Grace > Striving
Post by Rachel Larson, of The Well Place
I am a mom of three little ones, and I haven’t even seen the trenches of preteen years or — I assume the more challenging — teen years, and yet I see my daily pitfalls as a mom that need so desperately to be covered by the hand of the Father. I can try to control the process, take the bull by the horns, and act like I can muscle (which really is more like stumbling) through it, or I can speak what is true.
The truth is that I, as a parent, am much more effective when I am found humbly at the feet of Jesus. When I am weak, He is made strong. When we run ourselves ragged, relentlessly striving and stubborn to do it all and be it all without Jesus and His grace, what happens? I know what happens for me — I hit that wall of “I’ve got nothing left to give,” and “I’m too exhausted to ‘adult’ right now,” which eventually leads to, “I’m a bad mom” or “I’m messing this up.” But, as soon as we can translate the shame of the stubborn “mom (or dad) boss” lifestyle, and melt into humility, somehow God’s grace overwhelms and picks up the pieces of where we fall short.
The other night, my husband and I had put the kids to bed and were sitting across from each other on the couch, exhausted. No phones on, no tv on, no actual conversation going on, just sitting and staring; exhausted. I finally snapped out of it, and confessed my feeling of disconnect with our kids, of feeling like the voice I had been using with them was not speaking life but discouragement, and that I felt like I was failing in this season of motherhood.
THIS WAS THE WALL.
I had been striving, pushing, pressing, and running from one parenting decision to the next. I found myself discipling one child, disciplining another, and changing diaper after diaper in that ruthless Groundhog Day lifestyle over and over again until this moment. Exhausted. Weak. Lonely. And this wasn’t the first time (obviously). All the while, the gift of Jesus walked beside me and all I had to do was reach out and hold His hand of grace.
My weakness gets swallowed up by His sea of grace. Every single time. As soon as I get off of the roller coaster ride that says I’m not enough, I need to push harder, do more and be better, it is almost like I get bucked off by the impending need for humility. It is humility that says I fall short and I cannot do it alone. It is in humility that sheds light brighter and brighter still on the glory that is God’s gift of grace.
I have yelled at my kids (gasp), I get distracted by housework or my phone, I am inconsistent with discipline, and sometimes I even feed them oatmeal for dinner. And all of these (and much more) find me in a spiral of beating myself up to only find myself choosing the option to just try harder. But what if I embraced and actually believed what it says in 2 Corinthians 12:9-11:
"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.”
What I have noticed and experienced in my own life is that when I humble myself to say “I just haven’t been cutting it, His grace seems to cover it, and is actually (like it says) sufficient. Parenting, no matter if we are in the depths of the terrible twos or throws of 13, is hard. And arguably still, the most challenging responsibility of our lifetime.
Why are we choosing to muscle through, when the gift of God’s sufficient grace is offered to us in our boasted weakness? Instead of stubbornly striving, walking out our parenthood in our own strength, and schlepping through the muck alone, let us grasp on to the hand of grace that Jesus is holding out for us. Let’s confess with our mouths first that we desperately need Jesus and His grace to wash over our families, our agendas, our children and our parenthood. And then let’s watch the hand of grace bring clarity and peace and direction, hope and a future worth having.