Lies of Motherhood – My life would be better if…

Sometimes I sit on the floor surrounded by 5 laundry baskets, mountains of little shirts, pajamas, underwear, and towels, just trying to sort out everyone’s piles, and I wonder what in the world am I doing. And almost in the next moment, the thoughts start rolling that I am smarter than this, that I once contributed more than this, and that I definitely had more fun than this. Screams of sibling rivalry or the wails of sleepy children begin to blow winds of anger and resentment into my heart. “This is too hard, and I really don’t want to be dealing with this.” The mundane tasks of cooking and cleaning become spaces in which I grumble and complain. My life would be better if things were different begins to weave its melody into the moments of my day. Discontentment litters my mind and clogs my heart.

Contentment is defined as the state of happiness and satisfaction, but I can spend most of my day joyless and dissatisfied. Rolling my eyes, deep sighs of irritation, and quiet grumblings under my breath all become signals of a heart listening to the lie that my life would be much better if it didn’t look like this.

My life will never be…

In fact, my life will never be as good as before can almost become a song that plays on repeat. Before I had kids, I could always _____________ (fill in the blank) becomes my chorus. Perhaps you hear, “Motherhood is a roadblock to my happiness,” or maybe it sounds like, “I would truly be happy if I were in a different space in the mothering journey. If only I could be in another stage with my child (I can’t wait to stop nursing, get the baby out of diapers, or have my child learn to read) or I cannot wait to get my kids to college.” The song washes over you and me and coats us with discontentment and resentment.

I struggle with contentment – always have – always wishing for a different season, wondering how life might have been or could still be if I can shake loose of all the constraints of this stage. The insidious sneaking in of thoughts of how life could have or should have been better begin to monopolize and occupy my mind.

And the truth is, Motherhood is crazy hard! It just is. It is a self sacrificing, other loving, and other focused demanding role that costs you and me freedom, time, and even peace of mind. When my mind focuses on me, discontentment beckons. I can see everything from the perspective of loss of happiness, impeding my joy pursuit in life. Empty or spent emotionally and physically, I can flounder, looking for anything to fill the gaps.

The Lie Exposed

We must identify where this lie has rooted down in our minds and kill it. The truth is you and I are content in Christ – full of joy and satisfied.

“I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.

John 6:35

Our contentment comes from filling up and understanding that He is our Manna, the only One who will sustain and satisfy. In John 6, Jesus has just fed the 5000 the day before. If you remember, He had been preaching to a large crowd, and his disciples wonder how they could feed so many. Christ takes a few loaves of bread and fish, distributes them to everyone in the crowd, and instructs his disciples to gather up the leftovers. Awestruck with the miracle, the crowd begins to murmur about making Him king, so Jesus removes Himself to the mountain, telling the disciples to go across the lake. The next day the crowd catches up with them, seeking more miracles like the day before, hoping for more physical gifts.

And Jesus begins to speak to their longing by pointing to Himself and reminding them of their history. When the Israelites were wandering in the desert under Moses, their only source of food was manna. They needed to have this provision every single day. They ate nothing else in the wilderness, but they could only gather enough for themselves for that day. So they would get up in the morning and gather up in a jar what they would need for that day, but if they tried to keep it overnight, it would rot and be full of worms in the morning. He then pivots this picture of provision to true provision for eternal life. For what the manna provided physically in the desert, His life provides for all of us spiritually.

His life freely offered gives us life eternal as well as purpose and contentment right now. His song offers great delight even in the mundane. Why? Because the rest and security He offers is not based on what I am doing in the moment, in fact my purpose becomes His as I abide in His love and keep my eyes and ears tuned to Him.

Manna in the moments

Remember, Jesus had just physically fed the multitude with vast leftovers gathered afterwards. The physical picture of the spiritual truth is right there for you and me. As richly as He supplied the food for the crowd, He supplies His very presence to you and me. He supplies all we need for today to be satisfied, for we have Him. When I begin to realize the moments of insanity are really moments of grace, when I abide in His purpose for this moment both to grow me and point to Jesus for my children, or when I trust His plan and feast on who He is when I feel like I am wandering in a desert, then I am beginning to experience true contentment that does not fade.

When Jesus says “I am the bread of life,” all of those Jews understood the reference. He is saying, “I am manna. I am your life giving bread so fill up on me. But understand that you fill up on me daily, you find your contentment, you find your source of joy, of peace, of calmness in me everyday.” When we choose not to go out and gather our manna then we will have days that feel discontent. When I filter through being in Christ, manna for the day fills the aching of what might have been and answers the demands for what should be. There is active redirection.

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God

Colossians 3:1-3

Truth at work

This must be a righteous holy war waged in my mind. The onslaught, the attack is fierce and may be until I die. The good news however is I do not fight alone. Christ’s work on the cross has changed my identity forever. Now I am positioned in Christ, no longer trapped in sin, but alive in Christ, full of His power working within me, with the Spirit of God living within me as a downpayment, a promise of eternity.

My life will never be as it was before I had children, but I can see my life in Christ as a holy calling, a disciple making endeavor linked with the great Teacher who will stretch my capacity in life.

For in Him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.

Colossians 2:9-10

My seeking, hoarding, searching, and gaining momentary satiation can cease. I can serve because He serves me daily with His life, and I can be content with Jesus alone.

He fills all He stretches.

Lies of Motherhood – You need to be perfect

The lie of perfectionism in motherhood can trap you and me. In this series we have been studying how the Gospel combats and defeats the lies that threaten to bind us or enslave us. Most of us would probably argue that we do not believe this lie, that we know we cannot be perfect mothers. There is no perfect mother we may confidently declare. We may even reject the struggle against this lie and know we cannot ever measure up to the perfect standard for motherhood.

Whatever the picture of motherhood looks like for you may be different than what it looks like to me. And while the perfect standard of motherhood may be something you say is elusive or unattainable, we still chase it and allow its measurements to find us falling woefully short.

Identify the lie

We can see our failings, point out our flaws, and roll our eyes at the ways we fall short. “I’m just unorganized, I’m very structured and rigid, I struggle with being patient, I’m not the ______________ “fill in the blank. But we believe we fall short of something. Unbidden within our hearts is the knowledge that we do not meet all the standards across the board. An elusive norm exists that is the measure of a good mother, and everything else ultimately falls short of this benchmark.

This lie captures us quickly with that new baby and then burrows underground, holding court deep in our hearts. It quietly mounts a savage attack with whispers of how you and I could be better, reminds us of everytime we miss the mark, every moment we lose our temper, every time we forget something important, every way we are just learning. You and I must be able to identify the lies being spoken in our mind and in our culture, especially the ones we believe and embrace.

Combat the Lie with the truth

The truth is this: You are a forgiven mother. Just as every other part of your identity is wrapped in Jesus Christ as a believer, so is your motherhood.

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished upon us in all wisdom and insight.

Ephesians 1:7

His lavish grace and the forgiveness of all our sin overflows. It does not merely fill but overflows with all wisdom and insight. His grace is lavish for us, without limit, unending. His forgiveness is complete.

In motherhood the hardest thing to reconcile, to lay down is when I sin against a child. I have a confession: my tongue can stir up division and wound so quickly. I have also learned that my children can hurt or offend me. Early on I believed that I was impervious to their attacks, but as my children have matured, so has their ability to wound as well. Perhaps I am harsh, rude, selfish, “over it,” whatever my attitude – I wound a little heart or speak terribly to a teenager.

Gripped with conviction, I seek to confess and repent both to my child and to God. But standing in the fullness of forgiveness is hard when the lie creeps in. “You should be better than this, you always mess up this way, you never change, this is failure.” In those moments of whispered lies that seek to compare me to a standard, I must cling to the banner of the One who says I am complete in Him.

Standing in the fullness of forgiveness is hard when the lie creeps in.

Understanding the power of the Gospel begins to set me free and will set you free from the lie of perfectionism in motherhood and every other role we have. The Gospel clearly defines you and me as lost, trapped in our sinful ways (which includes a sharp tongue), dead and hopeless. But God who is rich in mercy, because of his great love for you and for me, even when you and I were as wicked as we could possibly be with our children, made us alive with Christ. (Ephesians 2:10) You and I have been saved by grace when we place our faith in Jesus as the only way to be changed and made new, in every part of our lives, including motherhood.

He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Colossians 1:13-14

The truth becomes my message

We now live in a completely different kingdom! No more living as dead, darkness bound by our sins. In the kingdom of Christ we stand redeemed!

We now live as redeemed children of God, wholly loved and accepted.

Bought and paid for, lavishly loved, I am free to extend grace and mercy to my children in their own sin. Grace does NOT overlook sin, ignore it, or allow it to continue – NO – grace meets sin with the solution, Jesus Christ. Grace faces the flesh and extends living hope into the space of death. As mothers we are called to hold to His truth, extend the grace and mercy that has redeemed us, and point to Jesus for our children.