Embracing Grace in Motherhood: Krista Horton
We live in a world where we're surrounded by loud voices telling us how we should mother. These so-called ''experts” have advice on everything from how we should potty train our toddler, to how many extracurricular activities are best for our teenager.
Too often this noisy trap lures me in, and sometimes I just can’t get out! I kid you not, in one day alone each of these thoughts have come through my mind (and excuse the food analogies, but with so many mouths to feed day in and day out I think A LOT about food): “We need to eat Paleo”, “I should be making chocolate chip cookies with my kids at least once a week”, “ I need to raise my own chickens”, “I need to feed my kids less sugar! No more candy, ever!”, “Let’s go pick up some donuts!”, “My kids aren’t getting enough meat! They need more protein!”, “We must become vegans, it’s the only real healthy option!”, “We need to live on a farm and raise our own cattle.”
These voices are so loud, so contradictory and so confusing!
However, God doesn’t want us to be confused about what we should be doing in our homes or families; what he does want us to do is to "be good and getting better.” But how do we escape the loud voices to seek what God would have us be, and also find peace as we deal with our own imperfections?
God is there to be our guide, to direct and lead us to find what is perfect for us. And along the way, he has offered us the perfect gift that gives us peace and patience as we progress. Paul taught,
Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, [hath] given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace.
— 2 Thessalonians 2:16
Grace is what allows us to cut through the noise in the world, and see ourselves and our circumstances, (and our children!) as he does. Grace allows us to be patient with our own progress, no matter how small or how imperceptible to others. Grace is what helps to to see ourselves as God sees us, for He knows us even better than we know ourselves! Grace also allows us to see our children as God sees them, for He knows them so much better than we do too.
Yet it is up to us to accept and embrace his grace! We can do this by noticing him in our lives and seeking to understand his teachings. We cannot let ourselves become so numb with the loud shouting of the world, that we forget to tune in to Christ. Christ himself warned us of this condition when he said,
For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
— Matthew 13:15
Just like those ancient followers, if we want to embrace his grace and understand his truths, we must to open our eyes, ears and hearts, and allow him to heal us! I say this from my own mother heart because I have experienced his miraculous and tender grace teaching me, as I have sought him with questions on behalf of my family, myself and my children.
One example of God teaching me as I reached out to him came when I realized the enemy of my own mothering capabilities was myself. I was being so hard on myself, it seemed like nothing I was doing was as good as what I was seeing other moms do on social media. I hit a real low feeling at one point, but as I prayed for help, the thought came to my mind “you are in charge.” It was then I was taught that I was letting too many outside voices dictate my thoughts. I realized how powerful my thoughts were, and how they directly impacted my feelings, and that there was always something running through my mind. I felt that I needed to start taking control of them by feeding myself good things, and stop worrying about what others were doing. I know that if I was seeking God, he would show me the way. “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9).
Another lesson God taught me came in response to what I have since called "the great motherhood debate." Shortly after I had my first child I had a constant struggle between things like doing dishes or playing with my children, between sweeping the floor or heading outside to blow bubbles, between getting some “me time” or reading another book before bed. I suppose this debate may never be settled, really. But I did learn that God cares about even the simplest moments and can give me specific instruction about which choice I should make. Although the answer will most likely be different each time, I believe that as we take time to listen, look and understand he will help us to find the best use of our time as mothers. I’ve seen it.
God has also taught me to savor each stage of motherhood. A mother in my congregation who has nine grown children once mentioned her “childbearing years” in passing. I groaned inside my head to think that I was only in the beginning of my “childbearing years” and, based on the struggles I'd had so far with one child, I might never make it to two children (let alone nine!). I was feeling insufficient, still recovering from the pains of childbirth and confused about who I was supposed to be now that I had someone else with me every moment. Slowly, inch by inch, grace by grace, God has used this moment as the beginning of one of the most important mothering lessons I have learned yet. Moments pass quickly, even “childbearing years” pass quickly, and that enjoying the moment we are in, whatever moment that may be, reduces heartache and stress for us and our family.
These are just my own small examples of what God's grace has taught me about mothering, but I am learning that when those loud voices of the world creep in I can instead turn and embrace the grace God offers. His grace truly is sufficient. It is always there. It is the answer every time. I know when we are seeking, listening and allowing our hearts to be taught God will answer. I’ve seen it time and time again. And although I’m not perfect, I am “doing good and getting better” and I know that’s all He really asks.