Try Not to Be So Hard On Yourself

cup of coffee heart.jpeg

..If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit." -Galatians 5:25

Summer is rushing to a close and I find myself with three adult children gathering here on a short reprieve and Sarah and Thomas will soon be here to celebrate Family Day. I wish I could say that now that my family is older, we are always mature and all of our issues have gone away. Yet, I am still an imperfect mama, personality differences still exist and cause occasional clashes, my different child still has different issues, and our strengths are still our strengths and our weakness still attend to our moments each day. I still want harmony all the time as one of my highest values is for everyone to love each other. And yet, still my home has a tension between my ideals and my reality. 

I realized long ago that if I didn't cultivate happiness through each day, I would never be happy. If I waited until all of my family were more mature, I might be waiting until Jesus comes back. The reality of living in a fallen world means that I must adjust my expectations to a fallen world or I will always be disappointed.

As godly mothers, we strive to make the best possible decisions, set the perfect boundaries, and have the correct rules that we believe will somehow cultivate "spiritual" children. However, we can't by sheer force or the right rules or the right devotional curriculum make our children spiritual.

That being said, there is a mysterious process by which the Holy Spirit leads our children to see their need for Christ as we seek to cultivate their hearts. But it is entirely led by grace, informed by love, and carried out by the help of the Holy Spirit.

We are putting so much pressure on ourselves as mothers that God would never expect. Each time we find ourselves too busy to cook (so we opt for fast food), too exhausted to clean, so we leave dishes till tomorrow, or we have such a  hectic schedule that we didn't do a devotional with our children one week, we feel absolutely defeated and believe that we somehow failed our children.

Often, I receive comments or letters from mamas who say, "How did you seek joy? How did you manage to live by faith?" And then they will tell me the very difficult circumstances or exhaustion or loss of job or marriage problem.....

The grace of God is given in spite of our circumstances, his peace comes when our difficulties would suggest otherwise.

 When we cast our burdens on God because we cannot handle them or when we choose to exercise joy because we know,"in His presence is fullness of joy," or when with our inadequacies in all areas are filled in by the invisible grace of His own doing, we always have hope and reason to be at peace.

While it is incredibly wonderful to set our standards high and live within these great ideals, we must hold ourselves to a standard of grace, not perfection. We won't be able to have grace for our children if we do not have grace ourselves. Galatians 5:1 tells us that, "It was for freedom that Christ set us free, therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery." Are there any ways in your life as a mom that you are trying to live up to the false expectations of others?

In my home, we did our best, but our best was certainly not perfection. We just had committed hearts toward our kids and the desire to shape their souls to respond passionately to their Creator. He came with grace and truth to bring life and wholeness into our hearts. We strive to follow His example in front of our children. We are not guided by culture, or what other moms feel is the "right way", but we are led by God. We walk in the power of the Holy Spirit and rest in His grace. This is the secret of seeing God's grace each day--living within our limitations with a heart joy knowing we are accepted by God and expecting Him to fill in the cracks and make our faith work enough to raise healthy children.

And now, I am committing the days when all of my adult kids will be home into God's hands. I am asking Him to give them a foundational love and graciousness towards one another in spite of the differing opinions, the offenses that will take place, the imperfections they will witness in their parents. :)

God is my hope when I am out of control. He is my prayer-answerer when I am beyond my own strength. I live practicing joy because He is my audience and I want to rest in Him because He wants to be my adequacy.

And that is ultimately what I want my children to see--not my perfection, but my running to Him, living In His grace, loving Him in the midst of the muddles of life, so that they will know how to live when they are seeking to raise a family amidst the fallenness of their own lives and their own world. .