More than Failure

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I wasn’t a very good mom yesterday.

I lost patience. I yelled. I bribed. I begged.

I wasn’t a very good mom.

Years ago, my vision for my life as a stay-at-home mom did not involve losing patience and yelling. When I dreamed of my years at home with my kids, I unrealistically imagined a woman who effortlessly poured life into her family each day, floating around the house with an angelic glow, as I spread Christ’s love like glitter. I never lost my patience, and I most certainly never yelled.

20180730_120402My visions of my future often display a more perfect, more put-together, more Christ-like woman than the authentic me–the me who feels like at least one wheel is always falling off, the me who is often scrambling, often frazzled, and literally never has any clue what she is going to feed her family at suppertime.

When I sat down with my Bible today, I read about Jephthah, the son of a harlot who was cast out of Israel. Years later, after living as an outcast, he was used in unimaginable ways by the Lord. God has a way of doing that–using the most imperfect people for His perfect plan.

As I read about Jephthah, I realized that like him, I am only human. I do not have an endless supply of patience, nor do I have an endless supply of flawless parenting strategies. Sometimes I just run out of ideas for how to make my toddler behave, and the irony is that my toddler never runs out of ideas for how to pick at my patience.

What bothered me about the way I behaved toward my children yesterday was that I was far from displaying to them the love of Christ. I was short with them. I ignored their requests to play. I begged them to be quiet so I could rest. Christ was no more in me yesterday than was Santa Claus.

I just simply failed. I failed my children, therefore failing my husband–but most of all– I failed God.

Wrong.

It is this guilt that Satan would like me to grab hold of and believe. It is this kind of guilt that I believe the mainstream media refers to as “mom guilt.”20180724_161607

God does not expect me to be a perfect mom, nor does my husband, nor do my kids. As I fought to maintain some level of humanness on a particularly long and tiresome day yesterday, God saw me. He saw me fight to remain calm while my toddler refused to nap. He saw me sigh in desperation as I pulled out nearly every snack from the pantry, just trying to find one that might appease my 18-month old. He saw me throw up my hands and walk away from two little boys who may as well have had their ears removed, due to their complete lack of listening skills.

God always sees me. He saw my desperation yesterday, my frustration, and my sin.

On these days, when I crawl into bed at night feeling like an utter failure, one word is on my heart: grace.

God extended an abundant amount of grace to me yesterday. He showered me with His love, despite my failures. It is this grace that allowed me to begin a new day today, with yesterday far from my mind. It is this grace that allows me to shower my children with love, despite their failures.

As a mom who strives to invite Christ into her home on a daily basis, I know that I can trust God to find a way in, even when I don’t feel like I “impressed” Him. Even on the most difficult days, I can trust that Jesus is still very much present within me. It may not have been quite as obvious to me yesterday, but Jesus has a way of getting around our guilt and our sin and shining out of us anyway.

20180629_142702It is an unbelievable weight off my shoulders when I realize the love of Christ undoes all my sin. In the many areas that I fall short as a mother, He fills the void. On the days I feel more like a tyrant than a mother, He offers me grace so that I may begin another day, and displays His love to my children anyway.

Yesterday I was tired, but Jesus was still my Savior, and His forgiveness is still mine to take. What an relief!

God does not command us to be Christ-like so we can feel guilty when we fail. Even on my best and brightest days, when I feel like my best self, when I feel like I conquered motherhood perfectly, I am still light years away from reflecting the perfection that is Jesus. And so I will view my failures yesterday as a blessing, for they humbled me and again reminded me of my inescapable need for the love and grace of my Savior.  

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The Heart of a Sinner

In high school I had a friend with very low self-esteem. She always pointed out her accomplishments and waited to be complimented—your standard fisherman of compliments. Even as a teenager, I knew low self-esteem was her problem. I saw that she was broken, but still, I chose not to love her. When she would start drawing attention to her greatness, I would do just about everything but compliment her. I have never been able to embrace a boastful person. I would avoid eye contact with her, change the subject, pretend I didn’t hear—all because I did not think a person as arrogant as her deserved to be praised. The irony here, however, is that this friend of mine was not arrogant. She was anything but arrogant.

fishing-164977_1280Over ten years later, I am an adult—a wife, a mom, and a daughter of the King. However, boastfulness and arrogance still crawl under my skin more skillfully than any other sin. I can’t stand a boastful person. Being in the presence of one causes me to start locating the exits. I want nothing to do with arrogance.

Boastfulness is certainly a sin. God says in Matthew 6:1-2, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.” Then in James 4:6, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

Seeking validation from anyone but God means we care more for this world than for Him. However, our human nature causes us to crave praise from just about everyone. Some of us seek it more fervently than others, but we are all boastful—small, insecure beings who want someone to notice how fantastic we are. Even though God commands us to not be part of this world, the world’s praises is the very thing many of us desire the most.

Recently in a conversation with an overtly boastful person, God began to heal my own brokenness. As I visited with this person, trying so hard to love her and acknowledge her accomplishments (hating every minute of it), I began to realize that despite the sins and worldly desires of this woman, I, too, was in need of God’s grace. I sat there in judgment of this woman because of her sin, never considering that my inability to embrace her was my sin, equal to her boastfulness. As I judged and ridiculed the heart of a boaster, God revealed the sins of my own heart. Let me worry about her heart, Tara, you must take care of your own.sunrise-1756274_1920

By God’s grace, my next encounter with a self-conscious person who seeks my approval and praise, will be one where I exhibit the love of Christ. Because this person’s sins are not greater than my own, I will not condemn them nor despise them, but love them.

“He replied, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.’” ~Luke 11:28

A Mutating Perspective

I knew the second I snuggled into my couch to write this blog, my infant would wake up, as if babies have some sort of sonar for a mother relaxing. I would then stare deep into his screaming face, begging him to stop screaming, for lately, it seems as though my infant is always screaming.

 

I visited with my mom about my frustrations this morning.

 

“It’s like they are doing it on purpose. As soon as one is quiet, the other has a problem. I am so tired. I just want to take a 10-minute nap.”

 

Perhaps she was using her infinite wisdom, or maybe just her brutal honesty, when she responded, “They’re just kids. It’s what they do.”

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Wow. Um… Thanks for the sympathy?

 

I think back to my conversations at church last night, while I ranted and raved about my little non-sleeper.

 

I joked, “My husband and I just don’t make babies who sleep.”

 

I complained, “I just want to sleep in my bed for once.”

 

I bartered, “I would do anything to get this baby to sleep.”

 

I think what I was really doing was searching for someone, anyone who would understand.

 

Because with this second baby I feel as though I am facing yet another year of lonely, dark, long nights, my frustration has been building, as my patience has been dwindling.

 

20170213_102153I think back to last night, up every 20 minutes with my little one. This was of course after making sure my husband felt as guilty as possible for leaving me to tend to our child alone while he got a restful night sleep, as if it is his fault our baby has colic.

 

I pleaded with God constantly throughout the night, “Please, please, please just give me one kid who sleeps. Show me what I need to do to make him sleep. Why me? Why me? Why me?”

 

And now, even as I write this, God has given me His answer. He has convicted me, and He’s not holding back.

 

I am not a victim.

 

I am a mother.

 

I am not a martyr.

 

I am a mother.

 

I am not alone.

 

I am amongst many who have lived it and many who are living it.

 

Wow. Um… Thanks for the sympathy?

 

Perspective is an important thing to maintain in motherhood. It is so easy to lose sight of what matters when we are sleep deprived and our nerves are raw. It is so easy to begin to look at our little miracles as if they are a curse, rather than a blessing.

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However, there is one thing that is truly beautiful about all this: God’s forgiveness and grace. When I fail and become a selfish woman rather than a selfless mother, my Father (He may even use my mom) will never fail to scoop me back up, show me the beauty that is in my children’s faces, and remind me that it is not about me. It is about Him and His children, who He has entrusted to me and my husband.

 

With a Godly perspective like that one, I think I can get through a few more sleepless nights.