I watched her from across the room. This woman, this mother, was losing the battle. I could see her cheeks growing red; panic and frustration on her face. Her little boy was screaming, yelling at the top of his lungs and somehow crying all at the same time. She started to walk away with her younger child on her hip, trying to do the “I’m not putting up with this” ignoring tactic, no doubt… he screamed even louder, “Stay by me, stay by me!” Others started looking and the poor mom could tell they were making a scene. She slowed down her pace so he could catch up and the screaming would stop. Only it didn’t. As she got close the boy yelled, “No! Don’t come by me!”
I will never have kids like that, I thought. I will never be a mom like that. I will teach my kids how to behave in public, how to respect adults and honor their parents. I’ll know how to handle a situation like that so much better… my kids wouldn’t even think of behaving that way.
Humbly, I admit to you that both of these ladies above are me. The onlooker was me before kids… the already-perfect-parent-but-not-yet-parent. I had all the answers, all the discipline techniques, all the 'I would nevers', written, folded and neatly pressed. I had a Child and Family Development degree after all. I.was.set.
The flushed cheeks, red in the face, not having a clue what to do mom was also me… literally yesterday.
You guys... parenting is hard! Of course, you already knew that. No matter how ready you think you are, how many degrees you have or how many times you babysat as a teenager, it seems like nothing truly prepares you for a time like… yesterday.
So many times in parenting I find myself just thinking (or saying to my husband), I just want someone who knows me, knows us and our babies to tell me what to do! Everyone says, “Oh, you just do what’s best for you and your family.” Thank you, but I literally don’t even know what that is. Do I let my baby keep crying, this time? I just went in 5 minutes ago. Do I give him another timeout? I already gave him a spanking for doing the exact same thing. The funny, ironic and ridiculous thing is, the moment anyone tries to give me their advice or tells me what to do, I think to myself, “Thank you, but who are you to tell me how to parent my family?”
All I can think about right now is this huge billboard with lights all around it and through it… something like you would see on the LasVegas strip with the word Grace on it.
That’s the answer.
All we have, all we need is God’s grace. To live in it and give it freely.
His all-consuming, never-ending, undeserving grace.
I never thought I would so tangibly see God’s grace as I did when I experienced a ruptured brain aneurysm while I was 26 weeks pregnant. You can read more about that here. But I am uncovering more and more of God’s grace as I walk through this parenting journey.
I know I can’t do it alone – His grace is always there. He will never leave me or forsake me.
I know I feel tired and weak – His grace sustains me.
I know I feel empty and alone at times – His grace is all consuming.
I know I can’t be or do everything – His grace is enough.
I am enough.
I was hand-picked. Chosen to be these sweet boys' mama and no one else can fulfill that role like I can. Like you can. Even though I know I am the perfect mom for these boys, days like yesterday remind me how much I so deeply need Christ. How much I so deeply need His love and guidance and wisdom and patience. His forgiveness.
I can’t get this song from Hillsong United out of my head.
A thousand times I've failed
Still Your mercy remains
And should I stumble again
I'm caught in Your grace
Your light will shine when all else fades
Your glory goes beyond all fame
Your will above all else
My purpose remains
The art of losing myself
In bringing You praise
A thousand times I’ve failed. Yes! That’s me! I have and did and will continue to fail! BUT. I, we, are caught in His grace. No perfection necessary, no dinosaur cut-out PB&J’s necessary, no perfectly themed birthday parties necessary, no dressed perfectly, hair done, matching shoes all the time necessary. We’re caught. We’re His. We’re enough.
So give. Give grace to those littles who may just need an extra hug today. Give grace to that husband who’s working so hard to provide for you and your family.
Show. Show those people in your life what a grace-filled person looks like. Be an earthly example of Jesus to those people you influence today. Show them what it looks like to mess up, but to still be caught in God’s grace.
Accept. Accept the never-ending, free-flowing Grace of Jesus Christ in your parenting, in your marriage, where you work, where you’re at. We’re not perfect - we know that, our kids know that, our husbands know that. Let’s not beat ourselves up, the world does enough of that. Accept His grace and He will work through you to let His light shine. Someone that makes a positive difference in the lives of her children, husband, and those she comes in contact with. Someone that shows people what it looks like to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Someone who shows Grace.