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The Joy and Sorrow of Parenting

Forty-eight hours ago I was plagued by the thought, “I am a bad mom.” That complete sentence ran through my mind—uninvited and multiple times throughout the evening. I tried to push the thought out of my mind, but the truth is, it was gaining significant ground. Deep down, in those moments, I believed those words to be true.

Twenty-four hours ago I overheard a podcast that my husband was playing on his computer. One speaker encouraged listeners to remember that parenting is much longer than a day. She reminded me that when I lift my eyes up and see five, ten, fifteen years down the road, I gain a completely new perspective of my job as a mother. When I’m focused just on this day—when I wasn’t patient or kind during bath time, and the kids seemed to be sustained on sugar and “screen time”—I have a much harsher ruling for myself. Bad Mom.

Parenting to See Jesus

When I remember, however, that I am called to parent them to see Jesus exalted, for all of eternity, today’s bath holds much less sway. Yes, a lifetime is made up of seemingly little moments, and their weight should not be dismissed. My purpose as a mom is refocused when I consider worshipping before God’s throne forever. I am not a significant player in that picture at all!

My ability to control a situation or procure the attention and obedience I think I deserve is revealed to be utterly insignificant, and an erroneous pursuit in the light of God’s overwhelming glory!

The second speaker on that much-needed podcast discussed our complete dependence on Jesus. She reminded me that as a regenerate believer in Christ, I have died to myself and have been raised to life with him (Romans 6:4)! It is when I remember and rest in my identity in Jesus that I can live on mission and be full of joy, more accurately displaying God’s love and glorifying him as he deserves.

Rather than respond to my discouragement with self-esteem boosters and affirmations of, “No! You’re a great mom!” the Holy Spirit lovingly took my eyes off of myself and put them where they need to be—on Jesus.

Meeting Our Culture’s Standards

My primary goal as a mom is not to ensure that my children meet our culture’s standards—whether that is in regards to diet, entertainment, education, dress, activities, or any other myriad of topics. I am commissioned to teach my kids about Jesus. I am given the extreme honor and privilege of telling them about the God, who creates, redeems, and restores. As part of teaching them about who God is and what his kingdom is like, I am also called to teach them about sin.

Mine is clearly on display, so I must respond biblically, demonstrating repentance and refusing to become complacent. It is vitally important that my kids not only hear me say, “I’m sorry,” but that they also see me battling to slay my sin by grace alone. Sin threatens our relationships and darkens that already dim mirror through which our children see the Lord reflected (1 Cor 13:12). Reading the Word and praying, therefore, become far greater than duties which I must check off my daily chore chart! In addition to addressing my sin, I also must lovingly teach them about theirs.

Remembering that our children are born sinful and are dead apart from Christ’s life-giving work prevents me from focusing on behavior modification more than spiritual discipleship. As difficult as that is and as foreign as it feels in our culture today, teaching my kids about their sin will set them up to fully revel in God’s mind-boggling grace!

Still Wanting More

Twelve hours ago I walked through the Columbus Zoo, hand-in-hand with my six-year-old son. He’d been wanting to go on their Pirate Island boat ride for quite a while! He had been hoping it would still be there since our passes expired last season, and, when it was closed on our first visit of this season, the forbidden fruit became even more desirable! He finally got to ride it with his dad today. Afterward, I asked him how it was, and he said, “It was so fun! I wish I could’ve gone twice.” I immediately recognized my tendency to feel this way. By God’s grace alone, I was able to tell him that we all experience the feeling of good things not being enough, of being sure that something will make us happy, only to find that we still want more.

I told him the reason we feel this way is that only Jesus fully satisfies us. Only Jesus meets our true needs and meets them completely!

I don’t know if he’ll remember that exchange. It only lasted about thirty seconds. But I am encouraged that the Spirit guides my thoughts and words in those moments, despite my many shortcomings, to teach Eli the gospel once again.

Therein lies my joy!

As Christians, our calling, no matter what life-roles we fulfill, is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. Eternity is our timeframe, and the perfectly righteous Son of God is our advocate. So take heart, return to the source of your fulfillment and identity and keep walking forward.

Myra lives in Newark, Ohio with her husband and 3 children. She blogs at dependentongrace.com