Have you ever had that feeling in the pit of your stomach? The one where you feel like you just got sucker-punched and you can’t figure out what to do next? That’s about what my day…okay, my week, okay, to be honest, maybe my month, has felt like…one big sucker-punch. Raising kids is hard, but raising them to be adults is harder. At this stage of my life, I am starting to get a glimpse of the fruit of my labor, the harvest of investing in my children and my family, and sometimes that is a beautiful thing, and other times, I want to run away and hide, or even cry! I can see where I have built up my children but I also see where I have torn them down. I see where I have given them a sure footing but I also see where I have failed to prepare them for life in certain areas. I see where I have come through in big ways but I also see where I have let them down in even bigger ways. I see where I have poured into them abundantly but I also see where I have left them high and dry. It is a battle of giving it my all and yet still feeling like I am always falling short. The struggle is real.
As a mom, I read the books, I join the prayer chains, I get involved in the mom groups, I attend the mom conferences, I even scan the mom blogs and listen to the mom sermons. Yet, in a room full of moms, or in a virtual world full of Instagram pictures and Facebook posts, I see just how far I am still missing the mark. One day it all came to a head when I saw my kids struggling…one child struggling in school, my other child struggling in life, another child struggling in purpose, while the other still struggling in character, and I thought, I have messed up big time! And no way was I about to let others see my faulty parenting! Maybe I didn’t show enough love, give enough time, or pour into them enough Scripture? Maybe I didn’t discipline them enough, withhold enough, exemplify Christ enough, or pray with them enough. I think in this life we will never be enough. Then the Lord stopped my thoughts, and in HIS unfailing tenderness said to me, “raising My children is not a science, it is a SURRENDER, and I AM enough.” I sat, and sat, and sat…and meditated on that statement for quite some time. As a mom, I tend to carry the burden of making the faults of my kids, my faults. Their struggle, my struggle. Even their victories are my victories. I tend to think if they are walking a perfect straight and narrow path it must be because of my good parenting and best efforts. In the same token, if they fail and are led astray in any area of life then that must be a reflection of where I have failed in some way because of my bad parenting. You see where I am going with this? How did this become all about ME?! That’s really where the problem lies. If I surrender, it is no longer about me, but more about the One to whom I have surrendered it all. This word surrender is a tricky thing. You see, I cannot take any credit or boast of anything that I have let go of or given up my authority to. An open hand isn’t meant to hold on but to let go. This includes my children.
“If my life is surrendered to God, all is well. Let me not grab it back, as though it were in peril in His hand but would be safer in mine!” -Elisabeth Elliot
To surrender is to “relinquish, renounce, yield, submit, or relent.” These words sound harsh, like I have given up or not taken responsibility for that which God has entrusted me. But I relinquish that which was never mine to own. I have learned to recognize that my children are only given to me for a time. I am not surrendering my children but rather my ownership of them, to the One whom they rightfully belong.
“God is ready to assume full responsibility for the life wholly yielded (surrendered) to Him.” -Andrew Murray
Motherhood is not about perfecting our children but sanctifying them. Sanctification is not a work of the flesh, but a work of the Spirit, a work only God can do. It is not about keeping them from the struggle or protecting them from it, but walking with them through it and helping them to see Christ in the midst of it.
“The struggle of life is one of our greatest blessings. It makes us patient, sensitive, and Godlike. It teaches us that although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.” -Helen Keller
When my kids struggle I need to remember that it is not necessarily a reflection of me, but more about letting God make them into a reflection of Him. Although the struggle is real, the work Christ is doing in them is greater still.
“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” – James 1:12 (ESV)
Yes, there are consequences to our actions and a reaping of our sowing as parents, and yes, we need to be diligent in our parenting, but we need to be careful not to get caught up so much in the process that we are missing the purpose. I could be with my kids all day every day, making valuable deposits in their life, and they may still tumble and fall. Or I could be the biggest failure known to motherhood, and they could still be the biggest contributor and conqueror in the kingdom of God. The best we can do is surrender! We will never figure it all out, because His ways are higher and greater than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9). Thank goodness!! We can trust His word when it says He who has begun a good work (in our children) is faithful to complete it (Philippians 1:6). After all this child rearing, I want to come to a place where I see their struggles not as my lack but more as their gain. I want to trust what I value most, my children and my family, in the hands of God. My mess, my kid’s mess, is nothing compared to His grace and His best. May that awful feeling in the pit of my stomach be replaced with the peace of God and the fullness of His joy.
By: Kristine Flores
1. What am I attempting to perfect over what God is trying to sanctify?
2. Am I more worried about my reflection as a parent than Christ’s reflection in me?
Check out the following book review:
The Mission of Motherhood: Touching Your Child’s Heart for Eternity
By Sally Clarkson
This book single-handedly altered the course of my mothering and cemented in my heart the ideals that began stirring when I started having children. Clarkson encourages and equips mothers to grasp the immense calling they have when God gifts them with the responsibility of raising a child. She inspires mothers to embrace this role and speaks to our hearts about the great value we have as we influence the next generation. The book is divided into five sections: A Mother’s Calling, A Mother’s Heart for Her God, A Mother’s Heart for Her Children, A Mother’s Heart for Her Home and A Mother’s Heart for Eternity. At the end of each chapter are Bible verses and life application questions as well as several practical action steps that integrate the presented ideas and can be immediately implemented. The content and structure of the book also lends itself well to small group settings. The Mission of Motherhood should be in every home as a resource book that will inspire and encourage you in your mothering ideals and spur you on to continue the journey with your whole heart.
By: Lisa Newman