Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Living in Grace

This article is my submission to the blog challenge sponsored by the devotional team blog, “Laced with Grace.
The challenge states, “Since our faith is based on grace, this challenge is to write a post answering the question, ‘How do you share the grace you receive from God on a day-to-day basis?’”

I am the daughter of a type-A, perfectionist father, and I have taken on many of his tendencies. As a result, more than sharing God’s grace, my bigger challenge has been receiving it on a day-to-day basis. Especially as a mother, I have struggled in this area. So if I may, I’m going to tweak this challenge just a bit to share how I’m learning to live in God’s grace. In so doing, my hope is that other moms who are reading will understand ways they can receive God’s grace on a day-to-day basis.

I started out wanting to be a perfect mother, and thinking I could be if I just read the right books and listened to the right tapes. With all my new-found wisdom in tow, I was sure I would be giving birth to angels. Call it naivete. Call it wishful thinking. Call it perfectionism gone awry. Call it what you will. I wanted to be a perfect mommy.
It didn’t take too long to find out I’m not a perfect mommy. However, knowing it and accepting it are two different things.
For a very long time I spent days beating myself up over my imperfections. I forgot to do something. I did something else wrong. This child was upset over one of my decisions and that child was angry about another. Maybe I made the wrong decision. Maybe not. But I was upset with myself because I didn’t feel like I was getting anything right with the kids.
Finally, as I was lamenting my struggles to my husband one night he came up with a question that transformed my thinking. His question sparked a lengthy conversation between the two of us, and it is a question he asks me whenever I get into one of my “funks.” It was simply this: Where’s the grace?
Brian and I talked about the fact I’m not perfect. He reminded me God doesn’t expect me to be perfect, and I can live and mother in God’s grace.
Being the very practical person I am, I wanted to know, But how do I do that???

The very next day, this is what I read in Ruth Meyers’ book 31 Days of Praise: I give You my pride and self-dependence, which tell me I can do Your will in my own power if I try hard enough. I give You my fears, which tell me I’ll never be able to do Your will in some areas of my life. I consent to let You energize me…to create within me, moment by moment, both the desire and the power to do Your will. (p.152 – emphasis mine)
I thought that statement captured so well the ways I was struggling as a mother. In some respects I was proud and self-dependent, thinking I could be a perfect mother if I just tried hard enough. In other respects I wanted to quit; I was sure I was a failure and would never get it right in some areas. As I read Ruth Meyers’ statement, something clicked within me and I felt I finally “got it.” To live in His grace is to live in total dependence on Him to work in and through you.
Since that day, little by little, I am learning to live in God’s grace. As I share with you the things I’m learning, my hope is to share grace which you can extend to yourself on a day-to-day basis.
First, I have accepted the fact I’m not perfect. I have come to the point in my life where I understand I cannot do this on my own. I need God. I am completely desperate for Him and I fail miserably without Him. The wonderful part of this realization is this: God is fully aware of my imperfection, and He loves me anyway!
Second, I pray all the time. I am constantly asking God to help me love my kids, to lead me in my decisions, to calm my spirit, to help me trust Him. As I pray I am reminded He is in control, and each of the situations in which I find myself is part of His perfect plan. This realization also reminds me nothing is dependent upon me or my performance. It is only God’s goodness and grace at work, not mine.

Recognizing my limitations and submitting myself to God’s power has allowed me to experience what it’s like to live in grace. Oh, I have so much growing and trusting left to do! But as I continue on this journey with you, my hope is you will be encouraged by the things I’m learning and will be able to live in grace every day, too!


Jen said...

Thanks for this post - you describe me - I am in the same place where you are as to learning to accept God's grace in my mothering. Thanks!

annie said...

This is a great post and can be applied to almost any other thing we choose to feel inadequate about or imperfect. I love that God's love is so huge it covers my imperfections.
That's grace to me.
Did you find the four things I mentioned?
I really enjoyed reading this submission to the blog challenge~
♥ Annie

annie said...

You found them!

I'm glad that I heard that voice yesterday too, and I pray that I hear it today and every day forward as well.

♥ Annie

Irritable Mother said...

Jen ~ Thanks for visiting. It's good to know we aren't alone, isn't it?

Annie ~ I honestly laid awake last night wondering what those four things were. Read through 2 Chronicles this morning 'til I found 'em!
2 Chronicles 7:14, "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land."

Sophiagurl said...

i could certainly relate to this as well. we all want to the best for our children. how can we do that? our thought usually is, well by becoming the BEST, the PERFECT mom. but nobody is. we are always in the process of learning. nice post.

Beba said...

Yesterday, while husband was at his work, i connected to MSN messanger in order to tell him how i feel guilty because of our 14 months old daughter. Just as you said i felt that i am not giving my best in love, care, that i make to many mistakes... I felt grouse! And now, reading your post... Well thank you for sharing it with us. God bless you

eph2810 said...

Very beautiful--thank you for sharing your take on this challenge.
Blessings on your Sunday and always.