How about we spend this space today to dispel some illusions. We might be passionate, committed, focused moms, but that doesn’t mean we are perfect. It doesn’t even mean we are patient.
What it does mean is that we have stepped out in faith, trusting that God is going to lead and guide us. It means that we get to see and experience God in unique ways as we look to Him to be our Answer and Provider.
There are many things that differentiate us as moms. We can distinguish ourselves and our families by our traditions, celebrations, vacations, and habits. It might be the number of children, our educational background, our focus, our discipline methods, our objectives, our geography, our denominations. But we need not allow those things to separate us in our fellowship together or in our encouragement of each other.
I believe that we need to choose to concentrate on the things that we have in common. One of the masterful ways the enemy discourages us is through needless and often destructive comparisons. God has made each of us unique. I propose that we focus on the things we have in common with each other so that we can come together.
1. None of us have enough time. Let’s all admit it, we are constantly chasing the clock. The big hand and the little hand are often our worst enemies. The tick-tock, tick-tock rings in our ears, sometimes even over the voices of those around us. It is as though someone turned up the volume such that the sound is not just in the background but in the foreground. It can drown out everything else. Tick-tock echoes from the moment we are awake until we finally fall asleep. And sometimes it follows us into our dreams and we wake with a start. We are all chased by the sound of a large, menacing clock! There is simply not enough time.
2. All of us have the time He gives us. We may not have all of the time we want or we think that we need, but we do have the time He has appointed for us. He has numbered our days. He orders everything and knows what we need. Using our time wisely becomes our goal. Time is not a renewable resource. It cannot be bought or recovered once wasted. Intentionally using our time wisely is paramount. Spending time with our Heavenly Father in His Word, on our knees, or in worship is never lost time. Enjoying our husband along with reading and laughing with our children are uses of our time well invested in our eternal future.
3. None of us are getting it all done. We all have to-do lists that exceed our ability to accomplish. Our boxes go unchecked, unmarked, undone. While we enjoy the thrill of marking a few things off, we allow the angst of the items left on the list to multiply such that our stress level is perpetually elevated. Instead of focusing on what we have done, we linger on all that has gone undone. As we look around to others it looks like they are getting it all done or at least they are getting more done than we are. “What is their secret?” we wonder.
4. All of us are humbled that God uses us. In spite of the fact that I am keenly aware of all that I am not getting done, that I am constantly running behind, that I am chasing a tail I cannot even see, God uses me. Wow. The feeding of the 5000 is where I live. I come with a measly 5 loaves and 2 fishes, clearly short of what is necessary to feed my crowd, and yet God multiplies it to satisfy those around me. It amazes me; He amazes me. He asks only that I give Him what I have and that I offer it to Him freely and without reserve. Trust Him.
5. None of us have it all figured out. I’ve been married almost 27 years. I have 7 kids ranging in age from 9 to 22 (4 sons and 3 daughters). This marks our 17th year of homeschooling. And yet — brace yourself — I am still learning. There are so many things about marriage and child-rearing that I am still figuring out. God is merciful and gracious as He continues to patiently teach me. Many lessons I have had to learn over and over, but I do not have it down pat yet. One prevailing thing I am learning is that it is my heart attitude that matters most in the midst of this life.
6. All of us are learning as we go. In the beginning of this journey I innocently thought that I would just need to take some time and figure some things out, like which parenting style worked best for me, which discipline style, which schedule, and then, about the time my oldest was one year old, I could hit cruise control and sail on into safe harbor hands-free. But that is not how this works. No, I am constantly learning. God is continually teaching me about this life, what’s important, my kids, who they are, myself, where I need to grow, and Himself — who He is and how I can trust Him more. This life is a classroom.
7. None of us feel qualified. I remember when I was in the hospital giving birth to our fourth or fifth child when the nurse commented that she probably didn’t need to tell me anything because I was obviously an expert. All I could think was, “Please don’t assume expertise because of experience.” I do not feel prepared or equipped to face all that motherhood throws at me. I am in way over my head. Being capable or competent or skilled is an ongoing process as I submit to God’s qualification program.
8. All of us need God. Motherhood is tough. I do not know what I am doing. I don’t know who these kids are or what they need or how to help myself. So much of the time my own issues cloud my vision as to seeing what I need to help them. My junk gets in the way. I can’t do this! I need God to help me, to show me, to show off to me, to wow me. And that is exactly what He is in the business of doing — glorifying Himself. It glorifies Him when I am willing to admit I can’t do it and allow Him to step in and do it. He loves to take good care of me and those I love. We are all in desperate need of His love, grace, forgiveness, and guidance.
9. None of us should try and do this alone. Even the Long Ranger had Tonto. In order to really accomplish what God has planned to do through us, we need help. We don’t only need each other for encouragement and support, but we also need each other for ideas and inspiration. Trying to navigate this journey by ourselves is a set up for failure. There is so much we are working to accomplish that we need to determine what we can and should delegate to someone else. Are there some tasks or responsibilities we can pay some one to do for us? Can we trade off some duties with another mom? We need to give each other the permission to get the help we need, to say “no” when we need to, and to pull back when necessary — all without judgment or criticism. Maybe there are even some tasks that we don’t need to be attempting at all!
10. All of us need help/each other. We were made for fellowship. Person-to-person, one-on-one, physical (not virtual) fellowship. We need each other — the support, the encouragement, the smiles, the affirmation, the touch. We need to have a community where we can go on tough days or when we have something to celebrate. God did not intend for us to do this by ourselves. We need to be willing to be vulnerable to each other and reap the rewards of walking this journey together.
11. All of us have cried ourselves to sleep. This is something we have probably done more times than we care to remember. We have all done it. I have gone to sleep on a pillow wet with my own tears — convinced we are a bad mom. I can recall thinking that I was the worst mom ever because I didn’t play a game, or read a book, or chase a kite. I was the worst because I didn’t finger paint, or play with play dough, or even color a picture. For goodness sake, my kids have outgrown their clothes, gone to church with dirty finger nails, and were rude to each other in public. The enemy of the soul screams, “You are a failure!” and the tears flow. Surely things go undone and opportunities are missed, but God not only collects our tears in a bottle, He also comforts us in our failures as we give them over to Him.
12. All of us marvel at how God redeems all our mistakes. “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus!” Talk about good news! All of those mistakes I have made are places where God glorifies Himself through His redemptive work or turning my mistakes into something beautiful for Himself. He is the great Redeemer. When I fall, when I fail, it is not wasted. He not only picks me back up again, but He also makes something out of all my nothing.
13. All of us have wondered if we are messing up our kids. All of us have unique family circumstances, traditions, and habits. At our house, we laugh a lot, quote movie lines, and behave in a way that is generally goofy. Meals at our house are loud affairs. They are not loud because of the forks and knives, but because of the lively discussions in which we engage. But on top of that we have chosen to homeschool. That is arguably a strange and counter culture decision. But homeschooling moms are not the only ones who think this. Public and private school moms wonder the same thing.
14. All of us love our kids. Our kids have changed our lives. Many of us were unaware we could love this deeply. We didn’t know how selfish we were or how selfless we could be. We were unaware of how our children could take hold of our hearts while we were working to mold theirs. Our Heavenly Father loves His children, too. He loves us so much. As we love our kids well we point them to the Father’s love for them.
15. Let us stand strong together on what we have in common. Let us not allow our differences to separate us. Let us grant to one another the freedom and the permission to be who God has ordained for us to be. Let us follow Him and shine brightly for Him. Let us encourage one another. Let us pray for one another. Let us cry together and laugh together. Let us determine to walk this road of motherhood together for the praise of His glory!
Rachael Carmen has been married to her Man (Davis) since 1986. Their life together has been a roller coaster ride with God at the controls. They have seven kids with whom they love to laugh — family dinners are one of their favorite times as a family. Rachael loves to play in the dirt, enjoy dark chocolate, walk on the beach, and relax with a good book. She is the author of two books herself: Soundbites from Heaven and How to have a HEART for Your Kids. She loves her family but is first of all a daughter of the King of Kings. Rachael is passionate about God’s Word and encouraging moms to pursue Him with all their hearts. She and Davis are the owners of Apologia Educational Ministries. You can find Rachael on: HisSunflower.com – Facebook – Twitter – Pinterest – Google+ – Instagram