Early in our marriage, my husband frequently claimed that one of the reasons he married me was because he knew I would be a wonderful mother. I would just laugh and lovingly punch him in the shoulder…but deep down inside (even though I would never admit it to him or anyone else), I agreed. I was so confident that I would be a wonderful mother when God blessed us with children. How could I not be? It was going to come so naturally to someone like me who loved being around children (and taught them for a living).
Ten years and three precious kids later, I can’t go a day without feeling like I am completely failing as a mom. I lose my patience with our boys, talk in too harsh of a tone, whine about having to get up with the baby, and frequently get exasperated that nothing ever seems to go as planned.
I thought I would be better at mothering than I am, or at least feel better at it. This was supposed to be my time to shine. From the time that I was a little girl, I have always wanted, more than anything, to be a mother.
Instead, most days I feel completely inadequate and unprepared for the greatest ‘job’ of my life.
Perhaps I had too high of expectations for myself…I was blessed to be raised by an extraordinary mother (of five children, mind you) and I rarely remember her being stressed or exasperated with us. My mom is an amazing example of selfless love.
I came across a quote recently that completely captivated the inward struggle that has characterized the last seven years of my life as a mom:
“I thought parenting was going to portray my strengths, never realizing that God had ordained it to reveal my weaknesses.” -Dave Harvey
Becoming a mother has forced me to look into a very clear mirror…and see an honest reflection of the state of my heart. And what I’ve seen hasn’t been pretty…by any stretch of the imagination.
I see selfishness.
Being responsible for the lives of three precious babies has made me see how selfish I can be…with my time, my energy, and my Dr. Pepper! In addition to meeting the needs and desires of my husband and children, I also genuinely want to be thoughtful of others. An entire day might pass before I get over myself and think of what I can do to show love to someone else, including those in my own household!
I see self-centeredness.
Did you notice above how I thought motherhood would be my time to shine? Yes, God has been teaching me a thing or two about self-centeredness. As it turns out, the world really doesn’t revolve around me. Perhaps I should have taken that Astronomy class in college, after all!
I see pride.
I realize now how extremely prideful I have been in the past. This is probably the single greatest work that God has done on my heart since becoming a mother, although He certainly isn’t finished with me yet. God has used my feelings of inadequacy to humble me and make me realize how dependent I am on Him to meet my every need.
If motherhood has taught me anything, it has taught me that I can’t do it on my own. I am too weak. I am too selfish. I am too prideful. But I think God is using those feelings of inadequacy to draw me back to Him. I love this quote from the book Give Them Grace:
“It is a kindness when (God) strips us of self-reliance, because it is there, in our emptiness and brokenness, that we experience the privilege of his sustaining grace. It is only when we arrive at the dreaded place of weakness that we discover the surpassing power of Christ.” (p. 152)
Yes, I might feel like the biggest failure of all. But then again, that might just be the best thing that has ever happened to me. Because it is in my weakness that I can cling to the One is never weak. It is in my frustrations that I can cling to the One who is slow to anger and abounding in love. It is in my selfishness that I can cling to the One who willingly gave His own life for me.
I might not be perfect, but in my imperfections I can point my kids to the One who is.
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