Friday, March 22, 2013

Confessions Of A Not-So-Perfect Mother

Do you ever feel like this mom? I thought the picture was great! I've got to admit, sometimes I feel this is how I sound to my kids. I hate it, then wonder, why on earth can't I get it together as a mom? The truth about how we feel about ourselves and how we're actually doing can be worlds apart. But I want you to know I have a lot of empathy for moms and dads that feel overwhelmed. I had actually posted this article quite some time ago, and recently I deleted it off of my previous posts. I don’t know why I did that, because I re-read it and think it has a lot of good points. I’m re-posting it again.

There are some things I think people take for granted. There are certain things that we never stop to think about and just take for granted that they should come naturally, like breathing. Take parenting, for instance.

Many men and women become parents every day. Some by choice and others by chance, but does anyone ever stop to think, “Can I really do this?” “Will I be any good at it?” Why do some people come by something naturally that others do not?

In writing this article, I had to ask myself, “Will I allow myself to be vulnerable before others…can I admit to a truth I don’t want to share, in order for God to use that weakness for His benefit? It’s a question we all have to ask from time to time. Will we allow others to see into our lives - the real us - so that our transparency can help them right where they may be struggling? I had to come to grips with that uneasiness when I decided to take my struggle to an altar call and ask for prayer. You know, we need to be able to ask for prayer and be clear about what we need. I hesitated at first out of fear of what others might think. I didn’t want to admit I’m not always I want to be. It can be a bit intimidating to confess to someone else that you feel like a failure at times. Especially when mothering is supposed to just come naturally to women, right? But for some, it doesn’t.

People have a variety of struggles and issues in life and not everyone gets the optimum home life as children. The internal dynamics of family relationships and how people relate to one another has a lot to do with whether or not some people are just naturally nurturing, compassionate, well adjusted, loving people. There were more than a few things wrong with my early home life that I have taken great steps to overcome for quite some time. People can learn to be different, and yes, better than what they once were; but learning to be someone different and what comes naturally from the heart are not the same. For me, and maybe for someone else reading this article, there are many things that seem awkward and more stressful than they need to be. This has been one area of my deepest pain and longing, to be different towards my children and not always feel like I’m struggling to be a calm and relaxed parent.  

I love my kids dearly, but some things just don‘t come naturally.  I wish they did. I know of some world class moms and I’ve always yearned to be like them, but what comes naturally to some people just doesn’t come as easily to others. I admit I don’t have the patience I would like to have, and I often feel like I’m struggling to make motherhood work. I have a tendency to be a “Martha,“ and get fussy and frustrated when things aren’t perfect. Everyone else is affected by a performance driven person, and that makes for a lot of crazy. I hate to admit it, but somehow it feels like I got overlooked when it came to inheriting that sweet mommy gene. It doesn’t help that I have two daughters very different in age and yet they both seem to have that “gift” already in them while I often feel a lot like Diane Keaton in the movie, Babyboom. What happened there? How did they get “the gift” and I feel like I got passed over? Some things just feel strained, but I‘m learning it‘s more about me than about their behavior. Home school has been a stretch on my patience like you wouldn’t believe, but I recognize it as one of the tools that God has used to change my heart and help me become the person He wants me to be. He’s used it to break me, remold me and create a dependence on Him for grace. Oh, how thankful I am for His grace! But there was a lot of anxiety, frustration and sleepless nights before I was able to start walking in that grace because He was bringing me to an end of myself. I had to be willing to yield, not just look for ways how to avoid the thing I didn’t feel so overjoyed about doing. The breakthrough finally came one day when I told the Lord that either He needed to give me the grace to do it or let me off the hook. I really thought I was not called to do it and He would agree with me! I was so convinced I was not supposed to be home schooling! Well, I don't have to tell you what happened, do I? He didn’t let me off the hook! But He did give me His grace to have a change of heart and decide that I wanted to keep trying, and that made all the difference in the world.

Becoming a better mom is one of the things I have prayed for often. What I didn’t stop to think about is the way that God always picks a day to show up out of the blue and answer our prayers. He shows us things about ourselves in order for us to see the truth and accept it for what it is, which is the first step. The wonderful thing about Him is that He never condemns or makes us feel bad about ourselves, and He doesn’t stop with just identifying the problem; He wants us to be healed.

Jesus had  an encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well. This story is about the Jesus that knows our name, and knows us so intimately that He stops what He is doing to encounter a woman with an issue. She needed to be known - and loved. Many people do things every day because deep inside them they are longing to be known, longing to be heard, seen…loved and accepted. They might not know how to verbalize it, so instead they fall into behaviors that try to satisfy that internal longing. I know most people don’t even realize they’re doing it when they try to satisfy their longings through illegitimate means. We all have them. We do things for so long until it’s a part of us that feels normal when in fact it really is a sign of our need for internal healing. Many of these things we do so long that the behaviors become addictions, and then we cannot deliver ourselves. We need help getting free and healed. It doesn’t have to be drugs, alcohol or gambling to be an addiction. Busyness or activities that come from being in internal overdrive; seeking the approval or attention of others, trying to fulfill a sense of purpose outside of Christ and the many things we all do will never be a substitute for relationship. Even trying to attain what seems like good goals will never be a substitute for relationship with God. It still leaves a person empty, dry and unfulfilled. The woman at the well was one of those people. She tried unsuccessfully to fulfill a need to be known, accepted and loved through relationships, but still looking for love in all the wrong places. Five husbands later and still no fulfillment of her greatest need...until Jesus showed up. He didn’t condemn her for her current status, but He let her know He knew her. He offered her a drink from a well so deep she would never thirst again. She wouldn’t have to live unfulfilled and continuously longing to have her deepest need for relationship met. Once the drink was offered, it was up to her if she wanted to accept it.

This is how He meets every one of us, and when we least expect it, I might add. You may encounter the Lord through a message at church, or it may be somewhere else. He is in your midst already. He identifies our weaknesses and source of pain and longing, then waits for your response. You see, it’s not just the message that heals. Often times it requires a response of humility and faith to ask for our healing, and to go submit ourselves to someone else for prayer. Friend, when was the last time you asked God to heal you? When was the last time you were really afraid to be transparent with God and someone else and admit your need? Because the thing you’re afraid you can’t admit to anyone else is the thing the Lord wants to heal. If we’re too proud to be transparent, fearing what others will think of us, we hold on to our own faults and shortcomings and hinder our ability to be healed, for God resists the proud. When God touched this area of my life, I had to stomp on my pride and submit myself to be prayed for by someone I didn’t know. That was my crossroads. But what I encountered was a God encounter. The woman who prayed for me was an older woman with grown children. She didn’t give advice. She didn’t counsel. She didn’t condemn, and she didn’t look shocked that I confessed my weakness in of all things, motherhood. Her prayer was for a mother’s heart to be imparted. She also reminded me that things don’t have to be perfect. Ahh…that darn Martha spirit! She hit the nail right on the head with that one. I hate admitting my weakness, but my weakness in one area doesn’t mean that I am any less of an anointed woman of God. The power of Christ in me still makes demons tremble. I know who I am in Christ, but I’m still learning about my strengths and weaknesses every day. My lack of “perfection” doesn’t make the Lord turn away from me. It doesn’t even hinder me from impacting others with the reality of the Kingdom of God right where I am. So, don’t let it hinder you, either. People of this world need the Christ in you. I also know that many parents, whether they are moms or dads, sisters, brothers, grandparents, aunts or uncles raising other family members,  struggle with feelings of inadequacy in this area. They struggle because they didn’t have the role models they needed or something vital in their upbringing was missing. They struggle because broken people parented them and they brought that brokenness into their own family. They struggle because maybe there wasn’t the bonding that needed to take place to make things come more naturally. Or maybe it’s not a child that you gave birth to, and try as you might, you can’t change the fact that something is still missing in your relationship. There could be a lot of reasons. I want you to know you don’t have to carry that burden. You don’t have to struggle. I believe it’s a God-given gift to have good parenting come naturally, and when it doesn’t, it’s because the enemy came to steal something vital from you and your loved ones. You need to be honest with yourself but you owe it to your family, too. They need you to be honest about where you’re weak, and let God heal that area and turn it into a great strength. But it won’t come from an illegitimate source. Like the Samaritan woman, or the woman with the issue of blood, or Zacchaeus, the blind man that received his sight, or the many other people that Jesus touched; it can only come from a personal encounter. We need to let go of our preconceived ideas about what that encounter looks like or we might tend to overlook it altogether, but He works through human vessels. He puts the right message in front of you that speaks to your heart.  He tells you things about yourself that you’d rather not admit, but never to bring condemnation. Friend, one of the most powerful prayers you can pray is simply to tell the Lord that you give Him permission to change your heart. Tell Him that you are willing to yield your heart to His, in any given situation. Ask Him to touch you in the areas where you need more of Him. He also gives you the desire to be made whole. And when He gives you the desire, you know the fulfillment of that prayer is right around the corner. He longs to touch you and fill your heart with more of Him, He's just waiting for you to ask.

Lord Jesus,

Thank you for speaking to me today. Thank you for an encounter with You that will speak to my deepest need, my deepest weakness, and allow it to be healed. Heal me and  set me free from the limitations I’ve put on myself. Set me and my family members free from the limitations we have put on ourselves and those others have put on us. Break things off of me and my family that we’ve been holding on to and carrying around for many years. Heal our identity and relationship with You so that we can receive fulfillment from a legitimate source. Give us each a revelation of our Father’s love that will cast out all fear. Release the spirit of Sonship into our hearts that will satisfy the deep longing to be known, heard and validated. Fill us with more of You, Lord. Let those things that should come naturally and instinctively begin to manifest. I yield to You, Lord Jesus. You can have my heart. Give me Your heart for loving and parenting. Let the bonding and relationship with my family and others be healed, and increase exponentially. And as I parent, I ask you to help me to remain calm, clear and use a gentle voice. Give me Your ability to be self controlled so that I can model the behavior I desire in my family. Holy Spirit, show me how to be a good parent, to inspire obedience and right responses. Help me to lead my family with grace. In Jesus name, Amen.

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