There is no perfect family. And there is no perfect mom.
We know this, of course. But it can be easy to forget, particularly in an age of professionally produced Christmas cards and Instagram posts that showcase trophies, vacations, and siblings who appear to genuinely like each other.
And it can be easy to feel like you are the only one who is seriously blowing it. Like when you go to the parent-teacher conference and she asks you, in the nicest possible way, if your son is going to get “any pants” for Christmas.
(As if you are the only fourth-grade parent who doesn’t think wearing shorts in 37-degree weather is that bad.)
Lately, I’ve been reviewing some of my parenting failures. (Which, given the fact that Mother’s Day is on Sunday, seems only natural.) And so it was with no small amount of gratitude that I heard my good friend, Susan Yates, say the following:
Your ability to ruin your child is not nearly as great as God’s power to redeem him.
Isn’t that awesome? (You can stop reading right there, if you want, and go have yourself a Happy Mother’s Day.)
Susan was in Virginia Beach this week to talk about her new book, Risky Faith, as well as her One Word Cards. She wasn’t here to talk about parenting. But as she cataloged God’s attributes (including his love for us, and his power to provide for our needs and cover our mistakes), I found myself thanking God (not for the first time) for putting this wise woman in my life.
And, listening to Susan speak, I found myself thankful for another wise mentor. My mother. Here she is, on the far left (with Susan and my daughters, Hillary and Annesley, between us):
I’m thankful for my mom for a variety of reasons. Partly for the sappy ones, the sentiments that show up on Mother’s Day cards (You are an amazing mom…I’m so proud to be your child…Thanks for hanging in there with me), but even more for the less-sappy/more-real reasons that don’t. Like the fact that my mom made about a zillion parenting mistakes.
Seriously. My mom consistently modeled imperfect parenting. She was great at that. And now that I am making the exact same mistakes with my kids, I could not be more grateful.
I am grateful to a mother who taught me that God’s strength is made perfect in my weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
That it is God’s job (not mine) to work in my kids’ lives so that they will think and behave in ways that line up with his plans. (Philippians 2:13)
And that I really can rejoice in the Lord always (Philippians 4:4), even when my kids choose to wear shorts in the snow or make other, more impressive, mistakes of their own. God is, as Susan Yates said, all about redeeming that stuff.
So thank you, Mom. Maybe you aren’t exactly the Proverbs 31 woman, but you’re mighty close. Especially when you get to the second part of verse 25, which you pretty much nail every day: You can laugh at the days to come. You do that well.
And if you’re not my mom – if you’re more uptight like me, and your heart gets in knots over all the things that you didn’t do right, or the things that you could have done better – can I just offer this Mother’s Day prayer? Most of my Friday Prayers can be prayed for your loved ones, but maybe keep this one just for yourself:
Thank you that your grace is all that I need. Help me remember that your power works best in weakness. Let me be glad about my own weaknesses, because that’s what unleashes your strength and releases the power of Christ to work through me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
Thank you that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, and that nothing – NOTHING – can separate me from your love. (Romans 8:1 & 39)