balm for wounded, weak mothers

posted in: on being a mom | 1

This is what I wished the title read when I saw this blog post in my Google reader yesterday. Wounded and weak is a fitting description for my heart as of late. I think Rachel Jankovic uses the analogy of “too many straws in my milkshake,” and I echo a resounding, “Amen!”

Jordan and I have been slowly watching Paul Tripp’s video series, “Getting to the Heart of Parenting.” In one of the sessions, Tripp talks about those moments where the situation and/or a child’s behavior gives insight into your child’s heart. He points out that this is a God-ordained moment handed to us as the parent. A moment when we can stoop down and be God’s instrument of grace and share with them the rescuing grace of Christ.

What a sweet picture. What a sweet responsibility. What a sweet opportunity.

Sadly, there’s been little rescuing around here. And as I watch Hadley grow into a little mini-me with all my flaws and sinful tendencies, I am a little horrified and ready to crumble into a pile on the floor. I have no fight left in me. The exhaustion settles in deep and my motivation dwindles.

“I’m ruining her!” I sobbed to my husband. “She’s just like me! I don’t even know what to teach her!”

Jordan patiently waited. Quiet. Thinking. So often the calm in my storm.

“Repeat after me,” he said quietly.

I did not appreciate his suggestion. I couldn’t look up – let alone speak – as I wallowed in my self-pity.

He lifted my face. “Repeat after me.”

“I am not ruining Hadley.”

I gave him my frustrated look, yet complied. “I am not ruining Hadley.”

He went on: “I am not ruined.”

I stopped in my tracks. Looked up. Choked out the words, begging them to sink down deeper than the exhaustion, deeper than the pain, deeper than the guilt – “I am not ruined.”

He continued: “God loves me; He will take care of me.” I echoed.

He finished: “God loves Hadley; He will take care of her.”

I sputtered out the final line as I melted into a puddle in his arms. My gentle, patient husband, bringing the rescuing grace of Christ to my wounded, weak heart. Reminding me of who God is. Of what He is doing. He is moving and working and changing and wooing – my heart and Hadley’s. I had lost sight – let my eyes drop – let myself believe that it was all up to me. But it does not all rest on my shoulders! Instead, it rested on his:

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
(1 Peter 2:24-25 ESV)

He is the Shepherd and Overseer of my soul.

He is the Shepherd and Overseer of Hadley’s soul.

By his wounds, we have been healed.

This morning I read: “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:23). If I had stopped there, I might have returned to my puddle. But it goes on to say in verse 24:

“He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.”

He is faithful! He is the God who sees me (Gen 16). He is the lifter of my head (Psalm 3). He delights and sings over me (Zeph 3:14-17). He says there is no condemnation for me now (Romans 8:1). That I have been raised with Christ (Colossians 3:1).

Motherhood is hard. I know I can’t do it on my own. Yet how quickly I forget. I have to constantly be reminded that unless I am working out of the Spirit’s strength in me – unless I am operating out of the identity I have in Christ – unless I am striving in faith, knowing that ultimately the results fall under the sovereignty of my Father – unless my eyes are fixed on Christ – all of my efforts are in vain.

The post I linked to earlier was offered as an encouragement to pastors, who certainly have a job that can be draining and discouraging and can point out every failure and weakness. I think the parallels to motherhood are obvious, and I found this to be an encouragement to my weak and wounded heart as well:

To identify with Paul’s experience we do not need to be shipwrecked or imprisoned or lowered in a basket from a city wall. Even without the physical dangers of Paul’s career, anyone who throws  himself in the work of Christian ministry of any kind with half the dedication of Paul will experience the weakness of which Paul speaks: the times when problems seem insoluble, the times of weariness from sheer overwork, the times of depression when there seem to be no results . . . the emotional exhaustion which pastoral concern bring on—in short, all the times when the Christian minister or worker knows he has stretched to the limits of capacities for a task which is very nearly, but by God’s grace not quite, too much for him. Anyone who knows only his strength, not his weakness, has never given himself to a task which demands all he can give. There is no avoiding his weakness, and we should learn to suspect those models of human life which try to avoid it. We should not be taken in by the ideal of the charismatic superman for whom the Holy Spirit is a constant source of superhuman strength. Nor should we fall for the ideal of the modern secular superman: the man who organizes his whole life with the object of maintaining his own physical and mental well-being, who keeps up the impression of strength because he keeps his life well within the limits of what he can easily cope with. Such a man is never weak because he is never affected, concerned, involved, or committed beyond a cautiously safe limit. That was neither Jesus’ ideal nor Paul’s. To be controlled by the love of Christ means inevitably to reach the limits of one’s abilities and experience weakness. . . .

For Paul the Christian minister’s weakness is not the point where he is failing, but the point where the deepest integration of his life and his message is possible. . . . The impressiveness of his ministry will not be his own impressiveness, but that of his message which matches up to the experience of human weakness and makes it the vehicle of God’s power.

One Response

  1. Hi Kendra, excellent application for motherhood. My wife and I live in a small New York City apartment with a fourth child on the way. She also found Bauckham’s words to be comforting as a mother. Motherhood is no small thing, which is why mothers have no small need for grace. The good news is that there is no stopping our cup from overflowing with it.

    John Starke