When I was a young girl, my imagination carried me to the future often…where in it, I was a mom to a few precious babies. My home was organized and clean. I dressed my sweet kids in beautiful clothes that smelled of fresh clean laundry. In my imagination, I was the ever patient, creative parenting type. I would use encouraging words, never harsh or provoking ones. I hugged a lot, smiled and laughed often, played games with my children and took them on wild adventures. I was the fun and engaging mom, the always listening intently and never quick to judge kind of mom, the kind whose children came to her to talk openly about anything. Because that’s what happens when you are a “good”mom and can readily access your children’s’ hearts and spirits when they’re troubled. I imagined my children would be filled with joy. They wouldn’t complain or ever use the word “bored”. Their attitudes, behaviors and noble character would reflect the parenting skills of a mother who knew what she was doing. And when the occasional mistake was made or bad choices given in to, this mom would always be forgiving and gracious.
This imaginary measuring stick was something I believed in even right up until our first son was born. And then they placed him in my arms for the very first time and I knew…everything I had believed so naively was based upon MY doing, MY actions and MY character. All of the conjured up expectations and ideals of what Motherhood would look and feel like were based upon one thing….Me. None of my optimism ever included God or His plans for me or my children, not to mention His Love and Grace for us. Holding our tiny baby, I was blindsided by the immediate realization that I could not be the kind of Mom I so desperately wanted to be without completely relying on God.
Once I settled into Motherhood, four times in all, I became a bit more comfortable with my role. After some time went by and I began meeting other Moms, my mind drifted back to that imaginary Mom, my idol…the version of ME that I actually started measuring myself against. And then suddenly, a new feeling emerged. Fear! What if I messed everything up? What if I couldn’t raise my boys to be the sorts of men who followed Jesus? And what about the day to day? How would we ever make it from one day to the next without me feeling like a complete and utter failure every single day?
I felt so vulnerable and afraid. I still do at times. Some days, I catch myself still comparing my life, my kids, even my faith (or lack thereof) to others. I see that mom in the grocery store whose children are quietly chatting with one another as they follow Mom along, even helping her take things off the shelves, while mine are bickering and complaining that I’m not getting the cereal they really want. I see the Mom at the library whose children are reading books together while she peacefully checks out her stack of books. Meanwhile, my crew is disrupting all of the other patrons with their loud voices, semi-wrestling over a coveted book and our youngest is making a break for the front entrance which ends badly as all three of the bigger brothers tackle him to the ground…and now they’re lying in a heap…all eyes on us.
Do you ever feel that way? Like all eyes are on you? I do. Even in the smallest decisions we make, others are watching. I know this, because we do it too, don’t we. We watch others to see what moves they’re going to make. We judge and compare. They judge and compare. But this is what God’s Word says…
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:16-21 (emphasis added: mine)
Did you catch that? The only kind of measuring stick we need to be concerned with is the Holy Spirit kind. It’s the filling to overflowing til our hearts are parenting out of the overflow kind of measure. Anything less than being filled to the measure with God’s Holy Spirit and we are still relying on ourselves and still more likely to compare ourselves with someone else.
This world is filled with all kinds of ways we can see what the next Mom is doing without even leaving the comfort of our own homes. This, too, would be another area where I’ve picked up my imaginary measuring stick. How many times have I hopped online in search of a fun lesson plan or a particular DIY project? Or maybe I was looking for some decorating inspiration or a better way to plan out our meals. Possibly, I was looking for parenting advice or a good book to read. In an of themselves, there is nothing wrong with any of these things, except for when I begin to measure myself against what I see in others online. I will admit that I’ve listened to the lies of the enemy when he suggests that I need to take a good hard look in the mirror because I’m failing.
Satan is so good at watching us very closely when he senses we are feeling vulnerable, not enough, inadequate and lacking confidence. But, thankfully, God is too. We can become very desperate for anything more and better and even just different, if our hearts and minds are left unguarded. I know I don’t want anyone but the Holy Spirit filling me to the measure. He created us to be who we are, not who anyone else is. So, when we are tempted to look around and fear that we’re not what we should be or that we don’t measure up, Moms, we need to replace that mindset with the HOPE that is God.
I think the question we need to ask ourselves is this…What are we measuring ourselves up against?
Is it the world, other moms, the faith of another Christian? Or are we ready to start measuring our thoughts, conversations, actions, reactions and responses against the Word of God? I want to. But, I also know myself…I am one of those people that falls down quickly if I’m not somehow spending time with God constantly. This can prove challenging as a busy Mother, right? So, what does it look like to be in constant fellowship with God? For me, it looks like this: Get up, pray, eat, walk, mess up, pray, do a devotion, pray, spend time with kids, pray, mess up, read my bible, read to the kids, pray, mess up and pray some more….You get the idea. It’s not perfect. And I do my fair share of messing up. I also have my fair share of days where I just choose to sink into my own mess and wallow for a bit. But, no matter how many steps away from God I take, it only ever takes ONE step to get back to Him. That’s Grace!
Moms, let’s continue to listen for the Voice of God this week. If the Voice we hear does not measure up against the Word of God, then it certainly won’t fill us to overflowing and we can discount it. When that happens, let’s just pray and ask God for His Wisdom and Discernment to know, without a doubt , the difference between His Voice and any other. Praying for you all, sweet ones.
We would LOVE for you to share a photo of how you’re reading Hope for the Weary Mom! Wherever you’re reading, take a photo and share it with us on our Facebook page or on Instagram (using #WearyMom for Instagram). And then we’ll pick a new photo each week throughout the rest of the study to use as our Facebook cover photo.
Yes, this is my copy of Hope…and yes, I like to have my coffee, a cookie and Kleenex with me too.
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