Nothing brings a woman to her knees quite like motherhood. I am a firm believer that children are an affirmation of God’s love for us. They are also an affirmation of how inadequate we are, that we are not in control and that without God we are wretched souls. I am learning this the hard way – over and over again.
Honestly, being a mother is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’ve never experienced anything that can give me joyful elation one minute but then have me hiding in my bathroom crying in helplessness the next. As I type this, my four-year-old is throwing a tantrum because she isn’t getting her way. It’s moments like these where it is abundantly clear that without the grace of God, my flesh will get the best of me. “Patience is a virtue” my own mother would always recite to me growing up. Yeah, I’d think, one that I don’t have.
Why can’t they just behave?
Why can’t they just do what I say?
Why do they have to be this frustrating?
Lord, if You appreciate irony, I am sure You get a kick out of me daily.
I never question God’s motives. Or His discipline. Or His will for my life. I never throw a tantrum because life isn’t going my way.
Oh wait. Yes, yes I do. In all my childish impatience and petulance, I certainly do.
As a mother of four children under the age of 8, friends and acquaintances are constantly commending me on my patience. Ya’ll, I am here to tell you that I don’t possess one ounce of patience that the Lord doesn’t give me. Zilch. And if I’m being completely honest, patience is the one fruit of the Spirit that I struggle with the most. It is not within my natural inclinations to forbear the weakness of others or give grace in unpleasant situations – which happens to be a good portion of motherhood. In fact, aside from love, I would argue that grace is the most important thing we can give our children and it’s what I fail at the most!
How is it that a recipient of God’s saving and abundant grace can have such a hard time giving grace to her own children?
Because I am weak – in every aspect of myself.
God told the apostle Paul “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness” (2. Cor. 12:9). Paul responded with gladness, boasting about his weaknesses so that the power of Christ may dwell within him. He responded with contentedness regarding his weaknesses and struggles.
Lord, forgive me, because I am constantly grumbling about my own.
I have four healthy, happy, beautiful children who are full of energy, wonder and love. Most of my best memories involve them – but so do some of my worst. I am never reminded of how weak I am in my own strength than when I try to rear them up without the Lord’s will in mind. I am never reminded more of
my own sinfulness than when I try to point out the sins of my children. But more than anything, I am never reminded more of the love and grace God shows me than when I fail to give it to my children. I constantly fail at being a loving mother, but He never fails at being a loving Father. It’s these moments that compel me to respond with gladness and thankfulness of His transforming power, the kind of power that lovingly reminds me to show grace because of all the grace that has been shown to me. It’s in these moments that I am compelled to hand it over to God and be obedient to His will by showing grace and love when I least want to.
As I grow older, I have come to realize that prayer needs to be my constant companion when it comes to adjusting my attitude and my habits as a parent. And in the times when I succeed at showing mercy over justice, patience over anger I know it is Christ within me and not of myself and I praise Him for His power. As I lay my burdens and weaknesses at His feet and invite Him to come change me, He does, and He does so most faithfully. And even in the times where He doesn’t see fit to take the burden just yet, like Paul’s thorn was not taken from him, I rest in the knowledge that He will sustain me. In this He is glorified and that is something I can boast about – Christ in me and for me!