Bearing the Weight of Sin

BY GRETCHEN RONNEVIK

Do any of you have one of “those” kids?  Every family should have at least one. They humble you. They’re the ones that break the mold of the family, and usually their parents at the same time.

Awhile back, I was at a 3-day practicum in the summer so that I could be trained in to tutor a group of middle schoolers for the coming school year. This was a great event for families, as they had 3 day “camps” for all of my kids to attend while I was at my training during the day. Since it was about 6 hours away from home, I rented an Airbnb, left my husband to his work and drove all my kids out there for the event by myself. 

After I got everyone fed supper in our rented house after the first day of my training, one of my kids came up to me and told me about “an incident” that happened that day with one of my other kids. He had had one of his meltdowns…something we hadn’t seen in a while. He had thrown a chair, and there was yelling and crying. This other child that came to me was embarrassed by what her brother had done, and she didn’t want to tattle, but she thought I needed to know.

The next morning, as I dropped off each of my kids at their classroom locations for their day camp, I dropped the child with the incident last. I wanted to talk to the teacher in his classroom, and make sure everything was ok. She was busy checking kids in, so I stepped back and waited. It was then that I was approached by the supervisor of all the day camps.

“So, we had an incident yesterday.”

“Yes, one of my kids told me about it.”

She proceeded to tell me the details, and let me know how they responded, and how the day ended up. In my mind, they had done everything right (though I would not have minded being pulled out of my training for this). 

I was scared she was going to tell me that he couldn’t come anymore. This kid got kicked out of things often enough. I needed this training. This was a non-negotiable for my family.

“I’m so, so, so very sorry.” I stammered out.

This woman looked at me and cocked her head with questioning eyes. “Why are you sorry? You weren’t even there. You didn’t do anything wrong. Your son did. I just need to make sure that he agrees to our code of conduct before returning to class.”

Her statement caught me off guard. “You didn’t do anything wrong. Your son did.” I bit my lip. My face got hot, and to my embarrassment, I started crying. It was like a pent-up dam was released. As a mom of six children, I hear it all. “Control your kids.” “Your kid shouldn’t be doing that.” “Keep an eye on your kid.”

The worst is when I hear it passive aggressively about other parents, and then it internalizes in me. When some kids act up in public it’s “Some parents just don’t discipline.” “Some parents just don’t teach boundaries.” “No one teaches manners anymore.” “Parents just need to learn to say ‘no.’”

While that all might be true, I get so weary of people thinking that I’m the cause of my children’s sinful nature. I must not be trying hard enough. If I just parented them better, they wouldn’t deal with sin anymore.

That’s the weight that suffocates parents today.

“You weren’t even there. You didn’t do anything wrong. Your son did.” I had never heard those words in all of my 14 years of parenting. They caught me off guard and struck deep.

I do not need to bear the weight of the sin of all 6 of my kids. That’s a lot of sin, let me tell you. I have enough of my own sin to crush me. I don’t need extra people’s sin thrown on top of me. 

You see, I have a well-worn path of repentance. I can’t say I’ve gotten comfortable with forgiveness, but I have come to expect that Jesus forgives me. I’ve learned to trust that about him—he deals with my sin and doesn’t leave me in them. The Holy Spirit’s convicting presence has become a comfort to me. He will not leave me in my sin. 

Yet, even though I knew Jesus took my sin, I still bore the burden of my children’s sin. I mentally, emotionally, and oftentimes physically bore the weight of it. God deals with my sin…therefore I should deal with my kids’ sin. I’m God’s ambassador to them after all.

I am not the Savior. 

Whenever I think back to that conversation, I’m reminded that I’m not built to bear my kids’ sin. There is only One who is strong enough to bear the guilt of the sins of others, and that is Jesus. That sweet woman who was in charge of those day camps made that clear to me that day. Give that burden to Jesus. Yep, even the burden of guilt you carry for your kids’ sin. It’s his, and he can bear it. Take on the light yoke of just pointing people to Jesus. My role as a parent does involve discipline. It does involve being an ambassador. It does involve prayer, training, and correction. It does not involve having some kind of righteous-guilt over what they have done.

We are to teach our children right from wrong (the law). We are also to teach our children what God has done for our wrong, and what that means for us (the gospel).

God did not cause our sin. He was the perfect “parent” and yet Adam and Eve still fell into sin. God did everything right. And yet, he bore the sin of not just Adam and Eve, but their children and their children’s children, all the way down to me…and my children.

God does not need to apologize for the kind of father he is, even though his children are sinners. We do yell at him when one of his children does something too. It was not because of God’s lack in teaching us, disciplining us, or explaining something to us. We simply are born sinners, and actually sin of our own accord. 

Jesus bore the weight of each person, and each sin on that cross.He is the weight-bearer, and what a relief his strength is to us—to me, my children, and someday my children’s children.

Gretchen is a mom to 6 hilarious kids from toddler to teenager. She works as a homeschool mom, writer, and tutor to middle school kids in classical studies.  She has published an e-course for mentors in intergenerational ministry called Gospel Mentoring and works to equip women’s ministries in churches from falling into legalistic patterns that compromise the message of the gospel.