Why is it so hard for most moms to give grace to themselves? Especially when God has abundant grace for us? But most of us find it so hard to live in His goodness for us.
I came into motherhood after years of heartbreaking infertility. Holding our first newborn son in my arms filled me with tearful joy and a determination to be the best mom our son could ever want.
High expectations, anyone?
Mothering my way
When our boys were toddlers, a wise older woman encouraged me to lower my expectations. But as a mom who covered her insecurities by striving for perfection, I had no idea how to do this.
So, we set up routines and steady schedules for our boys. And they thrived. When they were young, the “terrible twos” lasted from eighteen months to four years old.” And we endured. We cuddled, loved, disciplined, and loved some more. We talked with them, read to them, and got them outside daily to run off that excess boy energy. Looking back now, I sometimes wish I’d let go of the structure for a little while and given grace to myself to relax.
The importance of giving grace to ourselves
We’re each “born” into motherhood with our unique wounds, ideals, and plans of what we will or won’t do with our children. Many of these come from our upbringing. Most of us map our own path, determining what kinds of people we want our children to be when they grow up and how we believe we can get them there.How God's Grace Helps Moms Give Grace to Themselves—We’re each “born” into motherhood with our unique wounds, ideals, and plans of what we will or won’t do with our children #tellhisstory #momlife #givegrace Click To Tweet
I’m not talking about raising children who are engineers or pilots, or presidents. I just wanted to see our sons walk with God, be young men of integrity, be contributing adults, and love others well.
Giving grace didn’t fit with the pressure I put on myself to be the mom who led by example—loving our boys the best I could. Reading the Bible with them. Talking with them about God and how much He loves them. We disciplined for deception and discussed how to make a different choice next time.
By the end of most days, I almost fell into bed, questioning if I’d done anything right in the mom realm. And (too often) answering, “Nope!”
Especially in the early days of mothering, I struggled to live into the truth that God knows we are but dust. Truth: His grace never looks like condemnation.
Mothering well is impossible if we don’t invite God into the process. Yes, I prayed, but I did things as if our boys’ future relied solely on the choices I made each day.
Learning to see my need for God’s grace in mothering took a long time. And choosing to give grace when I messed up took even longer.
Grace for mistakes
We’ve all made mistakes in our mothering. We’ve yelled at our children. Been too quick to discipline before getting the whole story. At times, we’ve hurt our children’s hearts, usually unintentionally.
Our loving Father has so much grace for mothers. He knows the heartbreak of parenting. Look at what His kids have done.
When we come to our Father and confess our errors to Him, He is quick to forgive. God offers us grace for each day. The question is, will we reach out our hands to receive it? Sometimes, it’s as simple as praying, “Lord, please give me your grace as I talk with _____ about _____.”
God offers grace for our mistakes. And, He’s made our children to be (usually) quick to forgive when we admit we were wrong and ask for their forgiveness. This is His grace offered to us, soothing a balm over our grief for whatever we did. Knowing we are forgiven enables us to give grace for our mistakes.
Grace for living out our relationship with God
We need to draw near to God in every season of life, but perhaps especially in mothering. He promises when we draw near to Him, He’ll draw near to us. Our children watch us live out our relationship with God. They watch how we do this. They may not choose to follow God in that moment, but our modeling a relationship with our Father impacts them on a heart level.
As we spend time in His word, our children observe. When we pray with them, they absorb everything. When we pray with them for others, our children see us place priority on our relationship with God. They’re watching and learning as we walk through hard seasons in life.
Truth: when we can’t spend much time with God when our devotional times span five minutes, God still offers us grace for living each day well. He knows our struggles, and He knows our hearts. Because of this, we can give grace to ourselves too.How God's Grace Helps Moms Give Grace to Themselves—God knows our struggles, and He knows our hearts. Because of this, we can give grace to ourselves too #tellhisstory #givegrace #momlife Click To Tweet
Next time, let’s talk about grace for loving well, especially when it’s painful, and grace for letting go of our mistakes.
I’m still learning to give grace to myself and release my expectations. I once heard a speaker talk about God’s grace as a shower that’s always running. We just need to step into the stream of water and be bathed by it. But it’s up to us to step into that stream. Want to step into the water with me?
What about you? When have you seen God’s grace in your mothering? What has helped you give grace to yourself in your mothering?
***Next week, we’re meeting over at Donna’s place: Serenity in Suffering. See you there!Come share your story at the Tell His Story linkup. Connect and be encouraged by like-minded friends! #tellhisstory #linkup Click To Tweet
Most weeks, I link up with Grace and Truth, Inspire Me Monday, Instaencouragements, and Let’s Have Coffee. Come join and read more encouraging posts!
Each week we gather here as storytellers, word weavers, and encouragers to make His name known. Our story is God’s story and this small corner of the blogging world, where we come together each Tuesday, needs you. This is a place where poetry, snapshots, prayers, and stories find a safe spot to nod in agreement that what we have to say matters. I am glad you are here and would love to have you join the #TellHisStory community. Add your own encouraging post through the link below. Spread some love by visiting your neighbor and leaving your own encouragement. Click here to read more about the #TellHisStory community and find a button to add to your site.
You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!Click here to enter
Sign up for monthly notes filled with encouragement, updates, and glimpses of how God shows up in each day. Receive free encouragement resources!
jeanne … i love that about giving grace to ourselves. if we can’t do that, it’s almost impossible to give real, authentic grace to others. our kids are smart … they see what’s freely given.
Linda, YES to all you said. As we learn how to accept God’s grace for us and give grace to ourselves, our children will see that God will freely give it to them as well. Love your thought here!
Ahh, accepting God’s grace for ourselves is so difficult! Thanks for your insights, Jeanne. And Happy Mother’s Day to you!
Kathy, thanks for your encouragement! Yes, accepting God’s grace can be so difficult.
Beautiful thoughts and photos. When my children were young I remember being struck reading Genesis that many didn’t become parents until they were 100. I thought I could have used that much time to mature before raising children!
Debbie, thanks for your encouraging words. Even though I’ve read Genesis many times, I’m still floored at how old some people were when they became parents. And yes, even becoming a “later-in-life” mom, I still could have used more time to mature before raising our sons!
Oh, my goodness, Jeanne! Truth – right to the heart! By the time I got to the 4th and 5th son, I grasped this idea. It took time, though, to shake the old ways out of me – but I am so glad I finally caught on. I remember the days I felt this: “t I did things as if our boys’ future relied solely on the choices I made each day.” – Then I realized that if I never failed and sought God’s grace, how would my boys ever find the way to the mercy seat. Gentle, loving, powerful post, my friend! ~ Maryleigh
Maryleigh, please forgive my delayed response! Your words so encouraged me. I LOVED what you said about how God can use our failings to draw our children to His mercy seat. Thank you for sharing your insights!
Somehow it’s easier to give others grace, isn’t it? I tried to parent perfectly but its an impossible standard. Only He is able to love that well. I’m learning to let go of impossible. Your post encouraged me greatly.
Tammy, yes! It is so much easier to give grace to others than it is to ourselves. Letting go of the impossible is sound counsel!
We can be so darn hard on ourselves, can’t we? I read once that the worst thing a husband can do is criticize his wife’s mothering. We take motherhood that much to heart. A few years ago, my daughter said her “growing up was good.” In my mind, I was thinking “but I did so many things wrong!” Yet, she didn’t see anything wrong…maybe we don’t need to take ourselves so seriously!
Lynn, I’m sorry about my delayed response. I may just be the queen of being too hard on myself. I love that your daughter told you that, and yes, taking ourselves less seriously helps a lot in our mindset as moms.
Wonderful post, Jeanne. I wonder if learning to give grace to ourselves helps us extend that same grace to our children? I know I have room to improve in that department! I’ve definitely had hard seasons where God held us all together in spite of what was going on, either inside me or around me. I’m so thankful that He knows our hearts.
I too found it difficult to give grace to myself during the years of mothering our three. Every day seemed to tally up more failures than wins. Then our third child, in a pre-theology class at college, discussed Proverbs 31 one day. (You’re no doubt familiar with the Proverbs 31 woman!) Later he said, “I told my class, that woman is so my mom!” WHAT?! How could that be?! And yet that was his perception. Here’s my takeaway: Parenting is a course in delayed gratification. We often have to wait a long time for our offspring to “rise up and call us blessed” (Proverbs 31:28). BUT! They are often much more gracious toward us than we are to ourselves. You are right, Jeanne: God offers grace for our mistakes; so do our children. Praise God!
Nancy, thank you for your patience with my response. What a beautiful message your son conveyed both to his class and to you through the telling. I so resonate with what you said about parenting being a course in delayed gratification. SOOO true. Your encouragement here speaks to my heart.
Whatever we are doing, it’s so easy to fall into feeling that it all depends on us. We definitely need to step into that shower of God’s grace.
Lesley, please forgive the huge delay of this response. I’ve been out of town. You are so right, regardless of what we’re doing, we can feel like everything depends on us. Thank goodness God’s shoulders are much broader than ours!
As I was reading Jeanne, one particular moment in time came to mind. It was when I was lamenting before the Lord about an unwise path one of my young adult children had chosen & I cried out to the Lord, “Where did I go wrong Heavenly Father?”
The answer I got back from the Lord was quick & precise; “I’m the perfect parent child & look at my children, children, even adult children will make there own choices in life”. In that moment I entered His grace for mothering adult children.
Great post my friend, Jennifer
Jennifer, thank you for sharing your story. God does have a way of shifting our perspective, doesn’t He? THank goodness He’s a patient parent with us. Thank you for sharing your insights, my friend.
You’re most welcome Jeanne 😊
So beautiful Jeanne. I don’t have children but I understand the need to give ourselves grace as I apply this to my husband, family and friends.
Deborah, I think even when we don’t have children, we have to learn to give ourselves grace. In every relationship, we have opportunities to learn this. 🙂
“Mothering well is impossible if we don’t invite God into the process.” Amen! I look back and see how often I took matters into my own hands … and failed.
Love Andrew’s poem! It speaks to all of us – Calvary truly makes the difference for all of us.
Jerralea, I’ve taken matters into my own hands far too many times. And yes, failure was the result. I guess God has ways of teaching us even in (especially in?) our failings. Thank you for stopping by. And yes, Andrew’s poem! His words spoke to my heart too.
So well done and a much needed message! Thank you and i LOVE the image I have of the shower of grace you shared in the conclusion.
Pam, thank you for your encouraging words. That image has stayed with me for YEARS. I hope I never forget the shower of God’s grace. 🙂
I’m so thankful His grace is sufficient, Jeanne. Parenting is a cross that kills everything that has to do with self and leaves a humble being crying out for His mercy to cover all that was lacking. May the Lord come, heal, and restore our families in the midst of the “messiness” that came forth in life.
Lisa, yes. Parenting does kill so much of the self and humbles us. I’m thankful for God’s grace in my failings and for the truth that His mercy covers my lack. Thank goodness He comes, heals, and restores in the broken places!
The further I journey into this mothering life, the more grace dependent I become! I wish I had taken (and given) more grace earlier in the process…
Michele, AGREED. I am seeing more and more how grace-dependent I am! I, too, wish I’d taken and given more grace earlier in the mothering journey. Thanks so much for stopping by!
I used to think I’d done a pretty good job parenting—and then my kids reached their mid-twenties. Now I’m going through a period where every mistake is magnified and I second guess everything we said and did and I feel a lot of sadness. I needed your words of encouragement about grace for myself as a mother!
Anita, the mid-twenties, huh? Yikes. As I’ve begun to come to terms with the fact that the day-to-day of mothering is over, I’ve had to accept there were things I did that I now wish we’d done differently. I’m sorry you’ve been struggling with second-guessing. I have a friend who’se reminded me, “We do the best we can with what we know at that moment.” It’s not a perfect balm, but it does help me to hold that perspective. I’m praying for you tonight, friend.
It seems like now that my kids are all grown, my parenting mistakes keep floating back to mind. There are always things we could have done better or things we wish we had or hadn’t done. I try to remind myself that even if I had lived every moment to the best of my effort, it would not have been enough, because I’m sinful and flawed. God is the only One who is perfect. Thank God for His grace and forgiveness. I know I did cry out for God’s help in the moment, but I wish I had depended on His “grace to help in time of need” moment by moment. I’ve asked my kids’ forgiveness in a couple of areas, and they have been very gracious. I pray that God will make up for anything I failed to teach or show them.
Barbara, I find that, even with my youngest about to launch, my mind has revisited things I wish I’d done differently as a younger mom.
I loved what you said here: ” I try to remind myself that even if I had lived every moment to the best of my effort, it would not have been enough, because I’m sinful and flawed. God is the only One who is perfect.”
I’m thankful that asking for forgiveness is something we can do, even when they are adults. And if they don’t extend it, we can know we’ve done all we can to be at peace with them. At least at that time. I’m glad your children offered you forgiveness and grace. No matter our age, we need that. Thank you so much for sharing so honestly here.
Sometimes I can’t see past the darkness
that rises up within my eyes;
this lets the devil place his harness
on me, with his soft-spoken lies.
He says I’ve never been enough;
see, all my heart-fought projects failed,
and as for all that marriage stuff,
only my selfishness prevailed,
so why do I believe that God
wants to know the likes of me,
so lazy and intention-flawed,
but I just point to Calvary
and the Cross there yet today,
the price I wasn’t made to pay.
Andrew, this poem is so beautiful. And the truth you’ve conveyed speaks to a deep level in the heart. We are intention-flawed and so much more, but God. Thank you for the reminder of how deep and how beautiful God’s grace is.