A Perfect Mom

Once, when my children were young, I experienced a long, discouraging day. I guess I had stretched myself a little too far in the preceding weeks and I was feeling the effects.
First, I had been bothered by some things over which I had no control and was misunderstood. Then, I had surgery on my arm which threw me for a loop because it was much more painful than I had anticipated.
Then, more discouraging news. I was down and it showed. Then two of my children got into an argument and so it seemed to be the perfect time to deal with that. Bad timing for them. So, as can be so typical for mothers, my children’s spat became larger in my eyes simply because I was stressed about things that had nothing to do with them.
Well, tension filled the air as I ranted. Then as quickly as my little tornado blew through the room, I walked away leaving confused children who weren’t sure what to do next.
It was evening. Time for the children to get in bed. Before I could do that however, I had to go get my two oldest boys from the farm where they had been cutting grass. I drove in silence feeling rather alone and miserable. As I pulled up, Jordan looked in the window and asked, “Mom, what’s wrong? You seem upset.”
Those words stung. I offered no answer. Somehow the fury in my tornado died with Jordan’s question. I slithered down in my seat like a worm trying to hide in the dirt. We drove home in almost the same silence as I had driven in earlier. I didn’t say much because I couldn’t be trusted. But I thought. For some reason the words of the old hymn “At the Cross” came to my mind.
Alas, and did my Savior bleed? And did my Sovereign die?
Would He devote that sacred head For such a worm as I?

Was it for crimes that I have done, He groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity! grace unknown! And love beyond degree!

Well might the sun in darkness hide, And shut his glories in,
When Christ, the mighty Maker, died For man the creature’s sin.

But drops of grief can ne’er repay The debt of love I owe:
Here, Lord, I give myself away, ‘Tis all that I can do!

At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light,
And the burden of my heart rolled away,
It was there by faith I received my sight, And now I am happy all the day!
Isaac Watts must have felt the weight of his sin to be able to write such a hymn. To think that my Savior was quite aware of all my “tornadoes” when He died upon the cross is truly amazing to me. Mr. Watts is right, my feeling terribly guilty can never repay the debt I owe -- my debt was paid by Christ at the cross. And just as I received the free gift of salvation, I must receive His gentle rebuke, confess my own sin, and restore the relationships I had broken.
I didn’t respond so quickly. I wanted to feel sorry for myself a little longer I guess. When we got home, the children were quick to do everything I said. I had no trouble with disobedience.
Time passed. I did the mom stuff. But I had no joy and I was not “happy all the day.”
The lights were out in the children’s rooms. I walked down the hall and then peeked in GraceAnna’s room.
Normally, she would have said something to me -- but not tonight. I guess if I had been a young girl of eleven who had just been treated unfairly, I wouldn’t have said anything either.
As I stood in the doorway of her room, I wanted to go in and hug her but I felt so unworthy. How could she want to receive a hug from a mom who had treated her so unjustly?
“Well might the sun in darkness hide, And shut his glories in, When Christ, the mighty Maker, died For man the creature’s sin.”
The words of Isaac Watts echoed in my mind.
She spoke. “Mom, would you come kiss me goodnight?’’
Now why in the world would she want a kiss from me? I didn’t deserve it. I hadn’t even asked for her forgiveness. But she forgave without a request.
After that I walked to Grant’s room. Even before I got there, he said, “Mom? Is that you? Will you come in here with me?”
Wow. I said, “Sure, I’ll be there in a minute.” I knew I had to apologize to everyone first.  And then I went to tell my son a story before he fell asleep.  I’ve never regretted it.
As I confessed my sin to each of my children, I thought of how undeserving I was for their gentle and gracious spirits.
But even more than that I thought about how undeserving I am to find grace and mercy at the cross. Why would He devote that sacred head for such a worm as I?
But He did. My Savior bled and died for this worm. He died, not so that I could wallow in self-pity, but so I could receive His forgiveness and then move on.
All these years I’ve mothered, I have so wished to be the perfect mom. I have so wished I could make every right decision and so wished I would never ever blow it. Perfection. Seems like such a noble goal.
But I am still learning that Jesus is the only perfect One. He is the only One Who will never ever blow it, Who always makes right decisions. And He is the Only One Who can enable me to live in such a way to please Him. I could have called out to Him when I was stressed. I could have received His help when I was burdened. I could have rested in His grace when I was misunderstood. I could have allowed Him to defend me when I was misunderstood. I could have trusted Him to help me deal fairly with my children. But I didn’t choose His way of escape, I didn’t choose to please Him.
And you know what? He would have helped me had I run to Him when I really needed Him. But He was still ready to help me after I chose my own way. And when the guilt of my sin was crushing me because of my own doing - He was the One right there rolling away the burden of my heart. He’s just that good.
The next day, GraceAnna, Jameson, and I enjoyed lunch together at Subway. As we were sitting in one of the yellow booths, with the sun shining brightly through the window, I said to GraceAnna, “I don’t want to be a mean mama like I was yesterday. I’m asking the Lord to help me. Will you pray for me?”
She agreed to pray but then she gave me a deliberate focused gaze, as if to make sure I really understood her point. “Mom, do you really believe that just because of one time I would think you’re a mean mom?”
One time. She said one time. I knew there had been lots of times but she said “one time.” Her words seem to slap me in the face. I am a sinner. I know that I am not and neither will I ever be perfect. No matter how hard I try, I will mess up but . . . how much will I mess up? What will be the pattern of my life? What direction am I heading? Am I learning from my sins and moving forward? Am I messing up more and more or less and less? Did I want to continue having outbursts or did I want God to purge this sin from me?
No, I didn’t want the pattern of my life to be one of outbursts. I had prayed for this. I had asked God to help me. And I thought about how distraught I was over this particular sin with my children. God was showing me how good it is to be grieved over sin because that’s how a saved and growing Christian feels when he sins.
It’s proof positive that God is working and perfecting and molding and shaping.
And that girl - GraceAnna - through her simple observation so encouraged me! Now, if only those people in Subway knew the joy of such a slap in the face made by young fresh-cheeked girl with a dorito in one hand and a sandwich in the other.
OK, I really did feel like dancing in the middle of the Subway line.
But I didn’t.
So many years later, I still think about the lessons of my outburst. I’m not perfect, I’ve had some more, but God in His grace is still working on me.

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