After twelve years of marriage, multiple surgeries and a diagnosis of barrenness, five failed adoptions, then finally pregnancy and the death of our first born, you can imagine that when I held my first miracle baby girl in my arms I was one of “those” moms. You know the ones I mean. The ones that are afraid of what they will do to their children. Afraid of scarring them for life by doing something wrong. Afraid of saying the wrong thing. Afraid of parenting wrongly. Afraid of not following the “parent rule book.” So my quest was on. I read every book available concerning my role. I was determined!
You, of course, know how it went. I had the one child who was so small she ate every 45 minutes because she was four pounds and got really tired before she got full so, she would fall asleep and then need to be fed once again. The cycle was endless. Six weeks into the parenting world, I was sleep deprived. I didn’t even know my name. I was exhausted and completely helpless. This was just the beginning. When you are this kind of mom, you work harder, sleep less, worry more and are just generally a nervous wreck. You wear a mask of “I’m put together, can’t you see?” Everything you do is based on performance and acceptance. This adds up to one huge ball of nerves and at any given moment, a meltdown!
As I struggled through those early years, I had not just one but several meltdowns. Most of them secretly, but several with my girls. There are numerous stories of me “losing it” and the girls catching the brunt of it all. Our great enemy loved it, and I hated myself as a parent more and more. The feelings of utter failure prevailed and secretly I thought that my girls would be scarred for life. I took on more and more as I continued the spiral of guilt and condemnation.
I realize that my complete transparency can be uncomfortable, but the truth is, I have met many of you just like me since those days. Oh how I wish someone would have stopped the insanity with me! I wish someone would have taken the risk and just been honest with me. I don’t know if I would have heeded all the wisdom or encouragement but maybe, just maybe, I would have stopped the insanity sooner.
“So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.” Romans 8:1-2 NLT
Here’s what happens when we focus on our “failures” as a mom:
1. We only see failure when we focus on the failures.
2. We constantly compare our parenting to others.
3. The enemy condemns us or we just condemn ourselves, and the enemy loves this.
4. Fear of failing as a parent can and will keep you from becoming the mom God wants you to be.
5. We will never measure up to our standards and we will miss what God has for us.
There was a day of reckoning for me. In a story too long to write about here the Lord brought me to a place of recognition. He loved me not because I was a perfect mom but because I was HIS DAUGHTER! I remember that day I truly grasped the fact that HE LOVED ME. Not just for salvation, but because He loved me. It set me free. He loved me and knew where I was failing. I began to focus on His love for me. I did a radical thing. I set aside all the parenting books and I just began to pray asking my Abba Daddy God to guide me with my girls.
Here’s what happens when we focus on the Lord and His guidance as we parent:
1. We look at our parenting through the filter of the Holy Spirit everyday.
2. We realize that He is our guide for parenting.
3. No need for performance when you are accepted by the God of this universe.
4. When we are wrong, we seek His forgiveness for the failures.
5. When we wrong our children, we seek our children’s forgiveness.
6. Long conversations replace emotional melt downs.
7. Teachable moments for you and your child are a regular occurrence.
8. Peace becomes a common emotion in your home.
9. Confidence in your ability to parent becomes the norm.
10. The awareness of Gods’ pleasure and guidance is felt by you.
Fast forward—my girls are almost 20 and 18. Those early years are memories. It is amazing to me that in the past few weeks these girls have shared many of their favorite stories from childhood—the same stories I have seen as failures. The same stories that I was sure had scarred them for life. As I’ve listened there has been laughter. These stories have become part of the fabric of their growing up years—lessons that they learned as they grew up. They have laughed. They have teased me. We have laughed together. Family memories redeemed by our Abba.
Failures surrendered, forgiven and redeemed.
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