Not long ago I was speaking about motherhood at a conference in Virginia. After three days of back-to-back sessions, I could feel myself getting tired. Jay and I had taken our kids with us for the speaking season, and this was the next-to-last stop on our four-month trip. Let me tell you, the grace was running out. Everyone was just getting on everyone else’s nerves.
Fifteen minutes before I took the stage, I was with our kids in the green room, making sure everyone had their lunch. The green room was about a ten-minute walk from where I needed to speak, and the walk included an escalator. I hate those things—they attract kids like mosquitoes to an incandescent light. I have more than twenty-six years of parenting under my belt, and I have yet to find a cure for the siren song of the escalator.
As we were making our way to the green room, I gave this word of caution: “If you play on the escalator, there will be huge consequences later!” Not a particularly eloquent (or specific) threat, but it was the best I could muster up after four months away from home. And because my word is law, they all naturally decided they needed to jump off the final step “one more time.”
Our fifth child was the last one to jump from the moving stairs of death. I watched as she catapulted her five-foot frame several feet into the air from the second step. Midway into her disobedient jump, she screamed. I suppose a good mom would have been concerned about an injury. Not me—I was just mad. I know, you wish I were raising your children.
“Mom! My hand hurts!” Summer wailed.
By this point, however, I was immune to wailing. As it happens, my mom was a pediatric nurse, so I took a lesson from her playbook, glanced at her hand, and very matter-of-factly said, “Looks fine to me. Now stop crying and finish your sandwich.” And then, just in case I didn’t appear callous enough, I threw in a final “That’s what you get for playing on the escalator.”
I was so irritated! Here I was, trying to get ready to speak in front of a standing-room-only crowd—on parenting, mind you—and I couldn’t get my own children to obey one simple request. I was so distracted by my circumstances that I forgot to gird up for battle. I forgot to pray. I let my flesh overpower my spirit, and do you know what I heard whispering in my ear the entire time I was speaking?
You’re failing. You can’t even get your own children to obey.
If these moms knew what you were really like, they would get up and leave.
You’re a bad mother. You don’t have anything to say that’s worth hearing.
I fought for every. single. word. that came out of my mouth that afternoon. No one seemed to know it, but I was in a full-blown war up there onstage. The voice of condemnation that spoke to my soul was almost audible, and it threatened to undo me.
Have you ever heard that voice? You don’t need to be a public speaker to hear it. The devil knows his audience, and he knows our weak spots. His goal? To cloud our vision long enough so that we lose sight of the true fight.
As long as we live on this earth, the voices clamoring to fill our souls with condemnation will persist. Weary, worn-out mothers are perfect targets for the enemy, and I was ripe for the picking that afternoon. You see, Satan is a master at making us believe that someone else could do our job better than we can. He knew exactly how to get to me that day, and he used my bad day to make me feel like a bad mom.
At that moment, I had a choice to make: I could accept the lies of the enemy and see myself through the eyes the accuser of my soul, or I could see myself through the eyes of my Jesus.
When the session ended, I made my way to the back of the stage and found a quiet place to pray. Sometimes prayer doesn’t seem as active as doing something, but in reality, there is nothing more powerful than bringing our whole selves to the Lord in prayer. God says that when we pray, He literally bends down to listen. That’s my Jesus. That’s my Savior.
Even today, tears fill my eyes as I remember His gentle words to me that day: You are loved. Loved when I lose my temper. Loved when I don’t meet someone else’s expectations for me, and loved when I do.
Precious mom, don’t let the enemy lie to you! If you believe the lies, you’ll be right where he wants you. Bad days do not make bad moms. God wants us to know His joy when we have good days—and He wants us to experience His grace when we don’t.
When we are assaulted by lies, we need to remember what and who we’re fighting for. Some days our biggest fight will be to see ourselves as God sees us. Because if God is for us (which He always is), no one—not even Satan himself—can stand against us (see Romans 8:31).
Adapted from Becoming MomStrong: How to Fight with All That’s in You for Your Family and Your Faith by Heidi St. John.