What’s the Big Deal?
I have had more reads, shares, and responses to my last post (click here to read) than any other post I’ve written to date. I was in awe of the response and felt it would be a good idea to explain why I think what I wrote is in fact a big deal and not to be dismissed easily. What I think is at stake regarding the “Growing Kids Gods Way” program, at its core, is the issue of grace.
The truth is that grace is a life-altering reality that is at the center of the Gospel. It is through grace that we are truly set free and it is grace that exposes the futility of our own efforts to gain right standing with God. It is through grace that we are truly set free.
My Story of Grace
The majority of my Christian experience has been largely void of a practical understanding of God’s grace expressed through everyday life. Although I genuinely followed Jesus from a very young age, giving Him my whole life, what I primarily learned through church and other Christian influences (including GKGW as a teenager) was a works-based, earning, “getting it right” version of Christianity. Lived out this mentality has caused me to feel as though I have to get things right in order to be okay. Under this mentality, if I mess up, I am not okay.
In the past eight years, though, there have been two major waves of me growing in my understanding of grace. Those two waves of further understanding have profoundly changed me and now hugely inform how I live in almost every aspect of my life.
I was twenty-three before I really began to understand what the Gospel was actually all about. I had gone through my own crisis of faith as I realized that who I had become while working in full-time formal ministry was not who I wanted to be: I was lacking connection with God, and I was not loving people well. In stepping out of full-time ministry at that time, I began to purely pursue God again…stripped down of performance and earning…but instead just really wanting to know Him. It was in this season that I began to grasp for the first time how truly broken and sinful I actually was and how truly amazing Jesus is. It was in this season that I gained an understanding of what it meant that Jesus was my Rescue. That I couldn’t do anything to save myself…truly couldn’t do anything…but He can and did do it all. My life was profoundly changed. I began to see how necessary Jesus’ Rescue and Restoration was for my life and all the lives around me to ever truly experience life, peace, and wholeness. I began to set aside the spiritual striving and ministry accomplishments that became standards for my life and began to replace them with Jesus…His Rescue, His Redemption, His Restoration of me and all things. This new understanding of the Gospel was the doorway to my understanding the reality of grace.
The second wave of understanding grace began when I married my husband four years later. I’ve never met anyone else who loves and follows Jesus as fully as my husband does (to hear his story, click here). Because he has dynamically experienced the grace of God, he has a vast ability to extend and explain grace.
In our marriage and life, it has become apparent again and again in the past four years how much I still wrestle with the reality of grace versus the pull of works and earning. He has helped me to see so many areas that I find myself trying to “get it right,” trying to gain approval, afraid of failure, and immobilized by anxiety over it all. Not only that, but he has again and again patiently talked me through the reality of grace applied to those struggles. Often, he has been a tangible expression to me of God’s grace lived out in everyday life. My husband has led and is continually leading me into the reality of grace. A reality where I no longer have to get everything right or earn approval to be okay or to be loved, but am set free in the incredible love of God through the total Rescue of Jesus. I am slowly learning that I no longer have to get it all “right” or hold it all together. I am learning how to live under the truth that Jesus is the one who holds all things together, including me. Jesus not only leads me into how to live in line with His design but He also forgives and heals me when I mess up and miss His design, so there is release of the fear of failure and there is now no need to perform. I am more and more at peace, and my soul is freer than ever because I am learning to live under this incredible reality of grace.
It is because I come out of a works-based, earning, “getting it right” culture of Christianity…but am conversely learning the everyday reality and expression of grace…that I am so passionate about exposing programs, habits, and expressions of any works-based version of Christianity.
The destructiveness of the big picture of the GKGW program and the likely long-term results of perpetuating their overarching mentality must be exposed. I spoke not to be disparaging to parents working through their personal parenting philosophies, but to inform parents about the subtleties of that particular program and the likely outcome(s).
For those who have found pieces of both true and helpful information in the program while also being able to see the overall rule-based nature of the program, you have done amazingly! That is what I hope all parents would do with any parenting program: evaluate what is both true and helpful while also weeding out what is broken, destructive, and/or not beneficial.
However, not everyone has seen the flaws in this program. I wrote for those parents who had not yet seen or did not know of the overarching reality of the program (law instead of grace), the likely long-term outcomes of parenting from such a place (performance-driven people pleasers), and the questionable character of the program’s founder. I wrote to expose these realities so that young parents and families who are genuinely seeking to follow God could be informed about this program claiming to be “God’s Way”.
God’s “Way” is grace through Jesus. There is a dynamic difference between living a life trying to keep the law and living a life under the reality of grace. It is the difference between death and life. It is the difference between bondage and freedom.
Because of these differences, the GKGW program is not benign. It is spiritual in nature. Everything is. Our call and our charge is to discern the spiritual reality behind what we follow, believe, and chose to do in life. A program announcing itself as “God’s Way” for parenting, yet so grounded in a works-based (law) reality is incongruent. Because I love Jesus, His grace, and young families, I feel compelled to expose those inconsistencies.