Mom Set Free
• CHAPTER 1 •
The Pressure to Be Enough
The Freedom to Rely on the “Enough-ness” of Christ
During my first pregnancy, I can clearly remember people—friends and strangers alike—telling me how much I would love being a mom. How I would love my son so much that I would feel like my heart would burst. And they were right. The moment the nurse laid my newborn son’s bare body on my chest and I felt his heart beat against mine, I knew there was nothing in this world I wouldn’t do for him. My instantaneous love for him overwhelmed me.
That newborn baby is now a teenager, and I am still caught off guard by how the very sight of him, along with his three younger brothers, slays me.
However, what I don’t remember anyone telling me before my first son was born is that motherhood would not only enlarge my heart but it would also expose all my weaknesses and inadequacies,
and that there would be days when I’d feel so desperate that I wouldn’t even recognize myself. I didn’t see that coming. I didn’t expect that motherhood would reveal both the beautiful and the not-so-beautiful parts of my heart.
What I Wish I’d Known
I recently attended a baby shower for a young woman named Nicole. She was a soon-to-be first-time mom and a woman I very much admire and adore. To call her wise beyond her years would be an understatement.
The shower was a joyous occasion, as all baby showers are, but the joy at this shower was palpable. Nicole and her husband, Jimmy, had long prayed and hoped for this “miracle baby” whom we were all eager to embrace and celebrate.
However, just about halfway through the celebration, I felt a strong inclination to pull my friend aside and warn her that parenting isn’t all petits fours, pink lemonade, and filtered Instagram photos. Perhaps it was because I was on the tail end of a very defeating week of parenting. The kind where my joy was lost in the battles. Failures outweighed victories. Fighting trumped kindness. All my intentionality felt worthless. And I was mentally and physically wiped out.
You’ll be happy to know I didn’t ruin the shower. I focused on the gift this child will be to Nicole and Jimmy. But soon thereafter, Nicole and I grabbed coffee and, because I love
her, I shared with her some of the things I wish I’d known as a new mom.
I said things like:
This parenting thing is hard. Really hard. And there will be a lot of mornings when you want to pull the covers over your head and stay in bed because you don’t have the mental, physical, or emotional strength to meet the demands of the day and be the mom you want to be.
And when you do muster up the strength to put your feet on the floor and take that one next step, you will want to say, with the little energy you can summon, “Who wants to play hide and seek? Doesn’t that sound like fun! Okay, so you go hide, and be sure to find a really great spot where I’ve never found you before, and Mommy will come look for you after I count to five hundred.” Yes, you will do this because you are falling apart. It won’t mean you don’t love your children with all you have. It just means you’re human. And that’s okay.
And you will make mistakes. Lots of them. And you will have regrets. Big ones. And you will need Jesus like you’ve never needed Him before!
But, girlfriend, what I most want to tell you is this: On the days when you feel like you’re not enough, hold on tight to the truth that you have a Savior who is enough. And what is hard for you is not hard for Him! So run to Him. Rely on Him. Depend on Him.
Isn’t that what we most want to hear?
We all need another mom to affirm the “crazy” we feel. We
need to know that we’re not the only one whose fierce love for our children coexists with feelings of failure and desperation.
We all need another mom to remind us—over and over again—that we have a powerful God who has given us His perfect son, Jesus Christ. And He is our enough.
The Relief God Promises
When we’re feeling pushed far beyond our human limitations, and we look in the mirror only to find our face worn and weary with the day’s demands, we can turn to God’s Word and read the relief God promises.
O Jacob, how can you say the Lord does not see your troubles?
O Israel, how can you say God ignores your rights?
Have you never heard?
Have you never understood?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of all the earth.
He never grows weak or weary.
No one can measure the depths of his understanding.
He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.
Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion.
But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
They will walk and not faint.
(40: 27–31 NLT)
Did you get all that? There’s a lot of relief packed into this passage:
• God does not lose track of us.
• God very much cares what happens to us.
• God’s knowledge and understanding cannot be measured.
• God never grows weak or weary.
• He knows everything. Every. Single. Thing.
• He gives power to the weak.
• He gives strength to the powerless.
What we learn through the words of Isaiah is that who God is, which is sovereign, and what He gives us, which is grace, is enough. And He wants us to trust Him. When we’re exhausted—both mentally and physically—He wants us to rely on Him to be all that we need. He wants us to recognize that parenting is actually meant to—designed to—deepen our dependence on Him. He is wooing our hearts closer and closer to His in and through our kids.
God actually has a simple but profound message for us regarding our quest to be enough. In Psalms 46:10, His voice
breaks through and proclaims, “Be still and know that I am God.”
I have clung to this verse for years. In fact, I most love the New American Standard translation that says, “Cease striving and know that I am God.” I’ve recently discovered something that makes this verse even more meaningful to me. The Hebrew meaning for “be still” is “enough.” Oh, how profound this is for our lives and for our parenting. He is saying, Enough of trying to be enough!
The Squeeze of Vertical and Horizontal Pressure
Whether you’re in the middle of raising tiny babies, tantruming toddlers, tenacious teenagers, or adult kids, you’re likely well acquainted with the hopeless feeling of being “not enough” for your children. But here’s the thing. As we seek to overcome the pressure we feel to be enough for our kids, we also have to take an honest look at the pressure we feel to be enough for God. See, most of us aren’t just trying to be enough for our kids, which is the horizontal pressure we feel. We’re also trying to be enough for God, and that’s the vertical pressure I want us to talk about honestly on this journey together.
Do you ever fear (or maybe the better question is, how often do you fear?) that you are disappointing God with your personal failures and your parenting mistakes? That pressure usually leads us to do one of two things. With clenched fists and gritted teeth, we try harder to keep God happy and not lose His love and
acceptance. Or, we give up because we assume God has given up on us. Neither of which draws us closer to His heart, where He wants us to hear Him saying, “I don’t need you to impress me. I want you to rely on me.”
And when it comes to parenting—where we experience the horizontal pressure to prove we’re enough—we just keep searching for newer and better ways to control our child’s behavior, secure our child’s success, or change our child’s heart. And none of it works—at least, not for long.
Is it any wonder that under all this pressure we crack?
Are you tired of being the mom who is barely stumbling along, crushed under the pressure to be “enough”? Are you tired of feeling that you can’t catch your breath, can’t keep up, and can’t be all that your children need you to be? Are you tired of being tired?
I get it.
The Enough-ness of Christ
I spent entirely too long trying to prove to myself, to God, and to everybody around me that I was enough. Only in recent years have I begun to understand what Paul meant when he said that in our pursuit to be enough, we deny and reject the work of Christ—it’s as if “Christ died for nothing” (Galatians 2:21 NIV). In other words, if we ever had a shot at being enough, then everything Jesus endured on our behalf to reconcile us to God was pointless. God never called us to be enough. Not for Him and not for our kids. Not for our spouse and not for our church. He calls us to be loved. To be His beloved. This title has been gifted to us and can never be
taken away from us. All because of Jesus. So we can stop trying to be enough because Jesus was, and is, our more than enough.
So the next time we wrestle with the question “Am I enough?” rather than try to justify our enough-ness, let’s see our question as a cue to recall the preeminence of Christ in our lives and our daily mothering. We can unashamedly proclaim, as Charles Spurgeon once said, “I have a great need for Christ. I have a great Christ for my need.” It is only in this confession—“I have a great need for Christ”—that we are relieved from the guilt of not being all we desire to be for our kids. It is then that we become grateful for all that Christ already is for them.
Jesus freed us from trying to prove that we are enough. He lived a sinless life, died a sinless death, conquered the grave, and has freely given us His perfect record (Romans 3:23–25 NIV).When we are in Christ, there is nothing to prove. Let that sink into your weary and worn-out soul.
We get to rest in the assurance of God’s grace and His sovereignty over us and over the kids we long to love and lead well. We are free!
Rest assured, when I say “We are free” I don’t mean we’ve been given an excuse to be a lazy or lousy parent. This is not a permission slip to give up. This is not an out. This is an in.
An invitation to:
• lay down what God has not asked us to carry so we thrive in what He has
• embrace our significance in light of God’s sovereignty
• discover God’s acceptance of us and affection for us, just as we are
• receive God’s grace so we can reflect God’s heart to our kids
• stop trying so hard and start enjoying our kids more
• weave grace into how we discipline our kids
• trust God with the kids He has entrusted to us
• become more of the moms we long to be for our kids
An invitation to trust that “everything that goes into a life of pleasing God has been miraculously given to us by getting to know, personally and intimately, the One who invited us to God. The best invitation we ever received!” (2 Peter 1:3–4 MSG).
We have been personally invited—by name—to walk in freedom from the pressure to be “enough”—for our children and for God.
Let’s turn now to see how this freedom applies to some of the immense pressure we face in our daily mothering!