guest contributor: Natasha Metzler |

A while back our family had some things come to light, where one child had lied so convincingly about the other that we, as parents, believed the wrong child. It was a serious issue, that had huge repercussions in all of our lives. 

When the truth came out, I was devastated. Horrified. Angry at myself (the most) for not knowing, and angry with God that He hadn't done SOMETHING to show us the truth earlier. Because I had believed a lie, I perpetrated a lie, and maybe worst of all, I failed to protect one of my children from harm, when I would literally have done anything to keep them safe. 

I was a mess. Not sleeping. Barely eating. I felt so stupid. Once I knew the truth, I could look back and see a million little moments when the truth had been *right there* and I had missed it. 

"You should have known," was the constant refrain in my head.

Thankfully, I have some close friends who knew what was happening and surrounded me and helped me. I met with a therapist & one thing she told me over and over was, "You can't know what you don't know."

The shame I felt for not knowing, wasn't mine to carry. It was not my fault I didn't know. That didn't mean that I didn't have responsibility! I had to apologize, I had to humble myself as we worked to right wrongs. I needed to learn from our experiences. And at the same time, I could also walk in freedom from shame and condemnation.

Scripture tells us in Romans 8:1 that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. This means we are FREE from the lie that we need to get everything right to be acceptable, or even to be successful! 

In raising our kids, we're going to get things wrong. Maybe those things will have mild consequences on one child and life-altering ones on the next. We're human beings with complex nervous systems and outrageously complex brains. How things affect each person is impossible to predict or completely prevent. 

If we believe that we are solely responsible to know everything and prevent everything, we're going to fail because that's impossible. Nobody can know everything.

So what can we do? Well, to be blunt, when we know better, we do better. We shift. We change. We stay humble and teachable. 

And as we change, we show grace to others. Because people can't know what they don't know.  (And just throwing information at someone won't fix that, hearing isn't the same as knowing.) 

We can't fix these things for anyone else, but we CAN live out changes and make it easier for others to learn and grow without shame. 

It's all a process though. It takes time and because life doesn't pause for us to figure stuff out, it's easy to get wrapped up in condemning ourselves or others. But what if, instead, we offered up hope? 

This is the truth about Jesus that fills me when I'm devastated by my choices and others' choices. What following Jesus offers, is the knowledge that there is hope in every situation. Nothing is beyond being redeemed. 

I can sit in condemnation because my parenting decisions opened the door for harm, or I can grieve and release those choices, trusting that God WILL step in and fill all the places where I fail. Then I'll do my best to follow His lead, repenting and seeking reparations where needed. 

We are limited in our humanness, unable to know what we don't know. But we are also deeply capable, made in the image of a holy God, and when we know better, we can do better. 


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