As a child, I remember the countless times I said, “I wish my mom was…”. I often muttered those words after being the recipient of her critical comments and judging looks. I love my mother. Please don’t get me wrong. But I think we can all agree that moms are not perfect.
Some of you already know my story of how I gave up the gift of motherhood as a young woman. I didn’t know what I know now – that God is a merciful, loving, kind Father, that my family loved me despite my interpretations and self-loathing, and that they would have never rejected me. Ya, now I know this. I had been criticized so much as a child that when the consequences of a drunken night showed up on a stick, all I felt was fear, shame, and more fear. Fear of embarrassing my family that by my assumptions were already embarrassed by me. Fear of being rejected by them. And the fear of my baby’s father being forever tethered to me. Not just once, but three times I hit this wall headfirst. And yes, I regret my decisions. Oh Lord, it was awful, painful, despairing, and debilitating for so many years.
When I married my husband and was blessed with an instant family of my own, fear of rejection kicked in again. The enemy would remind me daily of how I had failed as a mother with horrible accusations that I dare not repeat. He cursed me as a woman and shamed me as unworthy of these two young men, their families, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, all of which I had never experienced. Satan wanted to ensure that I could not develop a relationship with these beautiful blessings by isolating me in my thoughts, shaming me, manipulating my emotions, and deceiving me with his lies.
Ladies, we do a pretty good job of beating ourselves up that we don’t need the devil to kick us while we are down, but he tries to. There is someone else in the picture with us: our shield and buckler, our strong tower, a fortress in whom we find shelter and strength – Jesus.
Jesus had forgiven me the moment I confessed my sin to him, without question, without condition, and with all his mercy and grace. He cleansed me and renewed my heart and spirit. Jesus, so overwhelmingly lovely, humble, kind, and compassionate, knew so well the shame and guilt I had been carrying for my choices and yet never rejected me. The truth is – he was with me through every painful decision and was fighting for me the whole time.
Moms, we all make mistakes and miss the mark. I had a friend who accidentally left her infant daughter in the car after pulling in the driveway. If it wasn’t for family asking where she was, it could have ended badly. Another girlfriend didn’t want to wake her sleeping newborn, so she left the house and made a quick run to the store only to have her car run out of gas. Ya, embarrassing and scary. And yet another friend forgot to lock the front door top chain, and her toddler walked out of the house while she was asleep on the couch. She thought he was napping. We searched for three hours until he was found safe.
And then there was the mom who was passed out on her couch after shooting up Heroin. Her toddler daughter walked out the front door and made her way onto a major avenue at the peak of rush hour traffic. I slammed on the brakes, jumped out of the car, and swooped her up in my arms taking her to the sidewalk. A city truck behind me called 911. The toddler pointed to her mother’s house, and as I approached the front door, the smell of garbage and animal urine was suffocating. Her mother was out cold in a pile of laundry. I think of them both to this day. God loves her too and has an endless supply of mercy for her, as he does for you and me.
I have learned through my time as trying to be a stepmom and failing on so many levels that, for me, being a mom is not a goal I achieve but a treasure entrusted to me. God is the One who created my family and knew each of them before I did. He knows them better than I ever could hope to. Knowing the immeasurable depth of his love for them and the plenty of mercy and grace for each of them, my efforts to win them over or prove myself worthy are futile and pointless.
Psalm 139:13-16 ESV, “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”
When I think of God knowing the number of hairs on our head and the great attention he gives to know the intimate details of every thought, motive, desire, struggle, sin, and his relentless love that drives his mercy and grace, it is not me I should be striving to win them over to – but God!
Psalm 127:3 NIV, “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.”
Moms are not meant to be perfect – Jesus is. And in acknowledging that part of our human nature is to miss the mark, accepting that we are learning as much as our children are learning, maybe we can cut ourselves some slack. Maybe we can trust God to help us love as he does, be merciful like he is, be generous like he is, and be forgiving as he is with us. Maybe, moms, we can point our children to the One who corrects our steps as we humbly seek him to correct ours.