I can be a hypocrite of the worst sort.
Whenever I hear my children belittling each other or, worse, themselves, I am quick to instruct. I tell them to never forget that they are God’s design. That they are His masterpiece. And that when they talk badly about each other or themselves they are calling God a liar, telling him that He made a mistake when He created them, and tearing down God’s beautiful work.
And yet, I often talk as if God made one big mistake when He appointed me as their momma. I set expectations for myself that are impossible to meet and then I berate myself at the end of the day for not meeting them.
I didn't realize how much this had become a pattern until a night, not long ago, when Matt became angry with me. He does not get angry with me very often. He usually has infinite patience with my crazy but that night I saw frustration in his face and heard it in his voice.
“Would you allow anyone to talk about your best friend like that? How about your daughter?” he asked me, clearly irritated with me.
Someone asked me recently what God has been teaching me lately and I didn’t have to think too hard or too long about this. Shortly after Matt’s challenging question we were listening to a masterful preacher’s sermon. He stated that most Christians believe IN Jesus but precious few actually believe HIM. He asked us to pray and ask Jesus what promise of His we were having a hard time believing. I knew right away: that I am a good enough mom for my children.
The story of how my children came into our family leaves little doubt that they were placed with us by God. When they found themselves in need of a family, God chose Matt and me to raise them. I know that from the depths of my heart.
And because I am so deeply conscious of this I take the responsibility very seriously. I did not grow up in a Christian home; raising children God’s way is something with which I’m not familiar. So I read parenting books and blogs, I pray daily for wisdom, I ask Matt to help me find my blind spots. I am doing the best I can possibly do to be a good mom and I know that…in my head.
But my heart has a hard time believing it, especially when I have a hard day and feel like I've blown it as a mom. Then my doubt and insecurity manifest themselves in ramblings about my shortcomings and questions about my ability to parent well.
Which is what I was doing, out loud, the night Matt lost his patience with me. I guess I was going on and on about what I had not done right as a mom that day and wondering, out loud, if these children would not have been better off with a different woman. And then Matt raised his voice and shut me up.
So, the afternoon of the sermon I prayed for the faith to believe Jesus’ promise that I am the right mom for my kids. That He does not make mistakes. He talked to me about grace and reminded me that grace is hardest when it is self-administered.
God is more interested in my obedience than in my skills. He has made this clear in many areas of my life in which He has asked me to serve when I felt less than equipped.
Mothering is one of them.
None of us are perfect mothers and I think that is by design. Knowing that I have to rely on Him for the wisdom, strength, and skills that I need keeps me sensitive to His promptings and His guidance.
This is true.
But...I’m learning that there is a great difference between being realistic about my limitations and my need for His help, and focusing so much on my shortcomings that I forget that He has chosen me to parent my kiddos. The One who made me, who knows all my virtues and my flaws better than I know them myself, thinks enough of me and trusts me enough to place these two treasures in my care.
And still often I don’t offer myself the same grace I would offer any of my other mom friends to be…well, flawed mommas in need of Christ.
The night of the tirade Matt had had enough of hearing me talk about how I blew it that day. He asked me to tell him some of the things I had done well as a mom instead.
I was quiet and he was sad.
He told me that what he sees is a woman who loves her children, who works hard at raising them well, and who has much to offer them and teach them. And that God sees me that way as well. It is not by accident that those children are mine and I am theirs.
Extending myself grace can be a struggle, especially on the days when parenting seems the hardest, but with Jesus' help, I'm working on seeing my efforts with the same love-filled eyes with which He sees them.