Monday, May 16, 2011

Measuring Sticks and Rose-colored glasses

Lately, I've been feeling like I don't measure up. I saw an athletic mom running into the grocery store yesterday, and cringed because I'm so out of shape. I looked at a fellow homeschooling mom's pictures on Facebook, and felt small because of my tendency to never upload the pics in my camera (if I even have any). Talked to a friend, and was reminded that she really delights in her children, and I barely tolerate mine, at times. Another homeschooling mom's children entertained with beautiful music at our church variety show and only one of mine took piano lessons...and I never made her practice. 

I have friends who have cleaner houses (by far), more patience, stronger faith, "bigger" ministries, holier kids, and infinitely better organizational skills. I keep falling short. 

It's not just about comparing myself to others. I compare myself to the me I want to be, as well. I compare my realities to my intentions. I want to be more focused, more caring, more capable, more godly, just...more. I fall short. I don't measure up.

And then He gently reminds me. He doesn't have a measuring stick. Doesn't need one to see that we all fall short of His glory. He doesn't measure the increments to see how short or who's falling shortest. None of us measure up. It's the human condition.

He doesn't view my life with a measuring stick. 

Because I've accepted Jesus, He sees me through rose-colored glasses; through the filter of the blood of His Son. I don't have to measure up; He bridged the distance. When I view my life through His lens, I have peace. I experience joy. I can come to Him, I do come to Him, and lay all the failings and unmet expectations at His feet. I find rest for my soul and my strivings cease. 

It is a burden to try and measure up. With my nose to the grindstone, I so rarely take time to see enjoy His presence. My life, once again, becomes about doing, instead of being. 
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. " Matt. 11:28

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day Musings

I am intimidated by Mother's Day. The cards all wax eloquent thanking me for being so selfless and giving; for putting aside my own desires to focus on the wants of my kids; for being patient and kind; even for having gentle hands that nurture.


That's just really not me. I am often selfish and needy, impatient and rude, rough and crass. I feel like a fraud when I accept the humble offerings of my kids on this day.

I am human and imperfect. My children know this about me and I am sure that picking out the perfect Mother's Day card is difficult for them. I imagine them standing in the aisle rejecting card after card, until they finally find a safe, funny one.

I hate that the holiday objectifies motherhood until it is something  angelic and saintly like halos and gold dust. I know few women who can live up to that.

It portrays the "good" mothers are those who can read the same favorite bedtime stories for hours on end, instead of hiding the annoying books and leaving out only the short ones....that rhyme. They can create gourmet meals on a shoe string budget, instead of serving frozen pizza for the 3rd time this week. There is no way they have a hidden chocolate stash, but if they did and it was found, they'd be sure to share, instead of lunging for it and yelling, "MINE!"

The truth is I love my kids. I clean up their bodily fluids because it needs to be done, not because I am saint-like. I delight in them because they're, well, delightful. I try to do what's best for them and can agonize for weeks over the simplest decision. 

I'm just a mom. I feel like I am failing much more often than succeeding. I notice all the the things I'm not doing, over all I am. I worry that I'm not disciplining enough, enjoying them enough, teaching them enough, loving them enough...that I'm not enough.

Instead of thanking me for what I have done, Mother's Day - with it's sappy cards, commercials, and sermons - just spotlights for me the areas I'm lacking.  Next year, I'm going to unplug from all the media pressure and enjoy my family as they celebrate imperfect me.

Saturday, May 7, 2011


I can’t shake the feeling that perhaps I don’t have the kingdom view necessary to undertake this huge job of parenting. Maybe we’re not really living it, kwim? I feel completely ill-equipped for this overwhelming role and think I’m sinking instead of swimming. While I agree that there can be no formula for raising perfect kids, is it wrong to wish there were? 
I recently read an article that talks about success in parenting. Basically, that we are successful in our obedience, not necessarily in the outcome. That is encouraging to me. I fall on my face before the Father and beg for wisdom, only to find I need to do the same the next day and the next. The task is daunting. I have one moment that I absolutely know I did the right thing … for every 100 moments of uncertainty.

When will I know for sure it’s "worked"? When my child can sits still in a church service at the age of 2? When my 1st grader obeys my every wish without explanation? When my teen dresses modestly of her own accord? When my 25 yo shares his very first kiss with his new bride? Are these even the goals?

I suppose none of us will ever know of our parenting "success" until we stand before the Father and hear his assessment.

The problem is that our children are human and subject to the very whims and temptations that we are. And, just like us, many may look good on the outside but only God knows the heart.  Any spiritual growth can only come from the work of the Holy Spirit.  We can point our children in the right direction, but we can’t mature them.  Only God can do that.  While this is frightening in some ways (we can’t ensure the outcome) it is also incredibly freeing.  We will be held accountable only for our obedience, not for the choices our children make.