The Hardest Part
I’ve only been a mom for a short time. A little over 3 years to be exact. But, I have spent my fair share of time attempting to glean and learn from other mothers. I’ve analyzed learning styles, read the best articles, and spoken intimately with mothers I’ve deeply admired. I’ve even looked at my own childhood, picking apart what I wish I had and attempting to recreate the good moments I did. According to my husband, I’m a researcher. It’s what I do, and definitely one of my gifts. But more adequately, I would describe myself as an equipper. I want to be equipped with the best knowledge I can to make the best choices I can, and I’d love to help others do the same. And if there is one thing I’ve learned in 12 yrs of personal research and 3 years of on the job training about motherhood it is this- IT IS STUPID HARD.
Sucks. And it just doesn’t get easier no matter how long you’ve been doing it, or how hard you try. If anything, my efforts have felt like diddly since adding our second child. For every fire squashed, another pops up. It’s like being in a constant game of whack a mole, both unsure of who put in the quarters to start this game or when the tickets will come spilling out cueing that the game has ended.
I can hear you laughing, but am I wrong?
Sorry, I’ve been told mommy shouldn’t say that. Let’s just suffice to say it gets pretty crazy. Now, I wouldn’t be completely honest if I didn’t say it was the best kind though. I have some of the cutest littles who, amazingly, are learning to love Jesus and love others. Some of that is through the very intentional work of my husband and me, but most of it has to do with the part of my job description that I find the hardest to do.
Whenever I speak to other moms, young or old, with adopted children, or ones they have carried, or even expectant mothers waiting for the promise, there is one part of the job that is universally hard to do-
Give yourself some grace
Grace. It’s like a catchphrase now, isn’t it? Everyone wants grace, loves grace, shoot, I even know a number of friends who have named their children Grace. (For the record, I love that name. Tried twice to use it on my girls, but the hubby vetoed it, moving on so swiftly it almost felt like consideration.)
At the end of the day though, I believe we keep hearing it because it’s the message God is trying his best to get us to notice and really hear. In an age where we have more tools than tips, more moguls than mentors, and more insight into the lives of others than quiet time in our own, it’s hard to give yourself the grace you need to grow.
I get it too. I spend way too much time on Instagram envying the lives of others, instead of living my own. I attempt to wish or drown away my insecurities instead of bathing them in the love of the One who died to redeem them. My one word last year was Grace. If I had to rate myself, I would say I was NOT successful.
I’m my worst critic. Honestly, most of us are. And that, my dear friends, is what I believe makes motherhood so hard. We want to be better, to be the best versions of ourselves for our spouses, our kids, and our careers. We’re looking hard for the one thing we know we’re put on this earth to do with no clue as to how to make it happen. For geeze-sakes we are trying, and exhausted. Shoot, the energy of a parent, new or old can be less than the degrees on a thermometer in Chicago in winter.
Le’Struggle is real…
But, should our struggle be with ourselves? Isn’t this just another form of pride? Should we be striving toward motherhood perfection or toward the Savior who has already gifted us all things? Most days, especially over this last year, I felt much like how Paul describes himself in 2 Corinthians 12; I felt tormented by Satan for all the things I wasn’t. I wasn’t home enough, and when I was, I was exhausted from work. My house isn’t clean enough. My husband not happy enough. All things I could work on, but I felt totally overwhelmed by how little I could really control. I felt a bit like I brought a water gun to a wildfire.
Yep, 2017 felt just like this…
Yet the same words He whispered to Paul, today He reminded me. In 2 Corinthians, Paul tells them the words Christ whispered to him in his weakest moments. “…My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor 12:9 ESV)
That word perfect comes from the Greek word teleó. This verb doesn’t mean perfection in the sense that everything is right, but that the process is finished. It literally translates to mean that He will accomplish His power through a necessary process, with consequences that roll over to the next level. Can you hear what He is saying to us? God desires to accomplish His will through our weakest moments with LASTING results.
Dear mom, what if our weakest moments are designed to give us the most access to His power. What if where we fall short truly led us to fall on our knees and trust God with the outcome? What if our hot mess moments were the exact moments where our family got to experience more of Jesus because we yield our shortcomings to him?
What if learning to give ourselves grace is one of the greatest opportunities we have to show our children God’s power? What if we give them a front row seat to seeing him transform our weaknesses under the grace of His love? What if the best evidence of His love is seen in our transparent relationship with Him, especially in our weaknesses?
Because the truth is love, just as Paul encouraged the same group of people earlier in the same letter, “ We are pressured in every way but not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair (though I feel darn close sometimes), we are persecuted but not abandoned; we are struck down but not destroyed.” (2 Cor 4:8-9 ESV; emphasis mine).
We are yet alive. We are still living, breathing, and (hopefully) mothering. We are still here! Though we may feel like very broken earthen vessels, God still sees not just beauty, but treasure in us. He is living and breathing in us, and ready to show himself strong to us and through us, if only we would let him. And those results? They wouldn’t just last for the moment. Instead, the process of his grace perfecting us in our weak moments means that our future self and all we influence can benefit as well. The weaker we allow ourselves to be, the stronger he can become. The more I yield to the fact that I am indeed imperfect, instead of cringing away from it, the more of Him I get to experience, healing my brokenness and lovingly growing me up in Him.
How do we give ourselves this grace? Here are some practical tips I’ve gathered:
- Rest in His love. Gather scriptures that speak of His love and acceptance of you. When we do this, we won’t look for that approval in others, even in our homes. It’s vital that we know the truth about who we are, and there is only one place we’ll get that impartial truth- from the one who not just created us, but willingly volunteered his life for our own.
- Find out the gift of you. This nugget comes from a good friend Chrystal Evans Hurst. We must do the diligence of honoring both the gifts God has given us and the woman He has given it to. Find a way to honor the treasure He has placed inside of you, no matter what the season. For more help with this, pick up her book “She’s Still There”, now on sale at Target!!
- Serve yourself first. Now hear me on this one. While yes, there are plenty of moments where other things must come first, but I will never forget riding the plane for the first time with my oldest daughter. The stewardess came over to remind my husband and I to place the mask on ourselves before helping others. Quite simply, make time to refuel and start your day well. Whether that is working out, quiet time, a good book, or a great date. Invest in yourself. A wise woman once told me, “you must learn to serve from your saucer, not your cup.” We must learn to give the extra, leaving something for us to function on ourselves. When we aren’t taking care of ourselves, we can serve no one well.
- Lastly, but most importantly PRAY. Pray out loud, pray in the closet, pray in the shower, shoot pray before you let that angry word slip. Find books on prayer (I love Stormie Omartian’s series of the Praying Woman, Wife, Mother, Parent…etc). Just do it. It doesn’t have to be fancy or long but do it. I want my girls to see me crying out to God both in my weakest moments, and in my strong ones so they will learn He is always there for them as well. My oldest has taken to praying to God for help when she makes a bad choice. Help to give her another chance to say sorry, and help to choose better in the future, all on her own. And I’m proud. I’m sure that has something to do with her awesome daddy who is at home with her during the day, but it made me want to be more like her. Trusting God even with my worst moments. Giving space for his grace where I fall. It’s a habit I plan to develop and I hope our youngest grows to as well.
Lord, Help us to see you. Help us to remember that we remain as broken as the parts of ourselves we try to perfect apart from you. Your grace is supersized in our weak moments, Daddy. Help us to not hide them from you, but instead to grow through them in your love. Remind us of how much you love us. Show us just how great your love is, and how to love the beauty you’ve placed inside of us. Give us the courage to fight in our dark moments, May we be surrounded by those who will never let us lose sight of you. We love you. In Jesus Name, help us we pray. Amen.
So what will you do this week to allow more of God’s grace to shine in your life? How will you walk more in His love? What’s been the hardest for you? How can we support and pray for you? Leave your answers in the comments below. Let’s pray for and encourage each other.