I’ve read a lot of mom books.
I would describe myself as a “reluctant homemaker”–this was never exactly my dream job. But God has gripped my heart with love for my husband, for the little people he’s entrusted to me, for this home he has blessed us with–and some days, it is my genuine desire to do this “job” well. Hence the mom books. This mom needs all the help she can get.
You can do this!
One book I read recently was Desperate, by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson. It got a pretty good review from Tim Challies, and was available for Kindle for $5, so I figured why not add it to my mom-book reportoire. In general, I appreciated it. I recommended it to several people and marked it up with all kinds of notes and highlights. I love plans and practical advice, and Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson brought a sweet balance of “I totally get where you’re coming from,” and “Here are some tips to not stay there.” But by the time I reached the end of the book, I was frustrated by it. Ultimately, it felt like their answer to my desperate state was enough resolve and a really good plan. It felt like this heavy weight of to-do’s that I know I simply cannot achieve. Sadly, I ended the book feeling more desperate.
Desperate for a Savior
I couldn’t totally put my finger on why until I got to the four or five chapters of Elyse Fitzpatrick’s book, Comforts from Romans, which dissect the verse, “by the one man’s obedience, the many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:19). She writes over and over again of Christ’s perfect obedience–the righteousness he earned while walking this earth–righteousness which is credited to my account as I put my faith in him.
His purpose in obeying was not primarily to set an example for me to follow; it was to earn my righteousness.
Throughout so many mom books and blogs I’ve read, I am called to look to Jesus as my example–to extend patience to my children as he would; to love them as He does; to be Jesus to them. But Jesus is so much more than a lesson in godly living. And I need so much more than his example. I need HIM. I need his righteousness to be mine, because I have absolutely no hope of achieving it on my own.
I am not desperate for an example to follow. I am desperate for a Savior.
And, what’s more, my kids don’t just need a display of godly love and sacrifice. They don’t need a mom who is trying to be Jesus to them–they need a mom who will point them to Jesus as I run to him myself. Thanks to Twitter, here’s my kind of parenting summarized in 140 characters or less: “The message is not ‘I’m good, and you can be good like me.’ It’s ‘watch me when I’m weak and see who I hold onto.'” (from White Horse Inn, quoted by @thejustinyoung)
The roots of obedience
I’ve found that it’s good for my heart to always be reading something related to my “day job,” whether blogs or tweets or mom-books. It helps me to embrace this calling that God has set before me. But I know my tendency to gravitate toward the completely practical, you-can-do-this pep-talks. I know my tendency to resort back to try-harder-do-better Christianity, where I suck it up, give it all I’ve got, and then find myself even more desperate.
It’s not that practical advice isn’t great. In fact, I would still recommend the book (Desperate). But with a very important caveat–Start with Jesus. End with Jesus. Preach Jesus to yourself at every page in between. And not just the Jesus who gave us an example of laying down his life.
The one who laid down His life for you.
We are called to obey, yes. But we must remember where obedience starts. Kimm Crandall writes,
“God calls us to live out our holiness, not by relying on our performance–trying harder and working feverishly to produce our own good works–but by walking in the holiness we already possess through the Holy Spirit…
“The biblical way of change is this: We do what God has called us to do, even when it may not be easy, but we rely on God, leaving the specific outcomes to him, trusting he is bringing about the changes he wants in our lives and in the lives of those around us in his way, at his time, by his power and grace…
“As you press on, remember who you are and that he saved you when you were yet his enemy: that alone produces change in the heart.”
So where’s a mom to turn?
In my desperate state, I read Gloria Furman’s, Glimpses of Grace. I’ve also since read Kimm Crandall’s, Christ in the Chaos. And both were balm for my weary, try-harder soul. Kimm and Gloria point you to Jesus in the midst of your desperate mundane. They show you that the Gospel is not something you “get” and then you “move on” to trying really really hard, no, the Gospel is where you stay.
If you’re desperate like me, both books will bless you.
Ultimately it’s not a book that will rescue this desperate mama.
Instead, the blessed truth I cling to is this: I have been rescued.
“For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” Heb 10:14