Teaching Children Grace: "Grace Boots"
Today, guest writer Amber Robbins is sharing how it’s sometimes the lessons we teach our children that teach us the most about the Savior’s grace. Thank you for sharing Amber!
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A few months ago I was looking for a way to teach my two oldest daughters how important it is to have a good attitude and make good choices. I decided to use an object lesson to allow them to see how quickly good choices and actions add up to create a positive impact on their day and overall attitude. I created what I called a “Sparkle Eyes Jar” and my children started filling up their mason jars with colorful pom-poms as they made good choices and served others with a happy heart and positive attitude. I also wanted them to see the effects of making poor choices, and as such, I also had them take pom-poms out of their jars when these types of decisions and choices were made. When the jars were filled, the children earned an added privilege such as staying up late on the weekend or ice cream after dinner.
One day my two daughters asked me to buy something for them. I decided that instead, they could earn it by filling their jars. My third child, a son, had seen his sisters’ work on filling their jars in the past and decided that this time, he also wanted to be a part of the action. He wanted to earn some cowboy boots.
Excited that he wanted to get involved, I prepared a jar for him to begin filling. As a 4 year-old boy, this was a monumental task for him. One minute he would be helping me clear the table with a good attitude, and the next minute he was fighting with his sisters over a toy. Then he would take his baby brothers’ dirty diaper out to the trash can but then come inside the house only to tease his siblings. All in all, he got very good at adding pom poms, but then having to take them out a few minutes later.
I started to see his discouragement and noticed that he only had a few pom poms in his jar. I tried to encourage him, but wondered if as a parent, I had asked more of him than he could accomplish on his own. After some time of diligent effort, and only eight pom poms in his jar, he came to me and said. “Mom, I will never be able to earn my boots. I am trying so hard, but will never be able to fill my jar on my own.”
My heart broke and I really wanted to find a way to help him earn them. I knew that as it stood, he may never earn them by himself. Easter was approaching, and I found myself pondering on the atonement and grace of the Savior. I then sat down and wrote my son a note that I don’t think he will ever forget. Then I filled the remainder of his jar, not with small colored pom-poms, but with very large, snow-white cotton balls, which represented the Savior’s atonement and grace, and placed it on the kitchen table on Easter morning-right next to his new boots.
He now calls these his “Grace Boots.”
What does this have to do with all of us? I don’t know about you, but on a daily basis, I find myself adding AND removing pom poms from my figurative “Sparkle Eyes Jar.” I make a really great decision, and then one that’s not so good. Sometimes I feel like I am giving my all and then get frustrated that the results don’t always reflect the time and effort put forth.
We all need the grace offered by Jesus Christ, and we can all be beneficiaries of this gift. This precious, saving gift is so important because as human beings who are striving for perfection, it is quite clear that none of us are, or ever will become perfect based merely on our own merits.
That’s where the grace is a gift, undeserved and so needed. As we are reminded in Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” What comfort we can take in the promise that verse 24 provides; “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ.”
In this fast-paced, perfection driven society, I want my children to learn that they can access the divine power of God’s grace to help with all of their shortcomings, sins, and weaknesses, and that this gift is always available to them. Beyond accepting God’s grace, I also want them to learn how to afford God’s grace to others, as that is what encompasses true charity.
The lesson of my son’s Grace Boots still fills my mind, and I realize that even though I will never reach perfection on my own, that because I am doing my best, Jesus could and would, by His grace, make up the difference for what I was lacking. Because he has already done just that. The realization that this gift was available and waiting for me to accept filled my heart with immense peace. Peace in knowing that through Him I can obtain my reward –not boots, but eternal life (See Acts 15:11).
That is His gift.