September 11, 2007 by Stacy McDonald

The Myth of the Perfect Family

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Paul says in Titus 2 that the aged women are to teach the young women, among other things, to love their husbands and children, and to be “keepers at home.” If we decide it’s true that we as women are called by God to love and serve our families and keep our homes, then we as Christian women should do it wholeheartedly, because we’re also told in Colossians that, “Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:23-24).

It’s true; some days seem overwhelming. There are times when child rearing is just plain old “hard work.” Try as we might, our houses never stay perfectly clean, and each of our children is disobedient at least once every day. We could throw up our hands on those difficult mornings and claim for ourselves a day of defeat and failure, but God has a higher calling for us and sanctifies us through the day-to-day challenges.

We’re not to serve God by pretending life is easy for us or that we have it all down perfectly, because it’s not and we don’t. The world needs an honest depiction of real down-to-earth people living out real life to the glory of God. Unbelievers will see God in us when we demonstrate contentment wherever He has us, when they see the peace He gives us in trials, and when we give rather than take.

Don’t Blame Your Idols for Your Idolatry!

Don’t make the mistake of elevating anyone else to perfection status either. The family you’ve put up on a pedestal more than likely didn’t ask to be put there and won’t be very pleased when they feel themselves crash to the floor after you discover for yourself they are fallible humans, just like the rest of us. No matter what it looks like from your vantage point, the people in the family you’ve idolized still sin, the children aren’t perfect, the mom sometimes says unkind things, the father speaks in sinful anger from time to time, and their family creates messes that have to be cleaned, just like yours does.

Instead of wishing you could have a “really godly family” like that spit-and-polished family at church, consider the great gift of your own family and pray together that God would use you to serve one another, and others, to the glory of God. Each family has its own flavor or scent, spiritually speaking; and your family is no exception.

It is imperative that we live out the gospel consistently in every area of our lives, especially in our families. Not because it will make us happier or more fulfilled; our primary purpose is not to have children who will turn out smarter or godlier; or marriages that will be more satisfying; though all of those things may happen.

“Our primary purpose is to “glorify God and enjoy Him forever!”* We must display to the world an honest depiction of Christ and His Bride; we must prove to the heathen that God is real and that He is awesome, good, just, merciful, powerful, pure, holy, and magnificent! Our purpose in doing this must be to bring glory to God. If we have selfish, prideful motives in what we do, we’ll be left empty and won’t wind up “enjoying God” at all.

All of your family’s talents, personalities, and gifts work together to bring a unique offering to the church and to others. Instead of focusing on your blemishes, thank God for His grace and mercy and pray that your own family scent would be a sweet aroma to the Lord. And rather than coveting what God has done in another family, praise God for our differences, remembering that they too have their own blemishes that God must deal with.

As you live out the day-to-day as a wife and mother, nurturing your family, helping your husband, training your children, being industrious, creating a God-scented home, I pray you learn to be more than a content and happy homemaker—I pray you become a passionate housewife!

*In The Westminster Shorter Catechism, question number 1 asks, “What is the chief and highest end of man?” The answer is, “Man’ s chief and highest end is to glorify God, (Rom. 11:36, Cor. 10:31) and fully to enjoy him forever. (Ps. 73:24–28, John 17:21–23) The Westminster Larger Catechism : With Scripture Proofs. Oak Harbor, WA : Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1996, S. Question 1

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8 Responses to “The Myth of the Perfect Family”

  1. Janet says:

    Stacy, what a great reminder to all of us to look to Jesus, and stop comparing ourselves with ourselves. All of us have, at one time or another, fallen into this trap, for it is the human condition. Instead of comparing ourselves with the Standard, we compare ourselves with others who are more (or less) godly or perfect in one way or another. If they are more perfect, we are discouraged; if they are less perfect, we are prideful. Either way, we sin!

    So, thanks for sharing that bit of wisdom. Much appreciated!


  2. Mrs. Dole says:

    Stacy ~
    What a wonderful reminder! This is such an easy trap to fall into. It’s good to remember that others are sinners too, and we all have our areas of struggle ~ and some just cover better in public than others. ;-)

    Thanks for turning us back to Scripture and our true purpose.


  3. Anonymous says:

    Just what I needed to hear this day! Thank you for the encouragment. I have been guilty of doing this more then once!
    Laura in Va

  4. Bonnie says:

    The Lord has a wonderful way of opening up opportunities for our families to show ourselves vulnerable. If we are open with each other, we can truly edify — what a blessing to just be content with the family He has placed us in!

    When we are honestly striving, within the family, to keep the unity of the Spirit and let Him work out bumps and warts, then society, and especially the household of faith, will surely be encouraged and see that it is possible to grow in grace as a family! Thank God for His wisdom and strength to run this race!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Just came across this news article…

    Re : How the Church has become feminized and why fewer men than women identify with the Church and how Churches are trying to address this issue.

    /delete this comment

  6. The Gardner Family says:

    Great post, Stacy. As always, thanks for being an encouragement and blessing.


  7. Tiffany says:

    “A God-scented home.”

    My goal exactly. I often refrain from reading “homemaker” or other such blogs, because they often feel as though the family behind the homemaker IS perfect. And though I intellectually KNOW it’s not true, it is so easy to allow the Enemy of my soul to rub my face in my own family’s “less-than-perfectness.” It’s so easy to lose sight of God that way.

    I was introduced to your blog by a friend who shares your posts occasionally on facebook. Every single one I’ve read has blessed me in a very NON-perfect way. I sense your honesty and “realness.” (I make up words fairly often.)

    I appreciate this post especially.

  8. Molly says:

    LOVE this! Makes me rest in Christ’s compassion in our family’s imperfect state while feeling inspired to pursue His presence and glory even more. Thanks!

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