I admit that I may have expressed this flippantly. Shortly after, however, I said it with vulnerability from an honest heart. I feel that way so often! I want to do this mama-thing ten times better. I fail so miserably at times. I struggle to feel adequate or enough. My kids deserve better has been a common theme played in my head. I lose my patience when my 5-year-old cries in the shower (she's not fond of washing her hair in a bath right now either). I attempt a perfectly peaceful bedtime tuck-in but fall prey to lecturing about the tidiness (or utter lack thereof) of my daughters' bedroom. I download devotionals and realize two months later that I never read them with my children. Plain and simple, there are many moments during my week--or days--when I feel so helplessly weak. I cannot alone change who or how I am as a mama.
Oh I do know the mama that I want to be! I know her so well. She is full of grace, forgiveness, love and creativity...and most of all she always speaks with soft gentility. (She does not have that too-loud and sometimes harsh tone to her voice). She hears from God about how to raise her children and she executes it flawlessly. So much so that everyone who knows her (or follows her on Facebook) thanks her for her wisdom and grace. Okay, truth be told, that last part made me chuckle out loud. If you know a mama like that, be forewarned that she is most likely sharing only the good. None of us are that good all the time! I've had to remind myself not to compare myself with her. Comparison is a thief of joy and is never fruitful for me or my children
But here's the truth: even if I could attain this perfect mama status, I would need a hefty dose...and then some!...of God's grace. Because I've found out that I am weak. I cannot do any of this in my own power. I don't want to! I truly do not want to attempt any parenting without the love and help of God. I have made an absolute mess of things, as a mama, plenty of times by disobeying his word or not following his example. But I know that I can come back to his truth and example, and try again. He has given me grace a thousand times over. So while it's possible that I may always dream of a better version of me, I hope that my kids remember God's grace and love when they think of their childhood and when they think of their mama. This would mean that his grace was certainly sufficient in my life and in our home.
My favorite beatitude has always been Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:3 When I think of poor, I think of helpless. No, I have not done an inductive Greek study of this particular passage. But it has encouraged me more times than I can recount. I have been reminded that when I am helpless, only God can get me through. I want that dependence on him, no matter how uncomfortable it always is. He has given me and my husband five little lives to shepherd...and they daily bring me to my knees, dependent on his strength. I don't always love the feeling, quite honestly, but I would not want to have it any other way than finding myself helpless and in need of God's power and grace to get me through.
In a book I'm slowly reading, I read a few sentences that brought tears to my eyes as I identified with the author. To preface the quote, she was having a moment complaining to God about her feelings of inadequacy and lack of beauty or charm. I pictured how I so often feel as a mama. This is what God impressed upon her heart:
If I'd made you physically beautiful, you'd be admired. If I'd made you with showy talent, you'd be held in awe. If I'd birthed you to a wealthy family, you'd be envied. If I'd given you exceptional intellect, you'd be relegated to ivory towers. [If I'd made you a Pinterest-perfect, soft-spoken, patient and solely wise mama, you'd never depend on me to mother.] Instead, [Stephanie], I made you a bit lumpy, gave you an unexceptional face, commonplace capabilities, unremarkable talents, [average mama-abilities]. You see, for the good works I prepared in advance for you to do, I needed an average, ordinary woman to [parent with grace and] identify with a great many others just like you.*I took some liberty with the quote, but it spoke to my heart. God encouraged me to remember that he never intended me to do this mama-thing alone. It was never his plan for me to have perfect reactions, words, and insights all the time. When would I need him if that is how I mothered? Maybe you feel desperately in need of his power and grace in your parenting. Or maybe in another area. I think we all do in some area of our life at any given moment...if we're honest with ourselves. His all-sufficient grace is there. He gives us exactly how much we need every time we ask.
*quote from Carole Mayhall, When God Whispers: Glimpses of an Extraordinary God By an Ordinary Woman
I'm Having Coffee For Your Heart with my friend Holley Gerth today