Being a mom is hard. It’s just a fact. It’s wonderful and it’s hard. But being a mom, just like everything else in my life, is something that God IS helping me in. And just like in the other parts of my life, when I’m still I can recognize God’s leading. I know we all need to commiserate and have a safe place to be “real” and “raw” and I love being that place here on the blog. As a friend recently said “We’re all just kind of losing our crap and trying to get our crap together.” It’s so true.
So much of being a mom is about endurance and I so easily forget that God wants to grow me in the midst of it. Not through, around, or out of it. God wants me to grow IN IT.
God wants my heart. All of it. Even the mommy parts.
So even though it’s scary to share vulnerable mommy things (because I’m afraid one of the crazy ones out there will read it and misunderstand it and attack me on behalf of all the crazies and it will hurt even though it shouldn’t), I want to share the most vulnerable mommy thing in my life as I’m in it. (see I’m getting so much better at vulnerability!)
Recently I got to spend time with a friend I don’t usually get to see because we live on opposite sides of the country. All week I watched the way she was patient and gentle AND also firm and instructive with her boys. If any mom out there has an excuse for stress and impatience it’s a mom who lives out of a trailer with her family, moving each week to a new place, nine months out of the year. And yet she guides her children in such grace. Every time we visit I’m so encouraged and fueled to be a grace-filled woman and thus a grace-filled momma to my kids.
Not a perfect momma, not a Pinterest momma, or a has-it-all-together momma-- a full of grace momma.
I feel very free from any ridiculous idea of being the perfect mom. But I know that God uses people in our lives to inspire us and spur us on to worship Him with our entire lives (even the mommy parts). And watching this momma friend continually speak with patience and gentleness was a stark contrast to my parenting demeanor most days.
I would love to blame my impatient and sometimes harsh parenting demeanor on the stress of the past year, but the truth is that patience and gentleness has never been my natural demeanor.
As I watched my friend, time after time using gentle, but firm tones and attitudes with her kids I was reminded of the scripture that God had impressed upon me recently.
I tried to ignore the conviction and need for repentance that I felt. I wanted to keep controlling my parenting on my own. I wanted to think that I was a good mom on my own, that some mystical mothering instincts would guide me and I wouldn’t need help. Not even from God. It’s not like I went around waving a banner or even thinking about it consciously, but not wanting help (even from God) is my default behavior. How quickly I forget that I was created to live my life with God and thus always benefiting from His help. It’s not weakness, it’s not that I couldn’t do it on my own so now I pathetically need help. It’s that I am immensely loved and given the gift of a relationship with God even in spite of my sin and weakness.
After a week of watching this momma friend who had such a dear and guiding role in her boys lives, I knew that God was allowing me to be inspired toward repentance and change.
It was obvious that God was moving Austin and I to alter our parenting together when we each had the same take away from that week. And that is a sweet sweet gift.
God began revealing to me that when I take my kids’ disobedience as a personal offense, there is no way that I can guide my kids. I get way too pulled into my frustration, anger and annoyance that MY plans are now messed up, MY expectations are unmet, and MY desires are not being fulfilled.
I began to recognize that my parenting had been built on a system of serving myself, not serving the Lord.
I wasn’t guiding my kids to obedience as it honors God and repentance when they sinned. I was trying to keep all the plates perfectly spinning so that nothing in my eco-system was disturbed. There is absolutely time for things that are just for me, but I can’t demand that our family build our relationships around those things.
I want to lead them in grace and truth. Really really lead them. So we’ve been quieter and we’ve been slower. We’ve been changing our expectations. And sometimes we have a great day, and sometimes I catch myself mid sentence and change my tone and my message. We are getting there, we will never BE arrived. But I’ll tell you this, having a car full of happy kids and a happy momma (even though the morning was it’s usually insanity and last minute shoe hunt) on our way to church on Sunday morning-- that was the best kind of worship. Knowing that I loved my neighbors, my little people, that I didn’t provoke them, that we were living at peace with each other even when it’s hard and demands sacrifices, that’s what my my true spiritual worship looks like in this season.