Nothing humbles us quite like motherhood, I think. You don’t know just how sinful you are until you actually have to serve and love others 24/7.
You don’t realize just how ugly your sins are until you see them unvarnished in your toddler – or teen. When you live alone or with one likeminded adult, you can get along without rubbing one another the wrong way, at least some of the time.
You can arrange your life to avoid friction and stay comfortable. Not so as a mother. As a mother, there is no avoiding friction, frustration, and failure, try as we may.
We didn’t think we’d be the kind of mother who would yell, yet we find ourselves frustrated and yelling. We thought we’d be the kind of mother who would only say encouraging things, yet we find fault and nitpick.
We think we’d be the kind of mother who can handle things just fine thankyouverymuch.
Then we find we aren’t.
So we might think that motherhood brings out the worst in us, but the truth is that it is simply bringing out the reality that was there all along. Previously, we’d just managed to hide from view.
Our sin is like the flakes in a snow globe. We’re the globe, and when we sit on the shelf, unshaken, isolated, alone, peaceful – everything looks calm and fine. We like it that way.
Shake us up and suddenly there’s a terrible blizzard – where did that come from?
It did not come from the shaking. The shaking only showed what was already there, but hiding. The apparent calm was not the reality of our condition.
It’s only when our true, real, unvarnished faults are revealed that we can actually begin dealing with them rather than merely hiding and avoiding them.
The shaking is always a blessing in disguise, a favor God gives us so we can see and confess and receive forgiveness and sanctification for our sin that was ours all along – not brought on by other people or our circumstances.
We don’t get more holiness and more true peace and love by being undisturbed and alone. God puts us in families – home families extended families and church families – for our good. A child is another rock in the tumbler of life along with husband and wife.
Yes, there will be more stories, more cuteness, more love, but there will also be more friction – and the polishing of each rock comes through the friction, just as gold is refined in the fire.
Nothing humbles us quite like motherhood.
It is not until we are put to the test that we realize just how little patience, kindness, and love we have. It turns out, no one is patient enough to be a mother.
But that doesn’t mean that we’re off the hook, that we don’t have to because we don’t have what it takes.
There’s no getting off the hook for being patient and kind. There’s no getting off the hook for showing love, especially to our own husbands and children.
Being aware that we don’t have the love and patience we need is the first good step that must be taken. If we step into motherhood thinking, “Oh, I’ve got this.” then we’re simply stepping out with large stride – straight onto that banana peel, and the results will be inevitable.
We will, eventually, land in a place where we say, “I do not have what it takes to do this thing I’m supposed to do.”
Ask me how I know. I have anecdotes, including the time I told a child to stop arguing by stomping my foot at him or the time I realized I’d done every one of the items I listed at 12 as “Things I Won’t Do When I’m the Mom.”
Of course, nothing makes you realize that you don’t have what it takes like sleep deprivation.
My second son was a terrible sleeper. So while pregnant with my third, I read the best baby sleep books and learned a lot. Said third baby slept beautifully and totally by the book. Obviously, I’d figured a thing or two out by kid #3. As one would expect, right?
So God kindly gave me #4, who woke up every two to four hours until he was about 8 months old, until I said, “Nevermind, I don’t know anything. I just need enough grace to get through today.”
That’s right where we are supposed to be.
Mama, you are not enough. Mama, you don’t got this. There is no way that we’ve got this.
But God does. And it is His good favor and His kindness to us that brings us to the point where we see that we do not have what it takes, that we are failing, that we have insurmountable faults, that we are inadequate.
We are supposed to begin there – not so that we give up, but so that we give over, surrender, our own ways, our own sense of control, our own confidence in ourselves. We give all these over to Jesus.
We are not enough and don’t ever let anyone try to tell you that you are.
We are inadequate, chipped and broken vessels. But we are vessels created by God for His purposes. He is the owner, the potter, the Creator. Jesus is the Savior, the strength; He is the enough.
He is the one who has already fulfilled all righteousness and gives from His overflow to us. The Holy Spirit is the one working sanctification in our hearts that we might abound in every good work, abound in His fruits, which include patience and kindness and love and joy in our sanctification, in our shaken up snow globe life that allows our sin to be seen, felt, repented of, forgiven, cleaned out.
We don’t manufacture the patience we need. We are given the patience we need by the Holy Spirit through the gospel, which we need every single moment of every single day.
Nothing humbles us quite like motherhood, quite like being called to love and serve other humans 24/7.
Noticing and repenting of our sin requires humility. It requires stepping out in faith – knowing we don’t have what it takes and we are not enough, but trusting that Jesus does and Jesus is and that it is His good pleasure to work in us that which is pleasing in His sight.
We don’t do our best to parent well so that God will bless our efforts, but we do our best to parent well because God parents us well, because he has blessed us already with the ability to glorify him in the world.
When we confess our sins, he is faithful to forgive. When we receive forgiveness, we also receive the ability and desire to walk in grateful obedience. The grace we need to walk humbly with our God as mothers is on the other side of the door marked ‘Repent.’
Rejoicing follows repentance because conviction, repentance, and restoration is the Spirit’s work. He brings his fruit along as a refreshing reward – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control.
Being humbled and living in repentance does not mean living in perpetual guilt or woe-is-me introspection; it is faithfulness, it is obedience, it is listening to and believing God rather than ourselves and how we may feel.
When we are quick to repent, we are quick to receive forgiveness, and so we we are not afraid to be proven wrong or found wanting. Instead, we’re relieved to know the path forward: repent, receive forgiveness, rejoice. Repeat.
The gospel is the good news of God’s promise that he gives us forgiveness of our sins and eternal life with him by grace alone because of Christ’s one sacrifice accomplished on the cross.
Every day, each one of us, parents and children, need that gospel promise applied. Every day we sin against one another and against God.
So every day we respond to the Holy Spirit’s conviction of sin with repentance, receive Christ’s atoning forgiveness, and walk in the Spirit’s comfort and joy.