We’ve all likely registered for baby items that turned out to be non-essentials—those cute, but ultimately unhelpful, items we didn’t really need. We can do the same thing in our parenting process; what do we truly need to raise children up in the Lord?
We all crave comfort. Comfort food, comfort zones, comfy clothes, comfortable jobs. Our decisions are often motivated by a desire to mitigate distress, discomfort, or inconvenience. Being comfortable isn’t always a bad thing. It can be one way God demonstrates his grace to people.
The privilege of Christian motherhood has challenged my notions of comfortable living in full force.
It’s uncomfortable as our bodies are broken for the sake of another’s welfare through pregnancy, delivery, feeding, & sleeplessness. It’s not easy consistently training up our children in the way they should go through fights over food & school work, tantrums & unwise choices. It’s humbling to tell our young ones about the mighty deeds of God & then display gospel-kindness when faced with their rebellion.
Yet we pray, forbear, & show mercy because God, in Christ, forgave us. There’s no ease on this battleground because it’s a 24/7 job.
...This role is rife with opportunities to image what God is like in his self-sacrificing, nurturing, & life-sustaining attributes. In God’s supreme design, mothers were made to image him in unique ways to our families, in our churches, at work, in the community, to ‘the authorities & the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.’ (Eph. 6:12)
This sometimes-uncomfortable work of mothering draws our attention to our need for the great shepherd’s comfort. Only his rod & staff can give us a lasting sense of safety in hard places.
Just like we wean our children from milk to solid food, the God of all comfort weans us from a taste for only physical comfort to delight in the divine comfort of his everlasting presence. Knowledge of his presence drives us to joyfully live an uncomfortable life for God’s glory. As we share abundantly in Christ’s suffering, we share in his comfort too.
Dear sisters, when tempted to begrudge the costly & uncomfortable work of mothering, let’s remember Jesus went before us. His joyful obedience in hard things accomplished our redemption & adoption & will result in our resurrection one glorious day.
‘Mom, I was calling for you very quietly. It was hard to wait, so I prayed.’
Are the endless repetitions of prayers and practicing and talking really registering with her? Many times we’ve prayed with her to ask Jesus to help her obey, be kind, calm down. In this one instance, she took the initiative to do this on her own.
And my daughter’s childlike faith encouraged my own heart as well. It caused me to ask myself, ‘When I get frustrated or angry or impatient, do I invite him to help me and do I believe he will? Do I believe that when things are hard, he really does love to help me?’
Jesus told his disciples he would send the Holy Spirit to be their “Helper.” Jesus knows life is difficult, and he doesn’t intend for us to do it alone. The Holy Spirit can be present with, minister to, and help every believer as they have need.
In the flurry of life, we often go about our own ways, thinking we’re doing things for Jesus when really he wants to do things with us. It’s his pleasure and desire to counsel, advise, and walk with us step-by-step, even in the things that feel mundane or insignificant.
This is a precious, treasured reminder that the seeds we sow in our children matter, and Jesus desires to help us in every moment.
So this morning, I sat with my journal and listed all the things bearing down on me. The anxiety didn’t fully disappear, but there’s comfort knowing Jesus is with me in it.
This whole experience feels full circle.
We model the practice of seeking Jesus and asking him for his help to our little ones, over and over again. Then, when they do it on their own, we’re encouraged and our faith takes the example to heart. When we model relationship with Jesus for our little ones, there is truly power, for them and for us.
He is our helper, he is near, and he desires to walk with us every step of the way, every moment of the day.
“I looked at my husband across the couch and heard myself say, ‘I’m tired of blowing it, of sinning the same way over and over again with our kids. Can’t I trade this in for another sin or something?!’
Ever since I can remember, I’ve fallen into what some have called the ‘performance trap,’ setting standards for what it means to be a good friend, a good student, a good wife, a good mom, even a good Christian.
But having young kids exposed my sin again and again. It felt impossible to ‘perform’ in this role, to hit the benchmark I had in my head of what a good, Christian mom should look like. I’d hold it together for awhile, but eventually I’d totally blow it. Feeling terrible, I’d apologize profusely to the kids and try to make it up to them. Then, I’d pull up my proverbial bootstraps and determine to do better next time. But, inevitably, I’d blow it again. And the cycle of sin and shame and ‘trying harder’ would repeat.
Sometimes, when I felt really frustrated and defeated, I wanted to give up and declare: “This is just part of my personality, and parenting is so hard!”
But this is not the gospel!
In his mercy, God repeatedly brought me to a point of desperation. God helped me realize that no amount of staring at my sin, or beating myself up, or ‘trying harder; would ever help me hit that standard.
God taught me to fix my eyes on Christ, who already fixed his eyes on me in love.
In Christ, we meet God’s standard.
In Christ, we’re free from the condemning power of sin.
In Christ, we’re free from the enslaving power of sin.
In Christ, we still struggle with the presence of sin.
In Christ, we never outgrow the gospel.
Our journeys in motherhood aren’t over. Though we’re growing, we’ll still blow it. But we can ask our kids for forgiveness and point them not to a perfect mom, but to a perfect Savior.
We can walk in the good work of motherhood in an attitude of worship, resting, and rejoicing in the undeserved friendship of Jesus and point our children to the same.”