From painting to distressing to pallet art to you name it, I love crafting. That doesn’t mean that I’m especially talented at it, but I find plenty of joy in doing it. Pinterest has made DIY projects a craze, and boy am I glad to have a plethora of resources out there to fit my liking! But there’s this terrible temptation to make motherhood a DIY project too, and for that, I can sometimes find myself in a poor state.
Motherhood is this really messy, at times exhausting, joy-enhancing, hug-filled, sin-revealing call from God to invest our life in souls he has given us for his glory. It’s a privilege. There’s no room for DIY in that (or any area of life for that matter). But fact of the matter is, there’s this huge temptation for it. We are bent towards self-reliance.
There’s just not a plausible formula out there to do it right…by ourselves. There’s no self-motivating activity that can muster strength for mothering because let’s be honest- we all have our mommy meltdowns, mommy guilt, etc. and the big gut-wrenching reality is that we will keep having them. Thus, mothers must find a well to draw strength from that will last through all the diaper blow-outs and potty-training woes.
Over the past four years that Josh and I have been in small groups with other believers, a reoccurring question has surfaced in my heart:
Who am I fooling?
I can try and paint my life to be this way and when someone looks at it from just the right angle they could get a false impression. I don’t have this marriage thing down. I don’t have this motherhood thing down. And frankly, I don’t know who does because we are all in desperate need of grace to be images of Jesus to our children and those around us.
I recently read a post concerning the many sayings people believe are from the Bible that actually are not. The old adage that “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle” couldn’t be more unbiblical. He does. God isn’t sitting back waiting for us to be in utter peril so that he can swoop in and help. We are already in that peril due to our fallen nature. Our actions push God away and our mouths reject him. It is the sheer grace of God to reveal the gospel of Jesus Christ to us, providing saving faith that we are unable to muster on our own. Even after the point of salvation, we continuously face circumstances and sin problems that we are unable to go up against. I love the old hymn “I Need Thee Every Hour.” The refrain often finds a sweet place in my chaos:
I need Thee, oh, I need Thee;
Every hour I need Thee;
Oh, bless me now, my Savior,
I come to Thee.
We literally need God constantly. God wants us to come to him for everything. EVERYTHING. Especially when it comes to his little ones.
“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God” (Psalms 20:7).
“Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead” (2 Corinthians 1:9).
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).
My heart moves in and out of faithfulness, and I am tempted to work outside of the power of God which ends in soul devastation. But it’s a necessity to make reliance on God our heart’s posture. These children given to us are souls we are to be shepherding. To think that we, in all our sinfulness, can do it ourselves is silly. Stop trying. I am certain that what Jesus has done for us is surely enough.
This passage describes the situation of our souls and what God has done, full of love and grace, to save us from ourselves in Christ:
“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience- among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ-by grace you have been saved- and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:1-10).
When I consider this reality, trying to be a mother with my own strength seems pretty foolish. That’s because it is. I have to fix my mind each morning on the joy and strength I have in Jesus to accomplish the tasks God has given me. When the piles of folded laundry get “sorted” by a helping toddler or an expected nap never happened because of a teething baby, it’s okay because I’m not in this motherhood thing alone. God cares about all the daily things that I encounter. And he cares about yours as well. They aren’t silly and unimportant. You aren’t expected to just grit your teeth and get through it. What we are expected to do is this:
Through all the uncertainties and inabilities we have while mothering our children, God has none. Edward Payson provides such a clear description of what our role truly is:
“The first thing implied in educating children for God is a realizing, heartfelt conviction that they are His property, His children, rather than ours.”
And there we have it. We are simply given gifts to uphold as sacred, belonging to God, and invest our lives in counting on Christ’s finished work rather than any vain attempts of our own. What a relief.