In these still new-ish days of toddler-dom, I've found myself seeking counsel from other wise mommies around me. And Elise is one of the first friends and mommas that come to my heart. She is going to bless us all by sharing a three part series on grace-based mothering. I can't wait!
Elise and I were childhood buddies, way back when... I rode in the rear-facing seat in her family's station-wagon, ate all-natural peanut butter sandwiches at her home, tried my best to learn all of her siblings names, and spent many hours playing under the mimosa tree in her front yard. She has grown to be a woman of deep character and mommy of three since our carefree days of make-believe, and I think you will be so blessed by her wisdom.
After you read this game-changer, you can, and should, check out more of Elise's powerful writings on her blog, Redeeming the Days.
Many times on hard days, these words screech through my mind.
But I can't.
I am Mom, and there is no substitute.
The five month old needs me. The two year old needs me. The six year old needs me.
They need me for full tummies and clean bottoms. They need me to help them learn colors and numbers and state capitals and scriptures and table manners. They need me to play, and praise, and sing and dance with them. They need me to wipe away their tears and kiss their bruises and hug them long.
The need me to teach them how to share, and how to give generously, even sacrificially. They need me to look into their eyes, and smile in their sweet faces, when they are talking to me. They need me to teach them how to have a quiet time, how to maintain a routine, how to value making healthy choices for their God-temple bodies.
They need me to set the example of how to be patient. They need me to show them how to pray for the family of believers, our sponsor children, and those blind, deaf, lame and lost in darkness with discernment, but not judgement. They need me to discipline them, encourage and direct them. They need me to model the freedom of following God's commands. They need me show them grace.
They need. They need. They need.
And this Momma... she runs empty... as dry as a bone.
Isn't that when it comes? The relentless tidal wave wall of Momma-guilt?
I have nothing left to give... and it's only 10 a.m.!!
How in this broken world with this sin-bent soul can I extend grace to my ever-testing, ever-challenging, ever-spirit-sensitive-and-bad-habit-reflecting kids??
And this, this is the crux of the how??:
Grace only and always flows down out of the source of grace... Grace Himself.
And what greater gift is there than grace? It is gift of Grace that saves us.
It is critical to be able to share this grace with our children. So we must invest in our relationship with Grace.
For we can not give what we do not have.
Ah. More Momma-guilt.
How... in my crazy-busy life that ends at 2 a.m. and begins again by 7 a.m. and is utterly non-stop because my kiddos seem to tag-team to exhaust me... how can I find time, or energy, to invest in another relationship??... Even if it is with Grace.
And this, this is the crux of the how??:
We can not have what we do not accept.
My Mom tells me this often when we're visiting and I leak out a few words, just tiny drops of all the guilt and the I'm-never-done-and-there's-always-more-and-I-don't-have-anything-left-but-ugliness that's poisoning me inside... she tells me about what God told her as she was full time caring for a mentally-declining elderly Granny and was raising us nine crazy-challenging kids.
She tells me about how she was feeling so guilty for the things she struggled with on a daily basis when she compared her life and responsibilities to other woman around the world. Women who worked all day just to feed their kids crumbs. Women who had husbands who weren't supportive and loving like my Dad has always been. Women who raised special-needs children. Women who battled chronic illnesses.
She'd say: "I mean really... what were my daily stresses compared with what God had given other women? I would feel so weak... so guilty. I have it easy compared to so many others...
... but then, I kept hearing God encourage me...
'No! No... dying to yourself is always hard. Regardless of the specifics of what I ask you to lay down for Me... dying to yourself is dying to yourself.'"
I extend this grace to loved friends, family... even strangers. No matter what they are going through I do not belittle their struggles but acknowledge this truth that dying to yourself is indeed extremely hard and I encourage them towards Christ. But for myself... why this lack of understanding that sin is not on a scale and we are all equally needy?
And laying down this Momma-guilt and comparisons and nailing my pride to the cross of grace... this must be done so I can open my heart to Grace.
I must accept that grace is free. Not earned. Not deserved. No-strings-attached-free.
If I will not accept His grace for my weaknesses, and sins, and neediness... I will never have it to give to my children for theirs.
We can not give what we do not have, we can not have what we do not accept.
When your life is give, give, give to those who need, need, need... it can be very difficult to remember that it is okay to simply, gratefully, freely accept.
He is the perfect Father, who is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love Who never tires of meeting my needs. Who tells me over and over to ask, ask, ask so I can receive, receive, receive.
This is the lie that our enemy whispers that must be exposed: Time spent with God takes something good, or something we need, from us.
This is the truth we must embrace(and rejoice in!) : God doesn't need anything from me! In truth, it is a ridiculously, beautifully, miraculously lopsided relationship! He doesn't need anything from me... but He gives me everything. Life. Breath. Everything else.
In my next post I will share some thoughts on how an exhausted Momma can stay awake long enough to even be available to be loved on by the LORD.
In the post following I will share some thoughts on how to then extend the grace we have accepted and received to our desperately grace-needy children.