A funny friend of mine recently wrote:
Not only did I make my child a kind-of-ugly pair of pajama pants that don’t really fit very well, I also forgot to take one of the pins out before having her try them on. I got this Mother of the Year thing in the bag, baby!
I made my daughter cry on Christmas Day when I accidentally threw away a gingerbread cookie she painstakingly decorated. I’m probably not going to be nominated for Mother of the Year, either.
A fictitious MOTY trophy is fun to joke about—what mother doesn’t have “those” moments?
In reality, though, many of us are plagued with the nagging feeling that we just don’t measure up as moms.
Certainly, when we compare ourselves to the glorious perfections of God’s holy law, we see that none of us qualifies for an award. We don’t have to look very far into our hearts to uncover our sinfulness.
We use our children to bloat our egos and make us look good. We fail to love them with selfless, sacrificial love. We set bad examples and train them to value the world’s opinion over God’s. And these are just a few of the ways we fail to live righteously.
There are also the other impossible standards that we invent. We feel shame over projects we start and don’t finish. We get frustrated over good intentions that never materialized. We beat ourselves up over getting “stuck in a rut” and having more flukes and failures than fantastic feats of faith. Even though we’ll confess “nobody’s perfect,” we still grieve over dreams of mothering perfection that could have been.
The expectant hope we have for 2012 can easily be overshadowed by discouragement if we only consider our own potential. But grace changes everything.
The gospel of grace says that God accepts us in Christ and then he makes us holy. We don’t first make ourselves holy so that God will accept us. When God accepts us in Christ we can experience the indomitable power of the indwelling Holy Spirit to resist temptation, flee from sin, live righteously, and glorify God in all things.
Even Super Mom Needs God
Advice on things like choosing a safe car seat or teaching a finicky preschooler to eat a well-balanced meal is easy to come by. What we need more than anything else for our motherhood is God’s power for personal holiness.
But what if we still want to be Super Mom and show off our MOTY trophies? We need to remember there’s a better award than the approval and praise of our peers.
When we’re tempted to revel in the acceptance of others we need to draw near to God’s throne of grace. We can have confidence that God will hear our prayers, come to our aid, and bolster our hope in him because of what our Great High Priest has done for us on the cross (Hebrews 4:14-16).
When we’re tempted to become anxious about the past we need to remember that because of God’s grace in Christ our lawless deeds are forgiven and our sins are covered (Romans 4:7). Even if we have forsaken God’s redemptive plans for our lives he has not forsaken us. We need to repent of our sin and rejoice in God’s never-procrastinating, always-irresistible grace in sustaining our souls (Philippians 1:6).
When we’re tempted to worry about the future we need to remember the richness of God’s mercy and the greatness of his love in sending Jesus. His grace in the past is a model and a promise of his future intentions to show us the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:4-7). That means we have all the grace we need for now. And when later becomes now, God will give us the grace we need in that moment, too.
You and I may never be nominated for the fictitious Mother of the Year award. The proverbial trophy case will remain dusty and empty. But nonetheless we should boast all the more gladly of our weaknesses and need for God’s grace so that Christ’s power will rest on us (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
Glorying in God is a truer and better award than the adulation of others. Considering God’s potential to deliver all the grace he promises us in Christ is a truer and better estimation of the potential of 2012. So let’s start a new year rejoicing in God’s work of making us a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Besides, those Super Mom costumes never fit quite right anyway.