Q: Can anyone perfectly keep the commandments of God?
A: Since the fall no ordinary man can perfectly keep the commandments of God in this life but breaks them every day in thought, word, and action.
I came across these interesting passages in Project-Based Homeschooling by Lori Pickert:
Accept mistakes as an unavoidable part of learning. Let your child feel frustrated, but also let him see that his mistakes don’t upset you. Help him move on. “Now we know what doesn’t work. What should we try next?” (92)
Acknowledge his mistakes and make sure he sees that they help him work toward the right solution. Let him see that you’re not bothered by failure and that you see it as a temporary setback. “What do you think went wrong?” “What are you going to try next?” “Let’s make a list of other things you could try.” “Which of your ideas do you want to try first?” Be relaxed so he can relax. (94)
When he’s frustrated or angry about something that went wrong, don’t cheerlead and don’t become upset yourself. Project calm acceptance (things will always go wrong; it’s inevitable) and optimism (you can always find another way; there’s a solution somewhere). (96)
To me this resonates with a covenantal approach to our children.
Christianity must start with a profound fatalism. We don’t just talk about mistakes or shortcomings or failures; we talk about sin, and we talk about sinfulness as fundamental to our being as genetics or consciousness.
We do well to look long and hard at the logs in our eyes. We cannot teach about sin to our kids without first acknowledging our own corruption and depravity. I think we must be disposed to apologize openly and humbly in front of our kids and to our kids — and be ready to use every apology to emphasize the doctrine of sin and salvation. We must acknowledge to them that even our own best attempts will never be good enough and that often our niceties belie that smallness of our true thoughts and intentions.
I feel like if this attitude pervades our homes, there would be less reason to be anxious and overprotective about the ugliness of life. Life is ugly. Sin should still disgust and disturb our children, but they should not be surprised that public figures behave badly or governments commit atrocities or the weak are taken advantage of or major decisions are made with ignorance and short-sightedness or people have irreconcilable differences. We should not celebrate sin, but we need not pretend it doesn’t exist.
If we acknowledge this, though, we cannot congruously demand for effort, improvement, inspiration and solutions within ourselves or within our children. We would damn them with our debt though they will be no better than we have been. Any praise would be empty, and any hope would be hollow.
Our hope, however, does not lie in this fallen realm. If we place our charges in the trust of our covenantal God, we have hope indeed, hope that does not depend on our, or our children’s, or our world’s, proclivity to fail. We can accept that we fall short while still having confidence that it will all work out in the end. We can truly love and enjoy them with optimism and urge their growth and sanctification.
We can relax, and our children can relax. “Clear eyes, full hearts: can’t lose.”