I’ll never forget the day I resigned from the admin job I worked during my children’s naps. I knew this was the best decision for my family, but I felt incredible shame for not measuring up to the kind of mother I wanted to be, the kind of mother who “believed she could so she did,” the kind of mother who seemed to be able to do it all.
And even after the decision was final, something ugly began to sprout in my heart: a subtle contempt for women who made different choices.
It hurts even to admit this.
As moms, it’s easy to judge one another for the decisions we make for ourselves and our families. We judge one another for staying home, for going back to work, for working a business from home, for having more children, for not having enough children, and the list goes on. Often the judgment emerges through the subtle parading of one's own choice or through the promoting of women who seem to be able to do it all.
One thing I'm learning is that sometimes this judgment is really a symptom of shame. When I'm the most judgmental of other moms or the most prideful about my choices, it's usually a way to hide my shame. I'm afraid that embracing the choices of others will confirm I’m not enough for my children, my husband, my church, or my community. Rather than celebrating others’ successes and learning from them, I envy them and find reasons to judge them in my heart.
In Psalm 16:6, David states the boundary lines have fallen for him in pleasant places. In other words, he’s content with the sovereign will and grace of God in his life. When I envy others, I'm discontent with my boundary lines. I desire the boundary lines of another. This robs me of the ability to enjoy the life God has given me, trusting him and obeying him with all that I have.
How grateful I am that I belong to the gracious, loving God of the universe! Even if I don't always recognize it, the boundary lines have fallen for me in just the right places. My limitations are good because they keep me looking to him—the only one who is truly good and worthy of my worship. When I spiral down into patterns of sin and shame, he’s faithful to convict me by his Spirit and help me look away from myself, away from other mommas, and up to my Savior. He helps me turn away from setting my mind on things of the flesh, like ungodly competition, and set my mind on things of the Spirit.
This means that day after day he helps us to choose him over lesser identities, like mom boss, career woman, or stay-at-home mom.
Here’s truth, friend: You’re not woman enough on your own. Sin and human frailty robs us of that luxury. However, God isn’t looking for us to be enough. He's looking for us to believe that he’s enough, and he often uses our weaknesses and shortcomings to help us to that end.
This is the beauty of the gospel we proclaim: Sin no longer has power over us, which means there’s freedom from the downward spiral of shame, judgment, and isolation. This is why it’s so important that we preach the gospel to ourselves every day. Jesus dealt with sin and shame on the cross. When we remember Jesus, we break the cycle of shame. Instead of obsessing over our deficiencies, we glory in his sufficiency.
When you find yourself clinging to a certain “right way” of motherhood, finding your identity in that label, the best thing to do is repent. Take your feelings of shame to God and let him show you that your limitations are a blessing. The boundary lines have fallen for you in pleasant places. The life he’s given you is a good one because he’s redeemed it. And he’s enough.
No matter what our career choices are, grace enables each one of us to labor for the same thing: persevering faith in Christ alone. This is our holy endeavor. We seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness right where we are. We abide in the Lord and bear fruit one day at a time. As stay-at-home moms, work-at-home moms, career moms, missionary moms, entrepreneur moms, we love God and neighbor by the abundant grace of God. We mother unto the Lord. We keep our homes unto the Lord. We work our businesses unto the Lord. We minister to others as unto the Lord. Whatever we do, we do for his glory and his glory alone.
So we can cheer each other on in the process. Instead of judging one another, we’re for one another. Instead of isolating ourselves in shame for not being enough, we move towards one another and remind each other of the only One who does measure up. He’s more than enough.
Laura Hardin and her husband, Adam, reside in Landover, MD with their two little ones, Oscar and Laurielle. She enjoys writing for her personal blog, where she encourages women to abide in Christ by committing themselves to the word of God, prayer, and fellowship one day at a time. Find her on Instagram or Facebook.
1 Cor. 12:9