There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Romans 8: 1
I am so thankful for your blog and podcast, and your books have been such a blessing in my life. I consider you my mentor though you do not know me personally. I’m sure this is the wrong “forum” to ask a question, and if you do not respond I understand. But I dare to ask anyway.
What do you do when your life doesn’t come close to how you believe it should look?
I read your words and I’m thankful for the vision you cast. But for some time the vision I have for my home seems so far from my reality and I have no idea how to reconcile the two, even in my mind. Discouragement and frustration have started to seep in.
As a mama of three little boys, a homeschool mother, and a pastor’s wife, I don’t believe there is enough of me to go around and I’m starting to feel like I can’t even cover the basics, much less enjoy the riches of this season. I’m sure this is just part of the journey and a part of life that every wife and mother must face, but I don’t want to end up taking the wrong path because I gave up hope for the best.
I feel guilty for more and more things – what I cook (or don’t cook), allowing my children too watch TV too much or play the Wii too long, not teaching them well or enough or the right things, not keeping up with just the daily things that make a house run, letting down those that I love most. Is there a way to hit the reset button and just start over once you’ve allowed habits to form in yourself and your children that you don’t like? I believe God’s grace is enough. And I value wisdom from those I know have walked this path and stayed on course."
There are so many issues to address in this letter. Raising children without in house support systems is often messy, demanding and overwhelming. I learned that that was in some ways normal life for a mama. So one part of life is accepting that it will always be demanding, it is a long distance race and that the process of growing up doesn't always look neat.
Countless times, I felt like I was not accomplishing anything productive. This is such a hard job, to love, educate and help shape our children's faith. It is especially challenging in a culture that offers so much differing advice that brings voices into our heads, which then that produces guilt and inadequacy. This same culture is isolationist and provides few support systems or Biblical direction.
However, unless we learn to think rightly about ourselves, we will listen to the voices of condemnation and pay attention to the pointing fingers that say we are not enough and it will indeed influence how we live.
So many moms feel this way, but feelings do not necessarily determine reality! Not one of us will ever be perfect and we will all have voices that condemn us for different reasons. I have failed, I have a terrible past, I was abused, I am angry, I am lazy, I don't feel love in my heart for those in my home, and on and on.
The starting point for all of us, first of all, is to learn the habit of living in the reality of God's view of us, His very generous and gracious love for us at every moment and to avoid thoughts of condemnation, mess and all. I hope you will be encouraged by the podcast today, but I also am writing some truths that have helped me get back up when I have been going in a downward direction.
Five principles have helped me when I am overwhelmed.
1. Remember. God is with you to help you succeed.
"If God is for you, who can be against you." God is for you--for you. He wants you to succeed. He wants to work in your home. We are not adequate to complete the task of shaping our children's hearts, minds and souls by ourselves. When God's Spirit is working in our midst, He will take our fish and loaves, all that we have to give to Him, within our own limitations and together with Him, our labor becomes enough. I lived into this principle, asked God to make up for my shortcomings every day, and by faith lived as though what He promised was true. He is for you, mamas, if your heart is to serve Him. He has compassion on you, knows your weariness, and is your champion.
2. "There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Romans 8:1 There are always do-overs in God's economy. All of us mess up, (He is mindful that we are but dust! Psalm 103) Peter blew it royally when he denied Christ at his hour of need, but before he even sinned, Jesus knew what was going to happen, and told Peter he had prayed for him. Jesus had compassion before Peter had even committed the act of denying Christ.
I wonder why we have the illusion that we are supposed to be perfect. Mamas, don't be so hard on yourself and live within your limitations. You will not ever be perfect or do it totally right--not now, not next week, not even when you are 60! (Maybe when I am 70, I will be perfect1) And to live in guilt because you have blown it or yelled at your kids or made mistakes is a big drainer. Depression is often the result of disappointed expectations. And often we disappoint our ideals.
But this is the fallen world, and we will never be able to control ourselves, our circumstances, our children or the world the live in. We live in grace and move toward maturity little by little. And so do your children. I promise, little by little they will grow up.
And your children will never be perfect, either. Love them as they are. Believe in them, touch them. Let little boys be boys, as you train them little by little to be heroes and leaders--civilization comes from a mama who treats them with respect, and gives them a heart to be dignified.
Let little ones be innocent and enter into their stages of life with joy.
Living in the grace and knowledge that God forgives, knows our limitations, is not surprised or disappointed, but wanting to give us hope is so very crucial. Don't listen to the accusers voice. Of course you have fallen short--you are a mom and you are human.
I will continue this post in Part 2. Stay tuned and meanwhile, listen to the podcast!