By Mary Mays
New mom and wonderful contributor
My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:9
I have always struggled a bit with legalism, guilt and pride. I feel the need to do everything perfectly and when I don’t, I deal with guilt. On the other hand, when I think that I’ve accomplished a goal, I sometimes swell with arrogance from a job well done. This happens with spiritual things, for example evangelism. I feel extremely guilty when I don’t share Jesus with others, and pat my self on the back when I feel like someone has been receptive to the gospel. This shouldn’t be! I do the same thing with smaller things – I stress out about how my house looks and whether I’ve prepared a perfect meal – as if the people who enter my home are rating me on some sort of a scale.
Since having my son, I’ve realized that women, and specifically moms, are in desperate need of grace. I know that’s not something revolutionary, but I’ve learned it in fresh, new ways.
Yesterday, I went to a friend’s house. She is a mom of two who are under two – so clearly she has her hands full. She just got back from a ministry conference, out of state, and was getting ready to head out of town again for a friend’s wedding, followed by a beach vacation with her in-laws. I marvel at how she’s able to do all these things and mother her two children so well.
Anyhow, when I came into her home, she was holding her six week old boy, and her almost two year old was eating. We talked for only a few minutes before she offered an explanation for the chicken nuggets and pizza rolls on her toddler’s plate: “She doesn’t normally eat this, I just didn’t have anything fresh because we just got back from a trip and are going out of town again – so I didn’t want to get things that would go bad. Plus, it’s hard to get to the store with both of the kids, and I haven’t had a chance this week.” I nodded in agreement – I frequently do the same before a trip, and certainly can’t imagine a grocery store with two such small kiddos yet…. I’m still a rookie mom for sure.
We chatted and visited for a few hours, and didn’t speak anymore about the food items on her daughter’s plate. However, as I was leaving, I thought a bit more about her explanation. I wondered why she felt the need to explain it to me – did she think I was judging her choices? Then, I thought about how many times I’ve explained myself – wanting those around me to know that I am a “good mom” who is trying to make the best decisions possible for my son. I also thought about how many other moms have done the same thing. I’ve heard exhausted mothers explain that they don’t normally let their child watch TV or play video games, but it had been too rough a week. I’ve visited friends who apologized for the state of their homes, saying they hadn’t had a chance to clean. I’ve had multiple friends explain that what their child was eating wasn’t something he/she usually has. And, for the first time, I wondered, why? Are people really judging other moms as much as we think they are? And if so, why?
I’ve thought about the so called “mommy wars” – the battles mothers have over which methods are best and who is getting it right. And then I realized, that instead of judging other moms, defending our ways of parenting, or trying to convert someone else to do the same things we do, we need to practice extending grace – to ourselves and to each other. We need to stop pretending we have it all together, get real with one another, and come alongside each other to do this thing called motherhood together.
When our homes don’t look like could be showcased in a magazine, and our kids aren’t eating local organic food, we don’t need to hide it or make excuses. Similarly, when we see other moms making what seem like less than perfect choices, we need to offer them grace and prayer – who knows what they are going through. It’s hard to know the back story behind the decisions a mom has made, but we should pray that God would keep us from swelling with pride or arrogance, and ask him to remind us that we are all so desperately needy. We need His love and His grace for when we mess up. And, praise Him, He is always ready to extend it. Oh, that He would transform us into His image and make us more like Him.
Thank you for the grace you so readily extend to those who desperately need it. Help us, as moms, to do the same. Help us to come alongside each other and encourage one another in this journey of motherhood. Prevent us from swelling with pride over our parenting choices or judging others, and make us constantly aware of our desperate need for Your guidance and direction. Amen.