I am one spoiled daughter!
I am one spoiled daughter!
“I feel like such a failure. I’m a horrible mom and a terrible wife. I’m exhausted, depressed, and overwhelmed.”
Sound like a mom you know? How would you counsel this woman? What gospel-centered words would you give her? Maybe you are that mom. As your soul’s counselor, how do you apply the gospel?
So often, in our sincere desire to be gospel-centered, we skip over a biblical diagnosis and assume we know what the problem is.
“You’re caught in the performance trap,” we tell the discouraged mom. “You just need to remember that God’s approval isn’t based on your performance. He loves you, in spite of all your failures. He doesn’t expect you to do it all or be a perfect wife or mom. You just need to rest in God’s grace.”
True, to a point.
But Scripture trains us to be more careful counselors, to apply the varied grace of God appropriately to various mothering discouragements:
“[A]dmonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all” (1 Thes. 5:14).
In other words, gospel-centered counsel looks different for different counselees.
“Discouraged Mom” may, in fact, be experiencing genuine conviction for anger or impatience or some other area of sin in her mothering. She may need an exhortation to repent and encouragement in the grace of God available to help her to grow (1 John 1:9).
Or a mom may be discouraged because she is comparing herself to other moms or cultural expectations of motherhood. She may need to hear our Savior’s words, “What is that to you, you follow me?” (John. 21:22)
Maybe a mom is looking to her children’s performance as the measurement of her mothering success. She may need to be reminded of her call is just to be faithful, and to trust God with the fruit. Her children’s sin isn’t the final measurement of her motherhood (Gal. 6:9).
Often a discouraged mom is an exhausted mom. She needs a good night sleep and an hour in God’s Word.
I could go on, but point is, gospel-centered counseling doesn’t make a blank check out to grace and hand it over to a discouraged mom. We must be diligent to discern the specific gospel-truth that applies to a particular discouraged mom in her unique situation.
So whether we’re counseling a friend or our own soul, let’s be wise, gospel-centered counselors.
This is a book for pastors, which is why I wanted to tell you about it. I’m not sure if the author meant it to encourage ordinary moms like you and me, but it certainly does.
“In Jesus, we do not do away with possessing an ambition for great things” writes Dr. Eswine, “Rather we learn in him to make sure that the greatness we strive for is the kind that he values.”
Sensing Jesus doesn’t merely teach us why we should value the ordinary and mundane, it awakens an appreciation for the humility and honor of our humanity in Christ.
And while this truth is important for pastors, it is also significant for our ministry as mothers. For we live in a culture that disdains and devalues all that is mundane, ordinary, and obscure about our calling to raise the next generation to the honor and glory of Jesus Christ.
One of the reasons I love this book is because Dr. Eswine describes in beautiful prose a godly manner of life that I have seen in my mother and grandmother:
Contentment and gratitude for God’s gifts—family, community, food, a loved and loving home, laughter.
Courage and conviction to live by the Word of God alone, day in and day out, whether in difficulty or obscurity.
Commitment to one man and ones own children for the sake of Jesus Christ.
Humility that doesn’t strive for glory apart from faithfully following the Savior.
There is a weightiness and a wealth in this legacy of ordinary faithfulness; and like fireflies in a Mason jar, Sensing Jesus captures this glory in the ordinary for us to marvel at and emulate:
“Therefore, those of you searching for something larger, faster, and more significant, who feel that if you could just be somewhere else doing something else as somebody else, then your life would really matter—Jesus has come to confound you… He may call you to courageously prize what is overlooked and mundane among those whose cravings for the next and the now might cause them to soon overlook you…”
So my fellow “overlooked” moms, let’s come to the only “Remembered One” because “being remembered by him means we no longer fear being forgotten by the world. Living humanly within his remembrance is enough.”
Playing “real” house.
A few months ago, when the weather was mild and our kids were playing together at a park, Janelle and I chatted about writing a few mothering posts for the blog.
“I don’t know,” she hesitated, when I pitched the idea. “I am very aware of my sins and shortcomings as a mom.”
“Me too!” I agreed. “But maybe that’s why we should write about it. If nothing else it will challenge us to be more faithful mothers.”
“I guess so,” she agreed, before calling to our children that it was time to go. A chorus of complaints met this announcement and we both looked at each other and laughed. “Yep, we’ve got a lot of work to do!”
We aren’t perfect mothers and we don’t pretend to be.
But that doesn’t mean we are content with imperfect. The mothering bar we’re aiming for is high. It has been set in place by God himself: “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt. 5:48).
As moms we must be humble and admit we fall short of the bar of mothering perfection. Very. Far. Short. We are not always patient with our children. We are not always faithful to teach and train and discipline. We give in to selfishness, anger, laziness, and grumbling.
That’s why a mother who is grounded in the gospel looks two ways. She really does have eyes in the back of her head.
A gospel-centered mom first looks back to her justification in Christ. She remembers that all of her mothering sins and shortcomings have been nailed to the cross of Jesus Christ. That he became sin for her that in him she might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21).
But she doesn’t stop there. The gospel-centered mom looks forward too. She strives with the Holy Spirit’s power that works within her to be perfect as her heavenly Father is perfect. She stands on the ground of forgiveness and accesses grace—through God’s Word, through counsel from godly women, and through prayer—to grow as a mom. To be more patient, more joyful, more consistent, more loving. To be perfect.
Moms need grace. We need grace to admit that we are weak and grace to not settle into those weaknesses. We need grace that frees and forgives and grace that gives power to grow.
“Hope itself is like a star—not to be seen in the sunshine of prosperity, and only to be discovered in the night of adversity.”
11:08 a.m. This is how I found him. My sick little man.