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mom in kitchen with two kids

Have you ever longed to be the perfect mom? The one who has it all together, never gets angry, and gets everything done? Sadly, this superwoman doesn’t exist, but thankfully, being a good mom doesn’t require perfection. Just grace.

From the moment my kids were born, one prayer has run on a continuous loop through my mind: Lord, please don’t let me mess this up! When it comes to parenting, I have always struggled with the need to do everything right. There’s no doubt God has been working overtime to pry my desire to be a perfect parent right out of my clenched fists. 

For me, learning to accept my shortcomings has become one of the most difficult parts of motherhood. Yet God has a way of taking the weakest parts of us and holding them near the fire. While it may sound cruel, this refining process is out of His pure and perfect love for us. In His perfect timing, He quietly shapes us into exactly who He created us to be. And because practice makes perfect, parenting offers plenty of opportunities for refining. 

 

FAR FROM PERFECT

In the summer of 2016, I stood in the living room of our home, surveying the stacks of boxes lined up against the wall. The next day, our family would load up a moving van and move two states away. I carried a hefty load of guilt for uprooting our young girls and taking them away from their family and friends.

I wanted them to leave town with happy memories, so we arranged for them to attend a week-long summer camp while we packed up the house that held every memory they’d ever known. A kind friend graciously offered to carpool to camp all week so we wouldn’t be burdened with the additional task of chauffeuring kids around.

On our final day in town, I texted my friend to let her know she didn’t need to bring my oldest daughter home that night (my youngest was already at home). I had big plans to create the perfect moment for her after I picked her up, and I wanted that special time all to myself. 

I had visions of driving through town one last time, reminiscing and laughing and sharing excitement over our upcoming adventure. I even made a mental note to stop for ice cream on the way home. Nothing says “Best Mom Ever” than surprising your kid with a dipped cone. My plan was perfect.

The evening began winding down, and I looked around the empty house, satisfied with our progress. Checking my watch I realized it was getting late, and I expected my daughter to walk in the door at any moment from her carpool. About five minutes later, a number I didn’t recognize scrolled across my phone. I tentatively answered, hearing my daughter’s shaky voice on the other end. 

“Momma? Are you coming to get me? I’m the last one here.”

My heart plunged into a free-fall, landing with a thud in the bottom of my stomach. I’d made plenty of parenting mistakes before, but I simply couldn’t forgive myself for this one. I forgot my own kid! This was not the Hallmark ending I had wanted. 

Breathless, I assured her I was on my way. Barreling through the parking lot with the U-Haul swaying wildly behind, I was desperate to fix my mistake. But the damage was done, and my internal dialogue was out of control:

You completely ruined this moment. She’ll remember this for the rest of her life.

My daughter climbed into the front seat, tossing her drawstring bag and muddy shoes onto the floorboard. With tears in my eyes, I leaned over and wrapped her in a hug, apologizing over and over again. She simply looked at me with a gentle smile and said, “It’s okay, Momma. It’s been a long week.”

 

GOD REDEEMS OUR MISTAKES

Five years later, this is one of our favorite family stories to tell. And thankfully, my daughter is none the worse for wear. However, the memory pops up often, along with dozens of other reminders of situations that have left me longing for a parenting do-over. 

Satan is sneaky with lies that convince us we aren’t good enough. He would love nothing more than to hit us right where it hurts and have us believe that we aren’t cut out for this sacred work of parenting. He throws our mistakes back in our face, and we can easily get wrapped up in the weight of it.

When we feel buried by all the ways we’ve messed up, we can take comfort in the fact that those guilt-filled emotions are not from God. It’s easy to recognize His voice because it’s in stark contrast to the blaring messages running through our mind when we think we’ve made mistakes that can’t be redeemed.

God reminds us that we don’t have to be ashamed or feel guilty about our weaknesses, including our parenting mistakes.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). 

Our weakness leaves room for God to move and do incredible things if we humbly walk alongside Him.

 

WE CAN BOAST ABOUT OUR WEAKNESS

I’d love to boast about all the incredible things I’ve accomplished as a parent. But let’s face it, there are days when my biggest accomplishment is not getting caught rolling my eyes after confronting my teenager about her messy bedroom.

However, I can boast about the ways God works through my messes. He teaches me humility when I apologize for making a mistake. He offers grace and mercy when I ask for forgiveness after losing my temper. When I sit on the stairs with my head in my hands, weeping during a global pandemic, my children witness what it looks like to cry out to the only One who can truly comfort us in our grief.

Moms, when parenting feels like more than we’re capable of, God reminds us of the promise found in Matthew 11:28-30: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” 

When we feel defeated by our role as a mother in this big, messy world, God is gracious to show us that there’s a reason He entrusted us with these precious people. In the moments when we’re frustrated for blowing it, He is gracious to remind us that He will fill in the gaps.

All God asks is that we trust Him. That we come to Him in the most difficult moments of parenting. That we release control over to Him. 

I know I’m not a perfect mom. God didn’t grant that power to me. (Even though I asked politely.) He knew better. And now, I’m so glad God didn’t make me a perfect parent. If He did, there wouldn’t be an opportunity to show my children where our true strength comes from. 

“I lift up my eyes to the mountains—

where does my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord,

The Maker of heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1-2, NIV).

 

SHOWING THEM THE WAY

The journey of parenting is filled with situations that leave us thinking we’re doing it all wrong. 

There is no role in life that highlights our need for a Savior more than being a mother. Mercifully, our Savior is One who sees our needs and meets us right where we are. “Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure” (Psalm 147:5). 

Over the last two decades, I’ve begged God to equip me with everything I need to be the perfect mom. It turns out that God did equip me, but not in the way I expected. The power isn’t mine, but His. My faith in Him gives me all I need.

He didn’t make me perfect. He didn’t make any of us perfect. He made us human with a deep reliance on His perfect love and grace every single day. God understands that our children don’t require perfection, either. They just need someone who will point them to the One who is. And that is something we imperfect moms can most certainly do.

 

How might acknowledging your imperfections free you as a parent? How could you intentionally use your weaknesses to point your children to God and His strength?

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2 comments
  1. “ SHOWING THEM THE WAY

    The journey of parenting is filled with situations that leave us thinking we’re doing it all wrong. ”

    I’ve been in prayer and mindful lately to do better at making sure my actions even in the most frustrating days are showing my teens the way. A good read. Thank you so much.

  2. I cried as I read this…I often feel I’ve made a mess of things. Thank you for reminding me that Father God doesn’t need me to be perfect. He just wants me to trust Him to “fill in the gaps”. I so needed this today. God bless you and keep writing these encouraging articles

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