Head pounding and thoughts racing, I would lay on my bed at night rehearsing all of the day's events. Thoughts would flood and haunt my mind with all of the wrong ways I had responded in the day, and tears would stream down my face.
I was caught between who I wanted to be and who I really was. There were so many things I was doing right, but oh so many things I was doing wrong. When talking with friends, I found that they too were haunted by the never ending guilt that haunted me. I will try harder tomorrow, I would reason. I will be patient. I will be kind. I will have grace.
The next day would begin again. Sun shining, kids smiling, and then would come the chaos that exists with having four young children, and once again I would find my responses not in line with who I so badly wanted to be. Patience, kindness, and grace would go out the window, and my hope would go right along with it. I would love to say this was a rare occurrence, but in fact it happened quite often.
In those days, I felt so alone. I knew that other moms struggled too—we talked about it plenty—but I wasn't satisfied to land in that place and neither were they. I could see it on their faces. I would cry to my husband at night, and he would say, "Honey, you are such a good mom." I really believed him, except when I didn’t. I saw the little faces when the milk got spilled one too many times, and my frustration got the better of me. I heard myself say things that didn't bring the life I so wanted to give. I saw the moments slipping by and joy along with them. I needed hope. I needed change. I needed grace.
I didn't need grace to excuse my failures. I needed grace to give me the hope to change. At my core, I believed that God was standing with His arms folded shaking His head in disgust when I would slip up. I believed God's view of me was dependent on my performance. I think many of us truly believe that. I knew in my mind that was wrong thinking, but we can always see what we really believe by looking at our lives and how we are actually functioning. It was evident that this was who I believed Him to be in the way I responded to my own failure. I mirrored who I truly believed God to be to my children. I responded to their failure the same way I believed God responded to mine. If you aren't living in grace, you can't give grace. You just can't. We live out of the abundance of what He's given us, and if we don't know what we have, we can't give it away (I John 4:19).
It is true that God wants us to respond with patience, kindness, and grace, but that is because that is what brings freedom and the truth is—that is what we want too. God is for freedom both for us and our families (Galatians 5:1). Some would say that His grace just covers our sinful responses as if it only cancels it out, but His grace is so much bigger and better than that (Galatians 5:13).
He can CHANGE our sinful responses (Galatians 5:16-18). His grace is our path to wholeness and freedom. It is the way we can live the way He actually intended us to live. His arms opened wide on the cross, and that is where we can run when our failures loom large (Galatians 1:4). This God who knows every broken and sinful place in us has a remedy. He is the restoring God who knows how to bring wholeness to the very broken places in our lives. Our wrong responses show places that need His hand. If our response is to hide in shame, we do not understand His love or His grace. Grace doesn't just cover us, it changes us. Knowing His heart for us makes the difference between freedom and bondage, joy and sadness, hope and despair.
Sweet mom, when you are laying on your pillow at night and the thoughts come flooding in, do not allow the thoughts of shame and despair consume you. Those are not thoughts from the One who loves you. Those are thoughts from your own mind or from the one who wants to destroy your soul. When the thoughts come—and they will, my friend—ask the One who knows your heart to come near. Ask Him for His thoughts. Ask Him for His forgiveness. Ask Him for His grace. You are not a slave, but a daughter (Galatians 4:6-7).
Word of the Day:
My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself up for me. (Galatians 2:20, NLT)
Father, thank You that You see all of me. There is not a part of me or a part of my day that is hidden from You. Please forgive me for the responses that I have and help me to see Your heart for me. I know that You are kind and good, but sometimes it is hard for me to really believe that. Please do what you need to do in me to make me see You more clearly. I want what You want for my life. I choose You over my shame and guilt. I choose to trust You and who You say You are.
Author: Wendy Gerdes