"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me." - Galatians 2:20

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Friday, June 8, 2012

IF ONLY . . . BY GRACE ONLY

1 Corinthians 15:10 (NIV 1984)  "But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them - yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me."




She makes motherhood look so easy.  If only I could make dinners like her.  If only I disciplined my children with a graceful tongue and kept our home like hers' - ready for the white glove test. . . . If only.

Have you ever gone circles with voices in your head like these?  Many "If only" conversations have occurred in my mind.  One area it navigates is that of motherhood.

I've been a mom for twelve-and-a-half years. Boy, it's been a roller coaster of hairpin turns and unexpected trials, but also full of numerous blessings. Mothering is such an arduous job.  I have experienced days feeling so stressed because I cannot keep up with the demands of children, husband, home, family, and ministry.

The older I get the more relaxed I have become, but I haven't always been this way.  I'm still learning to let things go and be more flexible, but the change God has made in my heart is significant.

You see, many choices I made as a young mother were because I wanted to appear I had it all together, so others would notice how good I was as a mom. Part of this masquerade was due to the fallacies I allowed to take root in my heart which forced me to do things that weren't necessary. Another component was comparing myself to other moms and vowing to "Never let my kids _________ . "

For example, to be a Good Mother I must:
  • Always get the kids to bed on time.
  • Never serve my kids frozen foods full of phosphates and MSG.
  • Always nurse my boys a minimum of twelve months.
  • Keep a tidy house all the time and NEVER, I mean NEVER leave dirty dishes in the sink (God forbid!)
  • Cook dinner every night.
  • Lose the baby weight in no less than three months.
  • Potty train by 2 1/2 or receive the "Loser Mom" award of the year.
  • Exercise five days a week.
  • Make homemade cookies at the least once a week.
  • Don't let the laundry pile over the basket.
  • Make the beds everyday.
  • Deep clean every room every week: vacuum, dust, scrub etc.
  • Keep the family vehicle spotless (so as not to appear we even have children).
Alright, enough confessions from my overkill life. I'm a recovering perfectionist. Yes, I was disciplined and organized, but too a fault. I masked the pain of people's assumptions and wanted to look sooo good so they wouldn't have a reason to think I was a slacker mom sitting on the couch with a bag a chips! (Doesn't that sound good right about now? :) ).

Why do we fall prey to these lies as mothers? 

Many times it is due to our insecurities. We think it's easier to keep up on the outside and if we do, then we appear "all is good". When in truth, the more we focus on the internal, the easier the external is manifested.  We should be more concerned with what produces the fruit than the fruit itself.  

Another reason we succumb to these deceptions is because we don't understand who we are in Christ and that by His grace we are what we are.  1 Corinthians 15:10 reminds us of this truth. Paul concludes that God's grace affected his life as an apostle. Paul accepted who He was in Christ, by God's grace.  

Not to minimize the spiritual depth of this verse, but when we truly understand the grace Christ gives and who we are in Him, this overflows into all areas of our lives, including motherhood.  Being a mom is a high calling and we use the grace God gives us to be the moms He intends us to be.  We are moms by the grace of God.

His grace is enough:

  • during sleepless nights, 
  • cranky behaviors, 
  • sick kids, 
  • tween-age hormones,
  • urine soaked sheets, 
  • dirty toilets and 
  • microwave dinners.
By the grace of God, a mother's toil and labor is not in vain.

Understanding this core truth motivates me to be proactive in living it out.  To be a better mother I'm trying to focus on:  . . . by grace only . . . NOT. . . if only.

Now I say, a Great Mother:
  • Understands what grace and flexibility is.
  • Doesn't live for the approval of others.
  • Leaves dirty dishes in the sink and laundry piled up.
  • Spends time with her kids on their level.
  • Keeps a tidy heart over a tidy house.
  • Gets enough exercise chasing her toddlers.
  • Maintains a level of home cleanliness that is reasonable (and when the kids are old enough, teach them to do their own laundry and toilets).
  • Lets the kids stay up to play one more game together.
  • Delivers homemade hugs and kisses everyday and allows Nestle to do the rest.
  • Cuddles just a minute longer at bedtime.
  • Doesn't panic if the kids have cereal for dinner.
  • Hands her list to her husband! :)
It is liberating to let false fallacies go.  Living up to others expectations is restricting.  Pursuing a flawless house and body is confining.  Scheduling every minute of the day is imprisoning.

Ladies, as school comes to a close and we look forward to summer with our kids, let's relax and enjoy simple, yet profound pleasures found in our loved ones.  Choose to please God first and be confident in the mom God created you to be, not if only . . . but by His grace only.


Heart Work:
Share below how God helps you be a "Great Mother."

Make your list of "Good Mother" and "Great Mother" items.  Evaluate where you see growth and what needs changed.

Heart Exam:
What false fallacies do you believe about Motherhood?  Which ones paralyze you from enjoying life with your children/grandchildren?

How does the approval of others inhibit you as a mom?  What are your "If only's?"

Do you tend to be a perfectionist?  How can you find better balance regardless of which side of the pendulum you are on?

Heart Changing Word:
Galatians 1:10  "Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God?  Or am I trying to please men?  If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ."

Ephesians 3:7  "I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God's grace given me through the working of his power." 

2 Corinthians 10:12 "We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves.  When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves they are not wise."


Copyright 2012 by Hester Christensen. All rights reserved.