Thankful, so thankful, for the friends God has given to walk this long road.
This is the Beech family, and we count them among our dearest friends. Our kids are a bit interchangeable; you can find theirs at our house and ours at their house. Cheryl is a second mom to our oldest kids, and they like her better than me because she's a great Italian and she feeds them lots of good stuff.
I'm introducing you to Cheryl today because I asked her to write a note to you, dear young mom. I wanted you to hear the encouragement of a mom who has been where you are. A mom who has given up a career that offered her (literally) fame and noteriety, a mom who had her three kids in under three years, a mom who homeschooled, struggled through a rough first patch of marriage, and who now is walking alongside two kids in college and one in her senior year of high school at home. She hasn't always felt like a good mom. Me neither.
My mantra after I became a Christian when my children were young and someone would compliment their behavior or attitude was always, “It is despite me and by Gods grace only”. I honestly believed this with every thing in me, but do not for one minute be fooled to think that in the quiet places of my heart and ego I was not basking in the praise.
The truth is my identity as a mom is very tightly knit into the fabric of who, what, how, when, where, and why my children are who they are and do what they do.
During times of exemplary behavior I find it easy to praise and credit God and remove myself from the picture. But what about times of struggle, mis-behavior, bad choices, public sin? An interesting dynamic happens; I become an utter failure. On all fronts.
I have failed the Lord because I did not follow His commands closely enough. I become personally responsible for ruining the current and future life of the child at hand and to be sure that of all the children in my household and under my parental influence. I talk too much. I yell even more. I damaged his masculinity, his self esteem. He is ill-equipped for all of life because of me and this is why a particular sin or sin habit exists in his life.
HMMM . . . what just happened here?
Where did my God of grace, mercy, and love go? Where did my God who supplies all my need hide? How did I manage to push Him off the throne and put myself there in His place?
Is it my view of myself? Is it my view of God? Or is it my wrong view of both?
The truth is, it is both. If God is Sovereign in the good of life, He is Sovereign in the struggles, the sin, and the ugliness of life or He is not Sovereign at all. As Joseph told his brothers, “You meant it for evil but God meant it for good”. This is true in mine and my children’s lives as well.
Biblically speaking, trials, struggles, and even sin is an opportunity for God to sift the chaffe from the wheat, to grow us, refine us, and conform us to the image of Jesus. It is an opportunity for us to grow in His grace. Because He loves us, He chastens us. It is through the trials that we realize our desperate need and His far-reaching love, grace, mercy, goodness, and kindness. That we and our children can do nothing apart from Him and any good we do is as a filthy rag if not for Jesus.
So, sweet mama who may be struggling right now with a disappointing situation with one of your children, remember Who alone is able. Remember Who alone is faithful and just. Remember Who alone will complete the work that HE began in your child and in you. And remember, it is still despite you and by God’s grace alone.