Grace for the Mom Who Isn’t Enough

Wipe the counters. Empty the trash. Vacuum the rug. Make the coffee. Wash the cups. Fill the dishwasher. Empty the dishwasher. Change the laundry. Pick up Cheerios. Pick up Legos. Swiffer the floor. Change the diaper. Answer the phone. Fill the sippy cup. Check the mail. Write the check. Fold the laundry. Brush the teeth. Feed the cat.

Dizzying, this mother-life. Constant. Always moving, never seemingly making progress.

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Nothing will hit you with the stark reality that you are not enough like motherhood will. You quickly realize that you don’t have enough of anything–energy, time, organizational skills, wit, wisdom, patience, or maternal instinct– to parent these kids like you dreamed you would.

Our suspicions seem to be confirmed when we check social media and notice that our friend’s kids are wearing matching outfits and hairbows and they’re all “off” to ballet lessons. You notice your smiling friend seems to have the Kate Middleton blowout, and she’s clutching her coffee in neatly-manicured-hands.

And with every click, we are measuring ourselves and mentally keeping track of our deficiencies.

Click. Oh, she’s on a missions trip with her kids! Wow.

Click. Oh wow, they’re on vacation at that beautiful resort.

Click. What a sweet husband she has. He’s always sending her flowers and wisking her off for dinner. 

Click. Look at how amazing her decorating is. That house looks like it should be in a magazine!

Click. Oh, look at her surrounded by all her friends. They always have so much fun. I wish I had just one close friend like that.

Doesn’t social media feed the notion that everyone’s enough but you?

I had a day like this recently. I was going on day three of barely any sleep because my little guy was suddenly crying at night and needed to be rocked. I was also fighting sickness.

I pulled myself out of bed earlier than normal because my to-do list was long, poured myself an extra-large cup of coffee, plopped down on the couch and admitted to God, “Well, here I am. Completely overwhelmed before the day even begins, exhausted, moody, and ridiculous, but here for whatever I can get today.”

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I’ll admit to you right now that my flesh hates to come to God. I hate to admit that I’m needy. I feel like a beggar and who wants that? I want to be like my friends in the pictures who have it all together! But I’ve learned that my feelings are rarely truth. God tells us to come. He implores us to come! Because he wants to satisfy. He tells us to come with nothing in hand and be filled.

I love this paraphrase/commentary of Matt. 11:28-30

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (MSG)

Bleary eyed and half-heartedly I read:

“But he 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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

God’s power made perfect in the midst of my weakness.

Yes, please. That’s what I need.

When I agree with the Bible and admit that self-dependence is NOT a Christian virtue, nor the trait of a Spirit controlled woman, I can embrace these truths when I am depleted that give me hope:

I am never left to fend for myself and I am not parenting these kids alone.

God gives me exactly what I need in the moment. “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want/lack.” He takes care of every one of my needs.

I do not need to conjure up the strength to do this thing right. I have God’s strength to cover my weakness.

God promises grace for today. I don’t need to worry about the tomorrows, because God doesn’t dole out grace for all.of.the.things I could ever worry about tomorrow. He deals in today.

No matter what I feel, God called me to parent these kids. This wasn’t a freak lottery. God is sovereign and in His wisdom, you are “it”, dear mother! Yes, you have inadequacies like we all do. Yes, you’ll struggle with issues your friends may seem to conquer with ease. But God does not call you to do something that He doesn’t equip you to do. While parenting is hard, we are not left comfortless. We have the Holy Spirit to cheer and guide our daily work.

My life doesn’t have to look like my friend’s life. God called me to this. He ordained my place and time. He wants me to rejoice and live it out!

Could it be that weakness is a gift? On those days when we are most aware of our own frailty and feel like a failure before we begin,

on the days when we are most vulnerable, is it then in those moments that Christ can work in us and through us in visible ways by the power of His might?

And isn’t it when we are the frailest that we’re also hyper-aware of His work in us and through us and we’re most prone to thank Him and give Him the glory?

So instead of beating yourself up for having limitations or for lacking ability, let’s give thanks for anything that causes us to press in to God and to rest in His sufficiency.

What is lacking in your life? Could it be that God will use that deficiency to keep you close to Him? Praise Him for it and rest in Him.

12 comments

  1. Tim says:

    “Self dependence is NOT a Christian virtue” – powerful words, and their power comes from their humbleness. Thank you, Sarah. I hope to follow your advice and lean on God.

  2. Jenny H says:

    Simply lovely message. I really need to just print the verse out and keep it on my fridge! Thank you for sharing 😀

  3. Christina says:

    Needed this today! And thankful for God’s well of grace that never runs dry. Thank you!

  4. Michele says:

    I so appreciate your honesty. It reminds me I am not alone. God gadvtgis and He trusts me with it. Thank you for sharing your struggles.
    Bless you as you continue to live the life He sets before you.
    Michele

  5. KimP says:

    Thank you for this message Sarah :) I was off social media for a few days and it’s amazing the difference it makes. Not that social media is to necessarily blame since our hearts are always craving something but it’s good to sometimes take a break and see life through a different lens that isn’t screen related :) I’m thankful that God calls us all to different ministries and missions but with the same purpose of knowing Him more and sharing Him with others. Seems like it needs to be a daily lesson for me!

  6. Caitlin says:

    You got this, mama! Love your honesty here. <3

  7. Heather says:

    Wonderful scripture and thoughts for this homeschooling mom of 6. I feel my frailty and failure every day and I definitely need reminding to trust more in Him and not myself.

  8. Hi Sarah, I read this post after following the link from Tim Fall’s blog and was so inspired that I wrote the following. Thank you so much!!! Love in Christ, Maureen Brown

    I read a post this morning from Sarah Beals, who blogs at joyfilleddays.com, entitled “Grace for the Mom Who isn’t Enough” and I was reminded that it’s okay not to feel sufficient in my parenting because God’s grace provides what I need. I felt sad as I read about all the things that make up the daily life of a mother of little ones, because my children are grown and I seem to have forgotten this truth somewhere along the way. When my children were young, I remember taking great comfort in God’s gift of wisdom when I asked Him for it and urging the younger women in my bible study to trust God like the blog writer says. I could tell stories – indeed I did tell stories – of times when God spoke quite clearly into my situation and either stopped me from doing something foolish or gave me a great idea for solving a problem that I could never have come up with on my own. But now it seems like I’m trying to learn this lesson all over again, like I never got it in the first place. What happened? I walked away from reading the blog with regret and sorrow hammering at my heart.

    As I walked upstairs, I asked God, “Why? Why have I forgotten this truth? Why have I gone back to wanting a problem-free life more than I desire your grace? When did the comfort of your wisdom-when-I-ask depart from me? God answered so clearly that I was almost struck dumb: “When your children started making their own life choices, choices you did not agree with, choices that you felt powerless to influence and change. When you had to release them to Me and let Me do what only I can do – give them in their turn wisdom and grace. They are Mine – they always were Mine, and I gave them to you to parent for a little while – now you need to let them go. Let them make mistakes, their mistakes and see how I will redeem those mistakes and use them for good. As I redeem your mistakes and use them. You have always believed this; believe it now. Let them go, child of mine, let them go!”

    Then, wonder of wonders, God reminded me of a promise that He gave me long ago, so long ago that I had forgotten the verse, even the specific words, and only vaguely remembered the chapter, Isaiah 44. So I turned there and read, with tears streaming down my face:

    But now listen, O Jacob, my servant,
    Israel, whom I have chosen.
    This is what the LORD says –
    he who made you, who formed you in the womb,
    and who will help you:
    “Do not be afraid, O Jacob, my servant,
    Jeshurun, whom I have chosen.
    For I will pour water on the thirsty land,
    and streams on the dry ground;
    I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring,
    and my blessing on your descendants.
    They will spring up like grass in a meadow,
    like poplar trees by flowing streams.
    One will say, ‘I belong to the LORD’;
    another will call himself by the name of Jacob;
    still another will write on his hand, ‘The LORD’s,’
    and will take the name Israel.” Isaiah 44:1-5

    • Sarah Beals says:

      Thank you for sharing this! What a blessing it was to me!

      • You’re welcome, Sarah! I love to encourage other people with the things that I write. I’m a blogger too, albeit quite inexperienced, and I would like to post what I wrote with a link to your blog. Would that be okay with you? You can find my blog at emotionallyrich.wordpress.com
        if you would like to check it out first. Maureen