Do you know what I realized today?

It’s really easy to sin against your kids and get away with it.

And do you know how I feel about that realization?

It makes me want to puke.

Yes, puke.

Because literally, it turns my stomach inside-out and upside-down and into a bunch of tiny-twisty knots when I think about the many ways I can let my sin slide in the presence of my kids; it makes my soul sad and my heart heavy when I think about the many ways I can excuse away and justify my sin in front of those little faces; and it makes my spirit cringe and my mind cower when I think about the many ways I can skirt the issues of my sin, avoid the awkwardness of my sin, jump the confrontation of my sin, and dance around the unfair, unloving, and VERY unpleasant sin that happens in the company of my children.

And why is my sin so easily able to hide and even flourish in the presence of my small children?

Because I can easily let my children and their sometimes annoying, frustrating, and maddening behavior be the scapegoat for my sin. 

So what am I talking about?

Well, let me go ahead and explain with a real-life, Tuesday-morning situation.

At 9:58 AM, I’m trying to herd the cattle children out the door. But because we’ve actually got some errands to run and a place to be, the cattle children are needy. Child #1 asks for a refill on juice, help with his shoes, and makes an urgent request for a specific jacket. Child #2 is following me around with a toothbrush, begging for me to brush her teeth while bringing me random shoes that she’s now leaving all over the house, while simultaneously screaming for her pacifier and requesting a snack.

My nerves are irritated; my soul is annoyed; and the environment is ripe for sin. So what do I do?

I sin. 

I raise my voice. I slam the cupboard door. I huff. I puff. I blame daddy for dirty, muddy shoes. I bark orders. I complain. I remind them of the many, many, MANY ways I am always sacrificially serving them. I bark some more orders. And then I huff some more puff.

In short, I respond with sin.

And ya know what? I can kinda get away with it.

And ya know what? Sometimes I do.


Because my kids can’t always spot my sin, understand my sin, or confront my sin. 

But then sometimes, like on a Tuesday morning at 10:02 AM, they do kinda spot it…and they do kinda understand it…and they do kinda confront it.

“Mommy, are you mad at me?”

I stopped dead in my huffing-puffing tracks.

My son saw my yuck, heard my yuck, was feeling my yuck, and then asked me about my yuck.

In that moment, standing face to face with my son and my sin, I could have excused, justified, rationalized, skirted, avoided, jumped and even dumped my sin on them, but in that moment…I knew that jumping and dumping my sin on them was not something I wanted to do.


Because me being mad wasn’t their stuff…it was my stuff. 

Getting on my knees in front of those little souls, I picked up my junk and owned it.

“Guys, I’m sorry. Yes, you were relentlessly asking for stuff and yes, you had needs that needed to be met and yes, you were acting like 4 and 1, but my impatient, unkind, temperamental response was MY SIN. It was NOT your fault that I chose to act the way I did. Will you forgive me?”

In that moment, on the floor, by the door, in front of my kids, and before my God, I accepted my sin for what it was.


And as we drove away to those errands that were hardly worth the sin I chose, I thanked my boy for asking about my sin. And then in the next breath, I begged him to never, ever, EVER stop asking questions about the sin he sees, hears, and feels. Because if there is one thing I never, ever, EVER want…it’s letting my children accept the blame for the sin I need to claim.

Confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. James 5:16
Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. Proverbs 28: 13


4 thoughts on “Scapegoating

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