Christ in the Chaos

Kimm Crandall, the author of this article, has recently released a book called Christ in the Chaos: How the Gospel Changes Motherhood.

Not long after a woman becomes a mother, she becomes aware of the "mom laws." The laws are vague and sometimes unspoken, but every mom senses the pressure to obey them. We feel the squeeze from parenting books and advice from friends. They haunt us in blog posts listing ten ways we're probably screwing up our kids. They tell us we must do more and try harder.

The Awesome Mom

Sometimes, we actually manage to live up to our idea of the perfect mom. Working in our own strength, we achieve to what we think the mom manual says we should be doing. Maybe we manage to do the right crafts or cook the right sort of food. Maybe we sweetly answer our preschooler's endless questions. When we finally measure up to the awesome mom title we've worked so hard to achieve, we feel our ability to perform determines our worthiness.

The Lousy Mom

Often, though, reality clashes with our vision. Sometimes we're too exhausted to even try to be mom of the year, so we feel defeated before we even get out of bed. Other times, people don't fall in line with the picture in our heads. The perfect story time is ruined when the kids start kicking each other. Our toddler throws a tantrum in the checkout line. We prepare the ideal meal, only to send our kids to time-out for bickering.

And some days, we're the ones who need the time-out. The mom manual's mantra of "try harder, do better" feels like an uphill trudge. We snap at our kids and husbands, then retreat in shame. We realize we can never live up to the mom manual, and we don't feel like we can go on trying.

A Better Identity

Whether we're basking in our awesomeness or whimpering in defeat, we forget that our identity is not found in being a mom, as wonderful as that is. Our identity is in Christ; we are His beloved daughters (Eph. 1:5).

Christ's death and resurrection secured more than just a clean slate so we can start fresh with our own good works. He, as our substitute, gives us His righteousness. His love doesn't say "try harder, do better" but "done" (Gal. 3:1–3).

Christ in the Chaos

When we really embrace Christ's love for us, we no longer have anything to prove. It changes how we view God, how we view ourselves, and how we relate to others—especially our children.

We no longer see God as an angry stepfather waiting on us to mess up, or as a heavenly Santa Claus waiting to see if we're naughty or nice. When we see God's love freely bestowed, we want to be more like Christ (Rom. 8:31–39). Not as a means of securing His favor, but because we desire fellowship with Him.

We no longer read the Scripture as a list of rules that we can never keep, but as a beautiful picture of our Redeemer. Putting off the old self and putting on the new is no longer about trying to be good enough; it's about showing the world the beauty of our Savior. Our good works are not about trying to get on God's (or man's) good side, but about being a testimony of God's goodness.

When we try to display God's goodness in our own strength, our works become self-exalting. But when we bask in Christ's love and base our identity on the title of beloved daughter, we can love and serve others with motives informed by the gospel instead of self-righteousness (Phil. 3:9). Those messy, hard days when we fail do not change God's disposition towards us. Because we have Christ's righteousness, we are loved just as much on the good days as we are on the bad days.

There are no "three steps to gospel motherhood" because the gospel is not something to do; it is something to believe (Jn. 6:29). Believe Christ's life, death, resurrection, and ascension were all for us. Believe His perfection was enough.

Then rest, knowing that it is finished and we no longer need to prove our worth with our performance. Because of Christ, we now remain His beloved—and He is well pleased.

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