Few things have made me more aware of my proclivity toward works-righteousness and condemnation than mothering. There is an endless array of opinions and practices with which to gauge my adequacy….or inadequacy. If I am not intentional about speaking words of grace to myself, my days are filled with a fluctuation of condemning thoughts, “I should’ve gotten up earlier today. If this were easier than I would’ve been able to respond more graciously to my child. I could’ve made that meal plan, but instead I checked Facebook.” If I follow that thought pattern down to my heart, what I am really saying is, “If I do these things…I feel better about myself…and I am acceptable to God. And if I don’t do these things, I feel badly about myself …and have nothing to commend myself to God.”
I remember when we first moved to Lancaster about 8 years ago. One of my little preciouses would never want to go to Children’s Ministry. I would dread Sundays for this reason. Little Miss would cause quite the scene. I am pretty sure sweet Gina Plain was teaching one Sunday when one of our escapades ensued. There I was, about one hundred children on each hand, trying to pass one of them (who will remain un-named) to the teacher, when the screaming began. Screaming, I can handle. It’s a bit embarrassing, but manageable. This particular Sunday Little Miss began holding onto my hair as the teacher tried to untangle her from my body. I was going in one direction, my hair, and little person that I bore, going another. Can you say mortified? I laugh about it now, but going through that season was torturous. I compared myself to others whose children would NEVER do that. I lamented that if I were a better mom, my child would never do that either. I couldn’t see the big picture of grace…just what I should, would, or could do differently. And in the light of life, that season was a drop in the bucket. I am no longer missing clumps of hair on Sundays and God’s faithfulness is more real because of that season.
We know that all of life is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Yet, our default mode is often works. At the end of works is self…not gospel. I have heard it said that our grasp of the gospel is best illustrated in the way we respond when we sin or fail. On those Sundays, in particular, my view of God was small. My gaze was inward and downward, filled with self, a sure indicator of condemnation. When the Holy Spirit convicts us; it is sweet. Our gaze is upward and outward, trusting that God is at work. We are aware that God is huge and we are small. It is a very different posture of heart.
A few days ago I read this post from Stephen Altrogge entitled: “Dear Moms: Jesus wants you to chill out.” It is refreshing for the soul. I love how simply he describes our job description. Please take time to read it. May it fill our hearts afresh to love God, our husbands, and children by grace through faith in Christ. Enjoy!
“FACT: If your children can’t read by age four there is a 95% chance they will end up homeless and on drugs.
FACT: If your children eat any processed food there is an 85% chance they will contract a rare, most likely incurable disease, by age 12.
FACT: If you’re not up at dawn reading the Bible to your children, you are most likely a pagan caught in the clutches of witchcraft.
FACT: If your children watch more than 10 minutes of television a day there is 75% chance they will end up in a violent street gang by age 17.
Obviously, the “facts” listed above are not true (at least, I don’t think they are). But, I’ve noticed that the Internet has made it much easier for people, and moms in particular, to compare themselves to each other. Now, just to be clear, this is not a post against “mom blogs”, or whatever they’re called. If you write a mom blog, that’s cool with me. This is a post to encourage the moms who tend to freak out and feel like complete failures when they read the mom blogs and mom Facebook posts.
Moms, Jesus wants you to chill out about being a mom. You don’t have to make homemade bread to be a faithful mom. You don’t have to sew you children’s clothing to be a faithful mom. You don’t have to coupon, buy all organic produce, keep a journal, scrapbook, plant a garden, or make your own babyfood to be a faithful mom. There’s nothing wrong with these things, but they’re also not in your biblical job description.
Your job description is as follows:
- Love God. This simply means finding some time during the day to meet with the Lord. It doesn’t have to be before all the kids are awake. It doesn’t have to be in the pre-dawn stillness. Your job is to love God. How you make that happen can look a million different ways.
- Love your husband (unless you’re a single mom, of course). Your second job is to love and serve your husband. Husbands are to do the same for their wives, but that’s for a different post. If your husband really likes homemade bread, maybe you could make it for him. But don’t make homemade bread simply because you see other moms posting pictures of their homemade bread on Facebook.
- Love your kids. Your calling as mom is to love your kids and teach them to follow the Lord. They don’t need to know Latin by age six. If they do, more power to you. But that’s a bonus, not part of the job description. Your job is simply to love your kids with all your exhausted heart, and to teach them to love Jesus. That’s a high calling. Don’t go throwing in other, extraneous things to make your life more difficult. If you want to teach your kids to sew, great. But don’t be crushed by guilt if your kids aren’t making stylish blazers by the age of 10.
Moms, Jesus want you to rest in him. He wants you to chill out. His yoke is easy and his burden is light. Don’t compare yourself to other moms. Don’t try to be something God hasn’t called you to be. If the mom blogs are making you feel guilty, stop reading them. Be faithful to what he has truly called you to do, and know that he is pleased with you. When your kids are resting, don’t feel guilty about watching an episode of “Lost”, or whatever your favorite show may happen to be.
Love God, love your husband, love your kids. Keep it simple and chill out.”