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From Failure to Free

It’s all around us. On our computers, at our kids’ schools, in our churches and Bible studies, in our playgroups and — more than anything — in our minds.

No one is saying it to us directly. No one looks into our eyes and says, “Wow, you are one big, fat, stinking failure.”

But we feel it. We feel it when they say, “Oh, you only nursed for four months? They say you should nurse for two years so your baby can get full brain development.”

Is that why my kids can’t follow directions? Is that why they forget everything I say the second after I say it?

Is that why they act surprised every morning when I ask them if they’ve brushed their teeth, as if it’s some new fad all the moms are trying? Is it because their brains aren’t actually fully developed inside those heads?

I’m sorry, you sweet children of mine. I tried. You didn’t want full brain development. Really, it’s your fault. I offered you my milk while you bawled and gagged, and you chose to have an underdeveloped brain. So sorry about that.

We feel it when they say, “Is that your son at the top of the play structure? He could really get hurt. The other kids might want to try it, too. He should probably come down, don’t you think?”

Climbing happens to be something my boy did — a lot. Not all boys have an innate desire to see how many heart attacks they can give their mother in the span of a few short years, but mine did.

Maybe it goes back to the brain development thing.

I tried to make him play quietly on the ground, but he ate the mulch. I tried to let him swing on the swings, but he climbed out. I encouraged him to play tag. He tackled the girls, and they all cried.

We started going to the park during non-visiting hours.

I hear it when they say their kids are best friends and mine can’t sit in the back seat of the car together without trying to strangle each other.

I hear it when they tell me, “Boy, you sure have your hands full!”

No one has ever offered a helping hand after making that comment. I guess they thought the reminder was somehow helpful. Helpful in making me feel like crap, that’s for sure.

I hear it when a friend announces she fits back into her pre-pregnancy jeans after only six weeks.

I hear it when I remember dropping off my pre-pregnancy jeans at Goodwill almost a decade ago.

I hear it when hatred spills from my children. I hear it when selfishness dominates my children’s hearts. I hear it when my frustration overtakes me and my patience flies out the window, only to come back in the still of night when small eyelids flutter and mama hearts sink.

I hear it in their questions. I see it in their glances. I see it in the mirror.

One word. One word heavy enough to crush my best intentions. One word sharp enough to pierce through my greatest performance.


When do you hear that word rattle against your ear, reminding you of how short you’ve fallen from your perfect standard? When do the voices of the crowd and your mistakes and your would-have-could-have-should-have efforts tell you that you simply don’t measure up and your stomach twists up like a pretzel of shame, dipped in anxiety and sprinkled with fear?

Can I tell you something, sweet mama?

It’s a lie.

From the pit of Hell.

We are bombarded by lies on a moment by moment basis. About our identity. About our womanhood. About our roles as mothers. About our children. The book that told me what to expect when that precious treasure arrived didn’t account for a child that hadn’t read the book and didn’t know the rules.

The friends who told me how children should respond to their mothers forgot to give the memo to my children.

Just like I didn’t measure up to my expectations for myself, my kids didn’t measure up to my expectations, either. They didn’t nurse for long enough. They didn’t play together nicely. They didn’t act the way I expected them to.

I got caught up in the “mom wins” and “mom fails” game. And on the scale of reality, I soon realized that my failures far outweighed my wins. And it wasn’t until I understood the truth that I saw the lie.

What if there aren’t wins or fails in motherhood?

What if motherhood is the place where we lay down our religion and pious notions of self-righteousness at the foot of Jesus and fall helplessly in his arms?

What if motherhood is the place where our children see how madly in love with Jesus we are and want to fall in love with him, too? Not because we’re really great moms, but because we have a really great God.

What if motherhood became less of a competition and more of a transformation — where we take our eyes off the measuring scales of perfection and fix our eyes on the one who makes us whole?

And what if motherhood is the place where the great deceiver works overtime to keep our eyes diverted, because he knows an army of mama bears who rise up with nothing to prove can change the world?

Sweet mama, can I tell you something? Motherhood is most definitely the place where the deceiver works overtime. Because he most certainly knows what is at stake. So he feeds us lies, desperate to make us believe anything but the truth — because he knows the truth will set us free.

And free mamas are no joke.

All women, mothers or not, are susceptible to these lies. Motherhood just amplifies it because somehow we’ve convinced ourselves that we should be enough for our children, and when we’re not — because we’re not — we feel like failures.

And the enemy snacks on our guilt.

You can never defeat the lies unless you know the truth. It’s impossible. You will always succumb to the lies until you hear your name with every beat of your Father’s heart.

If you are in Christ, you are a daughter of the Most High. He delights in you. Don’t believe me? Don’t take my word for it. Listen to what he says about you.

“The Lord delights in those who fear Him, who put their hope in His unfailing love” (Psalm 147:11, NIV).

“For the sake of His great name, the Lord will not reject His people, because the Lord

was pleased to make you His own” (1 Samuel 12:22, NIV).

“No more will anyone call you Rejected…you will no longer be called Ruined.

You’ll be called My Delight…Because God delights in you. As a bridegroom

is happy in his bride, so your God is happy with you” (Isaiah 62:3-5, The Message).

“The King is wild for you” (Psalm 45:11, The Message).

“The King’s daughter is all glorious within: her clothing is of wrought gold”

(Psalm 45:13, KJV).

Once you are His, you are a new creation. A daughter of the King is glorious within. It can’t be any other way. It can’t be changed or revoked. Why? Because He lives inside you!

YOU, sweet mama. You are His daughter. He loves you. And your worth is found in Him.

But I yelled at my kids this morning!

But I haven’t read my Bible in a week!

But I fed my kids chicken nuggets three times this week!

But I spent too much time on my phone this week and didn’t play at the park with my kids!

But I ate microwave popcorn for lunch instead of a salad!

We can talk all day about how we don't measure up to who we need to be. But these are simply the results of lies whispered to hungry hearts.

We can talk all day about how we shouldn’t yell at our kids. But all that does it make us feel guilty — and promise to stop.

My anger, my fear, my need to be more — do more — have more — are symptoms of my insecurity fed by the lies my heart believes.

I should read my Bible, but not because it makes God happy with me. I read my Bible because it’s how I remember. It’s how I remember that God really is good, despite how I feel. It’s how I remember I really am loved, despite how much I’ve failed. It's how I remember that I'm desperate for the grace and power found only in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

And when I remember that God really is good, and I really am loved, He does the changing. He does the sculpting and molding — not changing me into supermom, but into who I already am in him.

“But whoever did want Him, who believed He was who He claimed and would do

what He said, He made to be their true selves, their child-of-God selves” (John 1:12, The Message).

You are loved.

You are a daughter of the King.

And when you stop striving for worth, you'll start living free.

And free mamas are no joke.

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