fighting hard for marriage you know you
stick it out you you you may don’t give up yeah you don’t give up with God all
things are possible but in my early 20s I found myself in a marriage in which I
had no peace entering and so I take full accountability you had the gut check
even before I had the gut check but I believed I think is a lot of young 20s
believe that I can change this I can make it better you were in love I was in
love or I thought I was in love and I was going to help him even grow in his
relationship with God through the marriage that once we got married I
could change some things it would get better it’s hard not to laugh as I say
that because it’s mixed with a lot of grief yeah but it was only at the
marriage only lasted 11 months and it was over before I it started and I talk
about that in the book a little bit the moral of the story really the point of
sharing that in the is that I walked out of that divorce so
covered in shame and embarrassment because what I at that point thought was
I have utterly let God down he has no use for my life anymore
I am a divorced early twenties woman and now my testimony holds no value what can
I do how can the Lord use me now that I had a broken marriage that we were in
marriage counseling every single week for those 11 months and some things
cannot be saved and I say that with a lot of sadness because I believe in
marriage and I wanted to be married once and only once and and so that was a very
hard hard thing to walk through because the shame was so profound I was so
shattered by that experience right and some are going to jump to conclusions
what happened you had biblical grounds for the divorce I used to take that out
of the you know out of the hands of the critics who might say well you should
have stayed married yeah but there are certain biblical boundaries there and
and that happened in your case but speak to the follow-on I mean you’re coming
out of this again this idyllic home and you’ve fallen to this marriage that
doesn’t work you’re the preacher’s daughter mm-hmm what about that shame
that you felt at that time I mean the the boatloads of the truckloads whatever
however you want to define it what did that feel like it felt hopeless I mean
again it just felt like how can the Lord use me now he must be so disappointed in
me I felt like and this is so not what I was raised to believe are taught it so
not what we read in Scripture but the enemy was relentless with me just
covering me in shame how could you who does something like
that and so I carried that shame with me for years when I ultimately met my
husband now Mike we’ve been married for 15 years and just the greatest gift
God’s ever given me and then we began to build our family pretty soon after we
married and you have three boys at this time we had three boys in five years and
then had a fourth boy seven years later but why I tell this story in the book is
because the shame I carried into my marriage with Mike then I carried into
my parenting with my kids mm-hmm and so I was still living out of this place of
thinking that I had to earn back God’s love and favor that I had to make him
proud of me again that the righteousness of Jesus Christ that never stopped
covering me had always been there and that all along I couldn’t see it then
but I can see it now the grace that covered me Jesus was saying to me
Jeannie I loved you then and I love you now and I’m not done with you yet and
although your sin grieves me it breaks my heart I I love you and I welcome you
at your worst I mean scripture says he welcomes us at our worst in our darkest
how long a process was that and what was the recovery like I mean you don’t wake
up a week after divorce court saying okay god I got it how long did that
process it was about ten years ten years it was in ten years that I and it was a
beautiful unfolding intimate moments with Jesus in the word where I started
to it was like he was highlighting passages in Scripture for the first time
that I’d read all along Romans 8:1 there is no condemnation for those who are in
Jesus Christ not a little there is none and then you go on to one of my favorite
verses which is Romans 8:38 where it’s eight thirty eight through eight 39 and
the message translation talks the message paraphrase writes it so that it
says absolutely nothing can get between you and God’s love because of the way
that Jesus has embraced you but what I did and what I think a lot of moms do is
I put a but in that sentence absolutely nothing but yeah can separate you from
God’s love for me it was divorce for somebody else it’s addiction or adultery
or an abortion or any other thing that we carry that we
believe makes us unlovable and unworthy of God’s welcome and affection okay so a
mom is hearing you say all these things and maybe they’ve gone through something
similar may be different but they feel the same way that you know God’s grace
is not sufficient for me yes because God knows what has happened to me you don’t
and it’s too big a sin for God to cover me I mean it’s pretty arrogant in some
ways to say it that way if you think about it but it’s true yes
you know God through Jesus can cover everybody else’s big sins but mine will
mine are too deep and too big yes speak to that woman right now in terms of how
to grab the first rung of the ladder out of that pit that she’s listening you
know the Lord has you listening now for open your ears yeah I like that open
your ears and know arson is great His grace is greater it is so much greater
and the invitation is to receive that grace and know that Jesus says you are
clean you are free you are covered in the righteousness of Christ so one
critical thing is they need to be in the word in the word read the word
especially those scriptures that are talking about God’s love go read Romans
8 where it talks about absolutely nothing can separate you from the love
of God and then confess to him those things that you believe have separated
you or are separating you and ask him to open the eyes of your heart to see you
the way he sees you which is literally covered in the goodness of his son yeah
it’s so true it’s so hard to believe in except because it’s not it’s so it’s not
it doesn’t seem fair yeah we should have to work to get that back mm-hmm I
appreciate the way you put that and I’d like to just suggest if you don’t have a
Bible contact as we can send you one but we really do believe getting into the
scripture is a key part of grabbing on to the grace of God and letting go of
all the rules and performance aspects of life and our number if you want to talk
to a counselor if you want to request Jeannie’s book get a CD or download of
our conversation is 800 the letter in the word family or online where it
focused on the family comm / broadcast genie I want to turn a little bit to
specific issues that some might be facing there’s other challenges that
moms face where their children are suffering in some way from rejection
that’s a mistake they made or simply because life is hard you know that’s not
going the way the teenager wants it to go maybe they’re not as popular as other
kids are whatever it might be you describe a time when one of your boys
was suffering from rejection and how that broke your heart so in this formula
of grace and pursuing God in Romans 8:28 that all things work for good to those
who love the Lord and are called by his name that’s a tough way to parent too
because your children somewhere will suffer in some way yes and there is a
benefit to suffering so tie that all up for me that’s a big one you know I think
when we think about that passage you know God works all things together for
good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose and the
most beautiful part of that I think is the next verse which talks about what is
the good to which he’s calling us and that is conformity to the likeness of
his son and so if we can if if I can as a mom remember that that the that the
hardships and the the sufferings that my kids go through that I walk through
alongside them that God is using them he can be trusted to use that to conform
them into the likeness of his son you know how contrary that sounds to our
culture I know winning but it’s the quarterback you’re on top it’s me versus
you it’s a zero-sum game and by the way I’ll pray for you as a Christian but
it’s still the same game yeah I mean it’s true we’re about being winners in
this culture well we have to get honest as parents out what is our greatest hope
for our kids right that’s a great question what is going back to what is
our greatest hope so what was that story where your son when your son’s between
we don’t need his name obviously but what was the suffering he was going
through what was your solution it was peer rejection meaningful deeply painful
peer rejection what age uh between okay and one of the
things that came out of that was a change in my prayer life because I kept
praying to the Lord Lord you know obviously I’m praying for relief so
where I could be praying lord uses to you know create perseverance because
perseverance creates character but as a mom I want to see my son relief from his
pain right even though I know everything that scripture teaches me about how God
will use that but I was praying for my son and I kept saying my son my son and
I felt the Holy Spirit prompt me to start praying for him as your son God
he’s your son I can surrender him back to you so I’m praying for my son but at
the end of the day God he belongs to you and you love him infinitely more than
even I do which is hard to fathom but help me trust you with the child you
have entrusted to me because he’s your son and so I started to pray for all of
my boys that way particularly in hardship Lord help your son in this
painful experience or help your son as he struggles with sin and temptation God
would you help your son equip him with the power of your word to fight against
sin and temptation don’t you think Jeanine that a lot of
moms would despite what you just said want to get in there and fix this you
know talk to the other parents and I want to bring some of this yeah I mean
we’re good at problem-solving but we do our best parenting through prayer huh
what our kids need for us to be more than problem solvers is prayer warriors
our kids need us to be a prayer warriors because God can do immeasurably more
that we could ever ask or imagine as hard as we are gonna try you know he can
really he can blow us away yes you know if I can remember one of
the really fun things that came out of writing from this book for me was if I
can remember God’s sovereignty and his faithfulness and His goodness if I can
really hold on to that then I stopped wanting to write my son’s story and I
become grateful that God never gave me the pen honestly because I’m trying to
write his story as if
I really know what’s best for him as I get as if I can see the endgame so it’s
not very it’s not like something you can hold on to but honestly if I can keep
remembering God is sovereign he is faithful he is good then it helps me
unclench my fists that are trying to control outcomes because that’s what I
do and I can surrender the outcome to God because if surrender I we tend to
think of surrender is like giving up and it’s not right like like just saying
alright I surrender them to you god I give up but it’s not giving up it’s
giving over so it’s this constant handing over of my boys back to God and
saying you write the best stories you’ve always proven to be trustworthy and I’m
gonna choose to trust you in these things that feel like I sure would like
to clench my fists and control the outcomes yes I want to get back to that
success issue because I think again our culture inculcates are good Christian
thinking if I could put it that way what what we can learn in suffering in losses
pretty much and it emphasizes success and often times you know our version of
success doesn’t line up with God’s plan of success what does success look like
to God and you’ve hit it but man it’s hard as a parent to decouple success as
a 4.3 valedictorian quarterback of the football team scholarship offer or
whatever it might be and of course goes to Bible study every week and you know
is the leader of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Club and all those
kinds of things those are good things they’re not bad things if you’ve
achieved those things right that’s good but it has to always be in context of
what God is teaching you are you humble about those things etc so when you’re
looking at success how do we learn to let go of those expectations the ungodly
expectations that we want the outcomes to be you know that there are all those
things not every kid can do that there’s only one spot to be the president of FCA
there’s only one role here and how do we manage that as a parent too if our kids
are just average if I could say it that way and to be okay with the fact that
God’s lifting them up in different ways not the way the culture
would applaud right I think to get okay with that we first have to get okay with
that in our own lives I think that’s always so often it comes back to that
and parenting how do i define success in my own life and what do i inc are my
worth in and if we’re anchoring our own success and our own value and our
accomplishments we’re gonna be putting that same kind of pressure on our kids
and so it’s that constant invitation from God to come back and say I am who
God says I am he created me for a purpose I’m gonna stay in my lane and
I’m gonna watch him be glorified in it I mean we have to keep asking ourselves
why what is God’s ultimate goal for my childhood and I love that know him and
to love others well that’s it that’s the follow-up are we parenting out of that
place or not yeah in your book mom set free you felt enormous pressure to help
your boys accept Jesus at an early age can we all laugh about that cuz yeah
every one of us as parents you know Okies three does he know the Lord should
we baptize him no all those questions in fact you described how all of your
character charts and jellybean jars we’re having the opposite effect that
you were hoping for tell us what happened you know I’m really glad you
you mention that because I think that’s one of the biggest pressures that
Christian moms carry the pressure to produce and the key word is produce a
thriving faith in our kids the ownership of that enormous and then the pressure
to produce righteous character in our kids lives it is I carried that burden I
really thought that again God was relying on me to produce those things in
my children’s lives and I believe wholeheartedly that is why the Lord
called me to write mom set free because he wanted to set me free from that
pressure kind of starts there does it starts there and there are so many
passive scriptures that that speak to you know God is the author and perfecter
of their faith he is the one that calls them to salvation and opens the eyes of
their hearts Jesus Christ is the one that produces righteous character in
their lives and so as we dig into these verses we find this new freedom to say
God can use me he can work through me I can plant seeds of faith but he’s the
one that produces the fruit what do you think is
difference between shepherding and controlling this may be the critical
question of the whole time together yeah I mean again it goes back to we can
train our child’s heart but God is the one who transforms it we do not have the
power to transform our child’s heart we are called to train them and the
righteousness and the love of Jesus Christ help me buddy he transforms it
yeah help me with a story differentiating those two if you have
one between shepherding and control give me an example of each one done well the
other one not so well what so going to the story in the book about you know the
jellybean jars and the character charts you know I bought into this idea that if
I if I put the character traits on the on the board the fridge and I list the
Bible verses underneath them that I will actually have the ability to produce
that in their lives if I just try hard enough if I just do the right things if
I just use the right words and sign them up for the right programs then I will
have the ability to actually produce these things in my kids lives and the
freedom there although we really don’t want that freedom because it would be
lovely to be able to produce that the freedom is to say I can I can lead you
in this I can I can lead you to scripture that talks about this I can
discipline you in love but God is the only one that’s going to change their
heart that’s the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives let me ask this as we are
nearing the end I’m thinking of the prodigal child the parents that have
really struggled yes and you’re touching on that only God can do that only God
can draw somebody to him only God can knock the scales from someone’s eyes if
they’re living in a way that is not honoring to him and his parents you know
we feel like failures yeah I know gene and I we had a situation once and I mean
it was my goodness we have done a horrible job here and you start
self-loathing and all the criticism it happens to every one of us and you have
to think that through as a couple pray about it and it’s painful it is painful
but I think especially for those parents who have a prodigal child who are really
killing themselves because there’s all kinds of rationales
for that we didn’t spend enough time with him or her we didn’t do the right
things we didn’t apply the right formula if we only would have done these things
differently they would have turned out loving God and knowing God what is that
balance there when you start talking about really leaving it and handing it
over to God that these children are gods and you have a twenty-something who may
be addicted to drugs or is far from the Lord in physical purity or whatever the
situation might be right what do you say yeah God has not finished with that
child yet but I do think this I think that there is a particular verse that
that the enemy does so well and twisting and using to create so much guilt and
shame in a Christian parents life and it’s proverbs 22:6 where it talks about
train your child up in the way they should go and when they are old they
will not depart from it and and we read that verse as a promise rather than a
rather than a proverb so if you read that as an if-then promise then you’re
thinking it’s all on me and if I do it all right they’ll turn out all right and
it’s all on me if I do it all wrong they’ll turn out all wrong because this
is an if-then promise but it’s not it’s a proverb which is wise instruction for
us to follow and so the invitation even in a verse like that is to say that as a
proverb and by God’s grace I will do all that I can to lead my children to love
him and know him but again it goes at the end of it it goes back to saying if
we understand that though we are significant we are not sovereign we are
freed up to say Lord I matter in my child’s life I matter what I do really
matters but I am going to trust you with the kids you have entrusted to me I
really want parents be able to read that verse and find freedom in it because
it’s wise instruction but at the end of the day there is only one who will not
fail our kids and it’s not me and Jim it’s not you and John it’s not you
there’s only one who has never and will never fail them and that’s Jesus and we
are free to confess that and that doesn’t make us failures it makes us
people who know the extravagance of God’s grace and can parent our children
with more of a lie yes and more of a joy and more of a
wonder you know wonder is this hopeful expectation of what God’s going to do
next yes mmm that is so good Jeanne and I
love this statement from your book mom set free where you said God’s grace
taught you that you are a great sinner thank you but you also have a greater
Savior amen and in turn it’s helped you relax as a
parent and let joy live loud in your home I love that description what does
that look like in your family on a daily basis I think a big part of it is just
that me too mine said that willingness to come alongside our kids and say me
too I know what it’s like to struggle I know what it’s like to need Jesus and
there is a freedom in our house to be honest to take off our masks and let
down our guards and talk about the ways in which we are weaknesses the ways in
which we need the Lord to keep working in our lives I do think that when we are
clenching our fists in our homes and trying to control outcomes which I’m
really good at we steal all the joy right where does
the joy I go when we’re so focused on control and I’m learning how connection
is such a more beautiful way to parent my kids than control a connection over
control mindset how can I connect with them how can I make sure they feel seen
and heard in a way that opens their hearts up to the conversation rather
than just trying to control the way they’re going to go through this
hardship or through this experience it’s so well said and I’m telling you this is
a great resource if you’re a mom that feels shame over your parenting mistakes
or maybe unrealistic expectations for yourself or your children striving to
control as Jeannie’s talking about maybe all that creating anxiety about your
child’s faith and future I mean this is the resource for you I so appreciate
Jeannie you being diligent and faithful to the Lord to write this down and it
takes boldness because you’re exposing your weaknesses in here just like the
scripture says you know you become low so that people
will lift me up and you have done a wonderful job lifting up the Lord and
his principles and his approach to us as sinners both moms and dads there but
plenty of both in this book it’s written for moms but we’re in there too Jeannie
again thank you for being with us thank you for your love of the Lord and I
could tell you were doing a great job beautiful thank you
hey I’m John fuller and thanks for watching get more info about focus over
here and more from our guests over there and be sure to subscribe to our channel
as well

4 thoughts on “Finding Freedom as a Grace Based Mom Part 2 – Jeannie Cunnion

  • This was truly a God-given gift listening to this discussion. I am that mom struggling with my impatient, sleep deprived, angry outbursts towards my sweet toddler son and my baby boy. I've cried out to God to protect my sons from my impatience and for His help to increase my joy. I recognize more and more how much I need God's grace to cover my imperfections and to release that shame and guilt I've felt. Thank you so much for posting this.

  • Oh my. How I needed this today! What a blessing! This has touched my heart and opened my eyes. Thank you, thank you for putting this message out there for parents.

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