The emails keep coming. Moms who regret the harshness in their homes. Moms who say they camped too long on the wrath of God and their kids' behavior. Moms who are grieving older kids who have walked away. Moms who feel burnt out, strung out, weary, and fake. Moms who want to be freed from the pressure of living up to a standard they think is a measure of their parenting success. Moms who feel guilty every time they read another homeschool magazine, especially the kind bent on making you fearful.
And I ache when I read what you write, because those feelings of being burnt out and fake and like a secret, constant failure were where I lived for a decade. I was never good enough, my kids were never good enough, and though there was a lot of love in our home, there was a lot of hurt and discouragement all the way around. There was rarely any real grace.
She wrote this:
"I find that in wearing so many hats daily that I lack joy (and peace, and self-control, and goodness . . . just to name a few) and I get overwhelmed and feel "on edge" at the slightest things. I worry that my "freak-out" moments are going to deeply and permanently scar my poor kids! I am a yeller. My Mom yelled a lot and I find myself doing the same. I realize I am being vulnerably honest here, and I'm praying that grace you speak of will spill all over me! lol
Anyhow, I just want to be free of the laborious trappings of doing all in my own strength. What does it really look like, on a daily basis, to yield to the Holy Spirit and let Him "drive the bus" so to speak, in your opinion??"
I love her for writing that, because I know she is putting into words what so many of you are feeling.
My answer to her, to you, is mind-numbingly simple. It's Jesus. It's the gospel. It's the knowledge that what He did for me at Calvary was enough, is enough, will always be enough for me, for my marriage, and for my children. It will be enough for my grandchildren, too.
When I looked to the things I did to give me an identity (I'm a singer! Oh look! Now I'm a college student! Now I'm a mom. Now I'm a homeschooling mom!), I felt defeated by the descriptors because I was also placing my hope in those things to make me accepted by the people who ran in those circles, fullfilled because of what I was doing, valuable because of what I could produce, and loved because I was performing well.
But the gospel tells me something else entirely. The gospel tells me that I had been created by God, fallen into sin, been redeemed by the Savior, and am restored to God by what Jesus has already done for me. In that way, it is finished. There is nothing - nothing - that I can add to it to be more significant, more loved, more secure, more godly, more holy, or more acceptable to him. Because when God looks at me, He sees Jesus. You, too.
The godliness, goodness, and holiness come by being the branch grafted so sturdily into the vine that the fruit begins to bud in beauty and in truth, not because I as the branch willed to produce fruit, decided to produce fruit, or chose the right way to live. Buds don't up and blossom in their own strength. They blossom because they have learned to rely on and rest in thevine.
Rest in the vine. That's all. It's simple - far more simple than we make it. Every day I have to remind myself of where my identity lies. Every day I look to something other than my Savior to make me feel significant, and every day I have to say, "Kenj, your identity is in Jesus." There, only there, do I feel so wrapped in His love and can I rest in His perfection. And then you know what? I get to turn and pour that out all over my kids!