Do any of you moms feel like you’ve changed since having children? I mean, drastically changed?
Recently, my oldest daughter turned 3 years old which marks 3 years that I have been a parent. Three years might not seem like much, however to me it already feels like it’s been an eternity. In these past few years, I feel that I have changed so much based on how much I have learned already.
When I was a new mom, I was also a new wife, and a new believer. I jumped headfirst into life, it felt like. My life was in the fast forward motion for a few years, and I was riding that high of life. There were so many blessings that came my way, but I also made a lot of mistakes. That’s the gist of life, isn’t it?
Yes, I had a lot on my plate, but I accepted the challenge and naively expected the outcome to be glorious. I put a high expectation on how my life was to turn out, and I struggled with disappointment when things didn’t happen the way they were supposed to. See, what it boils down to is that I put a heavy emphasis on myself and others, instead of trusting God. I believed that in order to be the best person I could be all I had to do was follow these specific guidelines I read in publications I was given, and all would be well. I didn’t take grace into account. I placed so much pressure on myself and these methods, instead of trusting God and knowing I have grace for the times I fail. This applied to many areas of my life, raising kids being one of them.
As a mother now, I can see a new parent a mile away. They worry about every little thing, and hope they can do everything by the book. I was there. That was me for the longest time. Granted, I only have two kids so far, so I’m no expert. However, it is important to me to share my story, and let other moms know how important it is to have grace upon grace, and not focus too heavily on principles.
I feel ashamed when I think back to the times I didn’t show other moms grace, or I didn’t think it towards them at least. I would see kids visibly acting out, and I would think to myself “if only they read the book I had, then they wouldn’t have naughty kids.” I would feel the need to preach what I have learned, or give them a copy of some publication that I was introduced to. You might be reading this thinking “what’s the wrong in that?” There isn’t wrong in sharing a method if it works for you, if you do it out of grace. If you are doing it out of your piousness, you are being a pharisee, and not exemplifying grace but rather your own desire to fix people to your own views.
Recently, someone I was speaking to about this laid out the meaning of parenthood very simply for me. They explained how we are all born sinners and born to make mistakes and it’s the parents job to teach their kids to the best of their ability how to try to overcome that and show them God’s love and mercy. That takes an incredible amount of work, believe me. I used to picture children as being clean slates when they are born, and it’s irrevocably the parents responsibility for the behavior of their children as they develop. If I would see a child misbehaving, I used to think “that parent isn’t doing a proper job.” I have to say, that this pressure placed solely on the parents came through reading some publications that were given to me as a new mom. I was so young and immature, it’s true. Anything anyone gave me, especially from someone who was older and wiser, I took for complete certainty and I did not check scriptures or go to God with it. That was my mistake.
I’ve learned that when pressure is put on “man,” or in other words “in ourselves” to do what we think is right by own will, it takes our focus away from God. I’ve started to pay attention to how people get consumed by ideas, and how it’s seemingly easier for people to follow a set of guidelines, instead of letting go and trusting God. We don’t like being vulnerable by nature, so we gravitate towards something with a structure that is already set out for us. Living in uncertainty is, well, uncertain. Trusting God is easier said than done.
I still see the value in reading publications to help guide us, especially if we are new at what we are doing. Most likely, a lot of the material we read will have a great deal of wonderful advice. I have to say, I am very grateful for some of the things I have learned from reading publications, and I do believe that has shaped who I am as a mother today. That being said, I don’t discredit any publications that are out there from their potential to be useful, it just becomes a scary thing when we start putting more emphasis on them than we do on God. And what exactly does that mean? What I mean is if the certain magazine or book on child training is being pulled out more than the Bible is, or if you are criticizing other parents more than you are praying for them, or if you are saying that “if only the author of this book were here they would tell you..” instead of saying “if only God was here right now He would tell you..” if you are doing any of those things or hearing any of those things, you should be weary. God gives us so much grace, and we are so undeserving at times, so why wouldn’t you show that to someone else? Remember that we are prone to wander, so reign yourself in and draw closer to God. Don’t let yourself- your human nature- distract you from what is most important. Everything you hear or read, compare to the scriptures, and not just the small excerpts of verses you see in a book or magazine, but actually pull out the Bible and read that verse in context. Pray about it. Talk to your spouse about it. See if that method or suggestion fits with your family. Every child, every home, every parent, are all different. God made not one of us the same as anyone else. Isn’t that amazing? Remember that when you chose what is right for your family, and when you extend grace to those that are different than you are.
If parenting were easy, or any other area of life for that matter, there would be no need for God at all. Parenting isn’t a walk in the park. If anyone ever tells you that if you just follow these certain rules or guidelines then you’ll be perfect, be weary. If anyone ever tells you that their opinion is the best and everyone else’s is wrong, be weary. No one, not one, is perfect. If we were, there would be no need for God at all. The only words to trust whole heartedly are God’s words.
65 Do good to your servant
according to your word, Lord.
66 Teach me knowledge and good judgment,
for I trust your commands.
67 Before I was afflicted I went astray,
but now I obey your word.
68 You are good, and what you do is good;
teach me your decrees.
69 Though the arrogant have smeared me with lies,
I keep your precepts with all my heart.
70 Their hearts are callous and unfeeling,
but I delight in your law.
71 It was good for me to be afflicted
so that I might learn your decrees.
72 The law from your mouth is more precious to me
than thousands of pieces of silver and gold.
Psalm 119 verses 65-72
It is good for us to be afflicted. Going through hard times helps us learn and draw closer to God. I have been through so much change in the past few years; in my walk with God, in my marriage, and as a parent. I now know to be weary of becoming a pharisee, a “know it all” and instead give other moms grace. Grace upon grace. Prayer upon prayer. The feeling of piousness is tiresome. Looking at others with that mindset is tiresome. Humility is a trait I desire to have, especially as a mother. I know I will continue to be refined through more trials as time goes on. We honestly won’t rest in complete peace until we go to heaven! We will constantly need Jesus. I know I will continue to learn much more in the years to come. Being a parent is one of life’s purest joys and the amount of happiness my daughters bring me is really indescribable; a true gift. My girls are so precious to me. I love waking up each day to see their smiling faces. Everyday is an adventure with my girls, full of ups and downs. The downs are a given, but the ups are what make it all worthwhile. Take the load off your shoulders and give it to God, pray more, trust Him more, read your bible more, and teach your children about God and his love, grace, mercy more. Enjoy your children, for this time in their lives, as well as yours with them, is fleeting.