Wednesday, July 06, 2011
Grace on a Thursday: Looking in the Mirror
Today I was reading of a fellow blogger's journey as a new mom. She is a brand new mom. Like one month new. She was sharing her struggles, and listening to God's voice comfort her as she already battled feeling like a "bad mother." She was surprised that parenting was so challenging right out of the gate.
I was recognizing that I'm nine years into this motherhood deal, so I stopped to think about how things had changed from being one month into parenthood till now. I still have days where I battle feelings of being a "bad mother" too, so I wondered what was different. What, if anything, have I learned in nine years about myself and what kind of mother I am?
One thing is pretty certain: I haven't grown more perfect. I cannot confidently say that I am "better" at mothering overall. I'm better at some things, skill-related things, of course. I can whip up some good meals, handle a mean diaper rash, and securely install a carseat (and that's not so easy). But I still melt down at silly things. I still yell. I still overreact, under react, control, complain, and feel cranky when my child only wants to eat my lunch and not their own.
I still battle my broken, selfish nature all the time. It is not any less present in my life, compared to nine years ago.
So here it is. The one thing I am certain has changed, the one thing by which I feel confident I can measure some growth is that I am more comfortable facing that nature. Being a parent makes us look in the mirror and face our brokenness way more than is humanly comfortable. And in the last nine years, I've gotten more used to it. More used to feeling humbled. More used to accepting the Lord's correction. More used to asking for forgiveness, from God and from others. And all of that means I've become more familiar with grace. You can't really understand grace unless you experience it over and over, and you can't really experience it until you face your mistakes head on.
A child has a way of causing our weaknesses to bubble up to the surface. That little life is a catalyst for a perfect "refiner's fire," for exposing our sin, and revealing opportunities for God to prune and heal us. And that's why parenting requires so much courage. The courage needed, at least for me, is not for training up my children. In comparison, that's the easy part. The courage I need is to face myself - my mess, my broken and selfish nature - and allow God to work in my life. That is truly challenging. Because I could choose not to. I could shut my eyes to my past, my pain, and my issues. I could choose to feel sorry for myself and believe and behave as if I'm destined for failure. That's an option.
But God is holding out grace, available every day. How can I resist that? He is waiting to wash me in love, heal my issues, and then teach me how to love my family. His offer is so attractive that I am drawn to it much more than the self-condemning pity party.
I feel like such a slow learner as a mother, but somehow that's okay now. I can accept my weaknesses because I trust that He is my strength. Nine years ago, I didn't accept myself in a lot of ways. I was afraid to look in the mirror, and I knew I'd be disgusted with myself if I did. I'm not saying we should be comfortable with our sin. Not at all. Grace is not an excuse to continue in a bad habit. But if we are followers of Jesus, then we have no business condemning ourselves when He does not. That cheapens everything we know about the cross. Grace gives us the freedom to look in the mirror, unashamed.
The surprise is that I see exactly who I was created to be: a daughter of the King, and a mama who is lovely because He loves me.