Each mother has felt that moment in her day (or maybe even multiple moments) when she comes to the end of her rope. My rope frequently ends around 5:30pm, when I’m glancing at my watch wondering when my husband will be off work, trying to keep our dinner from burning on the stove, and placating a toddler whose life is over because she can’t have more cheese. In moments like those, I know that I do not have enough patience for my toddler, love for my husband, and endurance in managing our home to make it another hour. In a world that constantly tells me, “I am enough,” those moments prove to me that sentiment is a lie. Before motherhood I might have been able to deny my weaknesses, but being a mom puts my limitations on display every day.
Yet for those who follow Christ, this realization of our insufficiency is by no means a discouragement. One of my favorite verses is 2 Corinthians 12:9, “But [the Lord] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” We know that God has created us as humans with good limits in order for us to rely on his limitlessness. When we come to the end of our rope, God’s is unending. While mothers are often jokingly seen as superheroes without limits, we must remember the good limits in our motherhood that point us to who God is. The character of God has changed how I see my motherhood.
God is love.
When I’m telling my daughter for the one hundredth time that day not to climb on the stool, I can feel my patience wearing thin. Yet God’s patient and kind love is never ending. 1 Corinthians 13 is often used as instruction for how we are to love, but it is first and foremost a description of God as love: “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5). While I deeply love my family, I know that my loving actions will fall short. I’ll lose my patience, resent them, and act on my own selfishness. But when I am unloving, God continues to love me and my family perfectly. I can rest in his love, when my own love falls short.
God is all-knowing.
I try to plan for all the worst-case scenarios. I own every “What to Expect Book,” and checked off every milestone to make sure they were occurring on time. Yet I am reminded even now—as I can’t see or know everything about the baby boy in my womb—that as much as I can study, my knowledge will always be limited. But I can trust God, because he doesn’t need books or doctors or mom blogs to know what is best. He holds (and originated) all knowledge. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9). God’s omniscience prompts me to lay aside my books and close out the blogs and trust in his complete knowledge.
God is sovereign.
Not only does God know everything, he can do whatever he wills with that knowledge because he is sovereign. Even if I know what is going on inside my toddler’s head (which is a stretch), her growing stubbornness reveals that I cannot fully control her. My motherly desires are for my children to love God and act according to his word, but I have no power over their hearts or minds. Yet the God who is holding the universe together is also sovereign over my children and me! “And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17). This doesn’t mean I don’t train my children up in God’s Word or attempt to manage my household well. Instead, I can do these things without anxiety, because it is God who is ultimately sovereign. When I cannot hold everything in my hands, I can have faith that God is holding me and my family in his.
God is faithful.
I am quick to be distracted by a long to-do list, urgent emails, and my own selfish desires. As much as I love my daughter, in my sinfulness I sometimes choose to put my needs above hers. I choose my comfort over good discipline. I choose to tune out on my phone instead of playing in a blanket fort. I choose a quick, harsh word instead of a gentle, correcting one. Yet even when I am not faithful as I should be, God’s faithfulness remains. “If we are faithless, he remains faithful” (2 Timothy 2:13a). When I make the same selfish decisions over and over, he faithfully draws me back into repentance and faith. And I can trust that his faithfulness extends to my husband and my children—that he will fulfill his promises to them as he will to me. No mothering mistake can ever put me (or my family) out of reach of God’s faithfulness.
God is gracious.
As I close the door to my daughter’s bedroom for the last time at night, I let out a deep breath. While I remember all the giggles and cuddles, I also recall every time I failed in motherhood that day. I struggle with the inward condemnation that says I blew it again, but God speaks this truth to my heart: “The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” (Psalm 145:8). God’s grace covers my imperfect mothering. This grace doesn’t lead me to give up trying to be a good mom, instead, it spurs me on to walk in his grace and show his grace through my motherhood. I confess my sins to my daughter and hold her hand as we run together to Jesus for his grace and mercy.
This is just a short list of how God’s character changes motherhood, but each day I am reminded of new characteristics that strengthen me in my faithfulness as a mom. Whether you are feeling discouraged or prideful in your current state of motherhood, turn your eyes on God to bring truth and joy to your journey as a mom.
In a few days we will celebrate Mother’s Day. There may be breakfast in bed, handmade crafts, special times of rest, etc. Across social media there will be both those posts extolling the limitless virtues of moms and those that minimize the truth of moms’ limits. Yet as Christians, we celebrate something even truer about mothers. We can rejoice in the gift God has given us in motherhood, but we can also praise the God who is our strength in the weaknesses of our motherhood.