Keep on Swimming. . .

everyday life inside the fishbowl

Thursday Thoughts: The Humbling Process of Christian Motherhood 

on February 5, 2015

mum-and-son-1380973094O8eI analyze everything.  And when I say everything, I mean everything. My husband tells me all the time, whilst in the middle of analyzing away something, “Stop analyzing.” Part of why I like to blog is that blogging helps me to write down my thoughts and stop analyzing them so much! 🙂

All that to say. . . I often analyze motherhood. What makes it so difficult? Why do I feel so overwhelmed? Why do I often feel like I am a mothering failure? Why have  I lost my temper more in the last 4 years than I had in the previous 28? Etc. etc. etc.

Clearly some of the answers lie in the reality that I am a mother of children. Children who–oddly enough–often remind me of me or my husband. Children who inherited a sin nature from us. Children who are naturally foolish and, well, childish.

It is a difficult job. It is repetitive. It is exhausting. It is repetitive. It is messy. It is repetitive. It requires flexibility. Did I mention it is repetitive? 🙂

But what I’ve found the most discouraging and most humbling about this motherhood process is me. I have amazed (and disappointed) myself with the depth of sinfulness that being a mother has brought out in me. I am selfish. I am impatient. I am angry. I am short-tempered. I am mean.

Being a mother has brought my need to the absolute forefront–my continued need for Jesus Christ and the continuing work of the gospel in my life.  Without the grace of God that saved me and continues to grow me, I would always react selfishly, impatiently, angrily, etc. Because of the Holy Spirit’s presence and work in me, I know that I will improve (and am improving) in these areas–even if it is a slow, loooong process.

But what makes motherhood in particular so humbling and sanctifying? Can you be humbled and sanctified without being a mother? Of course! But (after my deep analysis!) I do think there is a particularly humbling aspect of motherhood unique to it (and a few other roles).

As a Christian mother, I am constantly teaching my children biblical principles: “Be kind, because Jesus was kind to you by dying on the cross for you. Be patient. Do not be angry. You can only be kind, patient, loving etc. if Jesus helps you. You need Jesus.”

And these things I tell them in the midst of sweetly reminding yelling at them for yelling at each other. These things I tell them while walking heavily (aka stomping) because I’m angry. These things I tell them after any number of sinful activity or thoughts on my part.

And this is why motherhood (and other roles, such as pastoring, counseling, etc.) is so humbling. We teach and correct the very things we struggle with. We need Jesus Christ as much as our children do. We need God’s sanctifying grace as much as they need His saving grace.

This is humbling. But (more analyzing. . . )it is also a good thing. My kids know very well that Mommy needs Jesus just as much as they do (although they can’t articulate that yet). They know that Mommy is a sinner who struggles with the same sins that they do. They hear me say (as I said a few hours ago to one of my children), “You were wrong to disobey and make that mess and scream, and Mommy was right in disciplining you, but. . . Mommy should not have been so angry. That was sin. Will you forgive me? See?–Mommy needs Jesus too.”

This humbling realization also helps inform my discipline. No longer am I the perfect mommy with expectations of perfect children. Rather, I am a growing disciple of Jesus  Christ who is striving to point my little children to Jesus, so they too can be growing disciples. In a way, we are journeying together. Clearly, this does not negate my disciplining role as a parent in any way; it just helps me react with grace and Christlikeness (when I remember this!). It helps me realize that discipline should not be a reaction to my inconvenience or annoyance, but a means of pointing out sin and pointing to Christ.

I am thankful for my children, despite the challenges they bring me. Being their mother reminds me how much I still need a Savior. And that helps me point them to my Savior. May they see Jesus in me. May they too become growing disciples of Jesus Christ.

{On Thursdays, I share some thoughts about what God is teaching me in my various roles as a Christian, a woman, a wife, a mother, and a pastor’s wife.}

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