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.



  1. i miss your posts friend.....glad to read this one!

  2. I was reading that blog too and thought similar things.
    Oh the mighty grace of our God....

  3. This is beautiful, Leslie. Such a different and challenging perspective.

  4. "Being a parent makes us look in the mirror and face our brokenness way more than is humanly comfortable."


    "The courage I need is to face myself - my mess, my broken and selfish nature - and allow God to work in my life."

    these words... perfect!

    after 13 yrs of this mothering thing i beat myself up less too. you said it perfect, i am okay now being humbled, use to the LORDS correction.

    once grace and i became good friends this mothering gig hasn't seemed so hard, in fact it is so much more enjoyable.

    thanks for this post.

    i am going to pass it on to other mother's who need to have this truth spoken over them too!

  5. As soon as you accept your weaknesses and God's grace, you're all the more equipped to give it out! And your kids need it--at least I did, and my mom gave grace to me by the heap fulls! :D

  6. You are so right. Having little ones reminds me on a daily basis that I do NOT have it all together, and that I need to lean on God for help because I can't do this mom thing on my own. There is nothing more humbling than apologizing to my own child for totally losing my cool or being hypocritical. But I have done it several times over and I'm sure I'll do it again and again. Thanks for the great post! I'm off to check out the rest!

  7. I had your page up all day yesterday meaning to comment! I think Molly may be going through a growth spurt...she was exceptionally fussy and I didn't get much else done!
    I love this post! I can't tell you how glad I am hear things from your perspective and know what to expect in the years to come. It is just so refreshing to know that all these things I'm feeling are normal! I have never in my life been so face-to-face with my "broken and selfish nature" as you said, than right now. But thank you for the reminder of His grace. What truly amazing, awe-some grace. I am so thankful for it! Thanks again, Leslie.
    oh, and yes, of course you may link! only if you want to! :)