Revive Our Hearts Podcast

God's Grace Is Sufficient for Moms

Leslie Basham: Erin Davis says sometimes moms can be tempted to be discontented.

Erin Davis: Here are the ways that it comes out in my own life. A lot of huffing and puffing. “Ugh. Do I have to do this again?” A lot of throwing up my hands, losing my cool, also using the word overwhelmed to describe my life more often than I use words like, “blessed, happy, fulfilled.” “If I didn’t have these children, I wouldn’t be so overwhelmed.” Well, if I didn’t have these children, I also wouldn’t have a lot of really wonderful things.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Wednesday, July 9, 2014.

In the month of July, we’re letting you know about the True Woman Line of books. When you see the True Woman seal on a book, you can know it reflects the kind of teaching you hear on Revive Our Hearts. And it’s written by an author who is committed to living out these principles in her life by God’s graceThis week we’re getting to know one of those True Woman authors better. Here’s Nancy to introduce her.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: One of the core commitments of Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman Movement is to encourage women to be intentional about passing on the baton of truth to the next generation. So I think about the True Woman Manifesto for example which we have talked about a number of times in recent years on Revive Our Hearts. One of the tenants of that True Woman Manifesto is:

Children are a blessing from God and women are uniquely designed to be bearers and nurturers of life whether it be their own biological or adopted children or other children in their sphere of influence.

So this week we are talking about that whole aspect of motherhood, receiving children as a blessing from the Lord and the calling that we as women have to be bearers and nurturers of life. I’m so thrilled about a book that a dear friend of mine has written. The friend’s name is Erin Davis. Her husband is on the staff here at Revive Our Hearts. Their family is a part of our ministry. Erin is the primary blogger at LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com and has a very fruitful ministry there with teenagers. She has written this terrific new book called, Beyond Bath Time: Embracing Motherhood as a Sacred Role.

Erin, all that I just said was a big mouthful. It makes you sound like you are one very busy woman, and you are. But the joy and focus of your life in this season is those two little boys, so far, that God has entrusted to you and Jason. In this book and on our program this week, you have been sharing really transparently about the journey that it has been for you to embrace motherhood—not just to endure it—but to embrace it as a sacred calling, as a sacred role. I know there are points of your journey that a lot of women listening, or the daughters of women listening, relate to.

That’s why I want to encourage grandmoms to get this book, women who have grown daughters who are now mothering themselves, to get this book and to help spread a whole revolution about the way that we think about motherhood. So thanks for writing the book. Thanks for your commitment to live it out—not perfectly—as you’ve been quick to say. But it’s the commitment of your heart to see motherhood from God’s point of view. And I’m just so grateful that God is helping you to do that and is helping you now to help others who want to do that.

Erin: Thank you.

Nancy: I think in order to see motherhood from God’s point of view, as is true with other areas of life, we have to address the things we believe that aren’t true. We’re bombarded in this culture with wrong ways of thinking. In fact, I wrote a book called, Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Set Them Free. You pick up on that same concept by talking about some of the lies that women believe about motherhood. There are false ways of thinking. There are things that can really put people in bondage who want to be good mothers. For example, one of the big lies that you address is that motherhood is a roadblock to my happiness. Do you think a lot of women really feel that?

Erin: I absolutely do. In fact, this chapter in our book is from real moms that I really know and they are real stories. Now I didn’t go to them and say, “What lies do you believe about motherhood?” because of the nature of lies, they don’t know. But I just spent a lot of time with them, hearing their stories, and hearing them talk about motherhood. I spent a lot of time praying about that and tried to expose the lies that were the undercurrent of the areas that they were wrestling with. I think a lot of moms feel that motherhood is a roadblock to my happiness.

Now, they’re not saying that. If you would go to them and say, “Is motherhood a roadblock to your happiness?” they would say, “No.” But they are living like it is, and they lament these things in their lives that they think would make their life so much better if they could have those things.

For example, one girl in the book is Victoria. She talks about, “Before I had a baby, I could go on weekend trips. I could be more spontaneous. I could go on vacations, and now I can’t do that.” So she was thinking, Oh, I would be so much happier if I could go on a vacation. I would be so much happier if I could be more spontaneous, but this baby is keeping from doing that.

Another girl in the book is my friend, Jordan, who miscarried very early on. She is very honest about the fact that her primary feeling was relief because she felt like, Whew! That was a near miss. I about had my life as I wanted it to be train-wrecked.

Nancy: And then she probably felt guilty.

Erin: She felt guilty about feeling relief. Absolutely. And then she went on to get pregnant and to have a healthy baby girl. But her first year of mothering was a lot like my first year of mothering. She was miserable, and she felt like, Oh, if I hadn’t had this baby, I would be so much happier.

Well, I think a lot of moms feel a version of that. “If I didn’t have these children, I would be happier because I could _____.” Fill in the blank.

Nancy: As you look around you see a lot of moms who do wrestle with the outcome of that in terms of discontentment or disillusionment or bitterness or just kind of a pervasive unhappiness that is the fruit of this way of thinking.

Erin: Sure. It’s not a new problem. In Ezekiel 16:45 and 48, we find God chastising the moms of Jerusalem for the same sort of feelings. The verse says, “You are the daughter of your mother, who loathed her husband and her children. . . . As I live, declares the Lord GOD, your sister Sodom and her daughters have not done as you and your daughters have done.” 

He’s saying these women are worse than the women of Sodom. We remember Sodom. They got a punishment of fire and brimstone because of their sin. And what is these women’s sin? Bitterness and hatred toward their husbands and toward their children.

Nancy: And that doesn’t always come out in this big, obvious way.

Erin: Absolutely. It rarely does.

Nancy: It can be just an undercurrent of discontent or resentment. These people in my life, my husband, my children, have made my life more restrictive; they’ve made my life more difficult.

Erin: Here are the ways that it comes out in my own life. A lot of huffing and puffing. “Ugh. Do I have to do this again?” A lot of kind of throwing up my hands, losing my cool, also using the word overwhelmed to describe my life more often than I use words like, “blessed, happy, fulfilled.” “If I didn’t have these children, I wouldn’t be so overwhelmed.” Well, if I didn’t have these children, I also wouldn’t have a lot of really wonderful things.

So I’m choosing to focus on that. Something that used to happen at my house a lot more often (and I try not to let it happen as much anymore) is that as soon as my husband walks in the door, I announce, “I am off-duty. I can’t handle these children one more minute.” And the message is, “Oh, these children are wearing me down. I am miserable in this parenting role.”

But if someone would come to me and say, “Do your children make you happy?” I would say, “Yes, of course! Do you want to see their picture?” But in reality, I am living like if I didn’t have these children I would be less stressed; I would be happier; my body would return to its eighteen-year-old version of itself; all of those things that I think would make me happy.

Nancy: But the fact is there is a lot about parenting that is challenging. And depending what the season of life is, there may be sleepless nights or screaming kids or sick kids or restricted schedules. So we are not saying that if you embrace motherhood as a sacred role, that all that stuff goes away and life becomes easy.

Erin: That’s right. Life isn’t easy as a parent. Life isn’t easy if you’re not a parent. There are those elements of parenthood that are always going to be there, and they can be cumbersome. But 2 Corinthians 12:9–10 says:

But [God] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Nancy: Okay, hold on. I want to read that verse again because it is so huge, for not just mothers, but it spoke to me as I was reading this book. I’m single. I don’t have children. And it was encouraging to me in my calling which can also feel burdensome at times and has its challenges. So whatever your calling, whatever your season of life, here is a core truth of God’s Word if you want to be a true woman of God.

God said to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you.” Sleepless nights, sick kids, restricted schedules, whatever is going on at that season, never can keep the house picked up for more than eight minutes or less. “My grace is sufficient for you.” Right now in this season.

Erin: And Paul says, “I’m content with weaknesses, hardships, persecutions, calamities. For where I am weak, then I am strong.” He’s not saying, “God took all that way from me and clouds parted and birds started singing and everything was wonderful.” But the thing about God and His Word that is so strange and hard to understand, it’s such a great mystery, is that those things are a blessing in that they force us to depend on God. They reveal our need for Him. They reveal His goodness to us and His grace toward us.

So if you want a formula for how to make your baby sleep through the night, I don’t have it. My son, Noble, didn’t sleep through the night until he was a year-and-a-half old. And if you want to make your toddler behave, I don’t know how to tell you how to do it. But I do know that when that baby wasn’t sleeping through the night, I was pressed into prayer in a way that I never had been before because I couldn’t do it in my own strength. I was exhausted. And when Eli, my toddler, pushes against me and presses against me and I am at my wits end and there’s no way I can have self-control on my own, it presses me into God in new ways.

So am I always happy as a mom? No, I’m not. But the lesson is that happiness really isn’t the end goal. Easy street never leads us anywhere we want to go anyway. Easy street just takes us to boring places. But happiness . . .

Nancy: Some of us are thinking, “I would like to try it.”

Erin: She’d like to try it out for her own. I understand that. I’d like to walk down easy street every once in a while. But that child may make your life more difficult. But stop focusing on that. Are they a hindrance to your happiness? Maybe, but they are the way to so many other things that are so much richer than happiness. So the lie is: My children are a hindrance to my happiness. Okay. Get over it. Focus on all the things that they do to enrich your life.

Nancy: And Erin, what you shared there is so crucial, not just for young moms but for women, for men, for every one of us in every season of our lives.  As I often say here on Revive Our Hearts, anything that makes me need God is a blessing. It’s a blessing. I latch onto His grace in a way that I wouldn’t otherwise do if I didn’t feel so desperate and so needy and so overwhelmed.

That’s where we see the power of God displayed in such great ways when it’s our weakness matched up to His grace, then we see it, the kids see it, the people around us see it. They know we are weak, but they see that He is strong. It becomes a way of displaying the greatness and the power of God which is really what our calling is all about.

Erin: We teach our children that song from very early on. “Yes, Jesus loves me. We are weak, but He is strong.” And as moms, that is so true. We are weak to mother well. But He is strong. He is faithful. If your children are a daily, or sometimes at my house, minute by minute reminder of God’s strength in light of my weakness, how can I complain about that?

Nancy: I’ll tell you, in order to counter the lies, we need to learn to counsel our hearts according to the truth. I think there’s a mom listening right now who just needs to say it out loud. The kids may be there, somebody else may be around, they may think you’re nuts, but just say, “His grace is sufficient for me. His grace is sufficient for me.”

Erin: At my house, we frequently pray for fruits of the Spirit. I will say to my children, “Mommy is struggling. We’re going to ask Him for love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control.” And when my children are struggling, I’m able to say to them, and they’ve seen it, “You can’t do this on your own, buddies.” So we are going to ask Him for love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control. So Mom, when you feel like you are going to blow your top, it’s a teachable moment not a burden.

Nancy: We are weak, but He is strong.

You address a number of other lies in this book about motherhood. We can't spend a long time on the others, but let's just touch on some of what they are. I know a lot of women will relate to these.

One lie that is being told moms is that motherhood is define by the decision whether or not to work (outside the home). Every mom works! For a lot of moms in our generation, success as a mother has been defined by whether or not they choose to work outside the home.

Erin: I'm so tired of the conversations about modern motherhood revolving around this question. Am I a good mom if I work? Can I stay at home and be a mom? Can I work and be a good mom?

I feel like this focuses our attention on the pixels, and we miss the big picture. What I've seen is, stay-at-home moms are miserable because they feel like, If I had something outside the home I'd be more fulfilled; I'd be doing something more meaningful. This is what my stay-at-home mom friends tell me.

And working moms are feeling like, Oh, if I was able to be home with my kids more I'd have better balance; I'd be a better mom. So, stay-at-home moms are miserable and looking at the other side of the fence. Working moms are standing on the other side of the fence looking at stay-at-home moms thinking that the grass is greener on their side. We're caught in this revolving door of talking about working vs. staying at home.

The real question is, Will you use your family to do something huge for the kingdom of God? I'm not going to figure out for you the exact way that is going to work for your family. We've gotten very creative about it at our house.

But stop trying to figure out whether you are going to work or not work, and start trying to figure out how you are going to use your family to do something big for the kingdom.

Nancy: Really seeking out what is God's agenda for me at this season of my life—working with your husband, working with other mature believers to seek the Lord and to say, "What is this season for in my life?" That may look different at different seasons.

Erin: I think this is an area, like the greater motherhood area where many Christians have sidelined their faith. They've never asked God in prayer or Bible or in seeking wise counsel what His will is for the way they work, the pieces of their family and their life together. They have never prayed about whether to continue working or to stay at home or how to work that out. So they are frustrated and overwhelmed and they don't have the answers. The simplest step is to take it to God and say, "What is your plan for my family in this area? 

Nancy: Okay, there is another lie, which I think a lot of women wrestle with, mothers or not mothers, but particularly when it comes to motherhood. And that is that the ultimate goal of motherhood is perfectionism—the pressure to mother perfectly. Is there a woman who doesn’t feel that?

Erin: I don’t know or I’ve never met her. This is a huge lie and the friend of mine who revealed it to me is a great mom. She’s like a poster child for a great mom. She has four kids plus foster children. She home schools them. She’s always calm. She has great hair. I mean, she is a perfect mom. When I interviewed her for this book, I had no idea that this would be an area that she would hone in on.

She talked about that she gets two messages from the culture about motherhood. The first is that her children are a distraction for her and what she wants. And the second is, but if you’re going to mother, you better raise great kids that are perfectly behaved and do perfectly in school. You need to manage date nights with your husband once a month. You need to have a perfectly clean home. You need to be instilling this, this, and this. You need to be piping Mozart in to your room. You’ve got to be doing flash cards when they are in their high chair. And on and on and on.

And so she is a mom, and she sees the kingdom value of it. But she’s in this pressure cooker where she feels like she has to do it perfectly. And she’s not doing it perfectly. And so she continues to struggle in her role.

Nancy: So what do you say to that mom?

Erin: I think we just have to realize how unrealistic it is. The culture is sending us that message across the board. It always bothers me, those celebrity moms who are on the cover of magazines. “She gave birth three days ago, and now look at her in this bikini.” It’s so completely unrealistic. And so to some degree, we have to just shut those messages out and not let them filter in.

But Paul, again, encourages us with some great words in Scripture. Philippians 3:12 says: “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own" why? “because Christ Jesus has made me his own.”

So the beauty of exposing lies is that once you are aware of it, you have the power to do something about it. But that’s not enough. You’re going to have to replace it with God’s truth. God’s truth is, “Yep. You’re not perfect. But press on because the perfect one has already redeemed you. And He who has started a good work in you is going to carry it on to completion. He’s not interested in perfection from you.”

So be faithful to walk through your calling and to depend on Him. Jesus isn’t asking you to do it perfectly. He’s asking you to do it well and to depend on Him, and that’s all that you can do. And so when you start to feel that pressure to have a perfect house, perfect body, perfect marriage, perfect children, just call it out as a lie—that’s what it is—and replace it with God’s truth.  

Nancy: I think that a cousin to that lie is another one that you address which is that motherhood will make you holy.

Erin: That’s right.

Nancy: You either have to be perfect or motherhood will make you a godly woman. And that’s a lie, too.

Erin: It seems counter-intuitive to place that lie in the same chapter with these other lies about mothering perfectly or motherhood being a hindrance to your happiness, but I think it is just as dangerous. We are in danger of swinging the pendulum too far in the other direction. You don’t get any more holy with each baby that you bring home. It doesn’t give you preferred parking in heaven to have a bunch of children. There’s no automatic sanctification that happens just by being a mom.

I think it really boils down to entitlement for a lot of moms. They feel like this is hard work. And doesn’t God see what I’m doing? And they feel entitled to whatever—fill in the blank because they are working hard as mothers. Or maybe it’s not directed at God. Maybe it’s directed at their husbands, that’s probably more often the case. “Doesn’t he know how hard I’m working as a mom? I deserve 'me-time.' I deserve girls’ nights out. I deserve a bigger house to contain this. I deserve on and on and on.” Or, “I deserve from my children because of all I do for them.”

And certainly they should be grateful, and that’s something you are going to have to teach them. But this attitude of, “I deserve something,” or “I’m holier than you are because I am a mom,” or “I’m a better Christian because I’m a mom.” It doesn’t really hold water when we hold it up to God’s Word. There’s nothing in Scripture that tells us being a mom is going to make us more holy.

Nancy: In fact, to the contrary, we aren’t holy. Only God can make us holy. Our only righteousness or value or worth comes through Christ. That’s where I think the humbling that takes place by not being perfect as a mom is actually the very thing that can press a woman to God’s grace and can sanctify her. It's realizing, “I’m not holy. I’m not perfect. I’m far from it.” If you think you are perfect, once you have children, you will surely realize that you aren’t because they bring out all the imperfections, right?

Erin: I think motherhood is the hottest refiner’s fire I’ve ever been in. I think I’ve thought more highly of myself than I should have before I had children. And those babies and their neediness just exposed a selfishness in me. When my children are disobedient and act up, it reveals the ugliness of my own disobedience in new ways. So they’re not making me holy just by proxy of being my children. But the process of mothering, if I will use it as a refiner’s fire and if I will use it to push me toward God and not away from Him, does have a way of making my heart more like His.

Nancy: Purifies.

Erin: True.

Nancy: Well I want to encourage our listeners to get a copy of your book, Erin, Beyond Bath Time: Embracing Motherhood as a Sacred Role. It’s a great book for young moms, moms with little kids, but also one for those who want to be moms and older moms who want to be an encouragement to younger moms and then single women, like me, who also want to be an encouragement to younger moms. But also for all of us who need to be reminded of God’s grace and His sufficiency and that when we are weak, He is strong.

And in fact, if I had a takeaway, personally, from our conversation today, I would take it back to that verse, 2 Corinthians 12:9 which I think needs to be not only a mantra for mothers, but for all of us. “My grace, God says, is sufficient for you. For my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

And O Father, how I pray that You would encourage moms, women, Your children in our roles, our calling, whatever that looks like. We give to You, we lift up to You our weaknesses, our need, our failures, all the areas where we realize we are not measuring up. We thank You that we can’t be perfect, we know that, but that Christ is perfect. If He lives in us, then we are pleasing to You and Your grace is sufficient for us at every point of need.

So Lord, would You just pour out, I pray, a baptism of grace on many, many listeners today as together we say, “Lord, we are weak, but You are strong.” We are so grateful. We pray it in Jesus name, amen.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss and our guest, Erin Davis, have been encouraging moms to keep investing in the lives of their children. Erin is participating on the Revive Our Hearts blog today. You can post your comment or question and interact with Erin at ReviveOurHearts.com. Just scroll to the end of today’s transcript.

You can also get a copy of the book you’ve been hearing about today. We’ll send you Beyond Bath Time by Erin Davis when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size. 

You know, when someone moves into a new role at work, they often get training. And they continue to work on personal development as they continue in their role. Well, motherhood is a very important job. Think of the book Beyond Bath Time as part of your ongoing training and development in your meaningful role.

Ask for Beyond Bath Time when you call with your gift of any size. The number is 1–800–569–5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com. We’ll gladly send one book per household. We’re making this offer through this Friday, July 11, so let us hear from you. 

Leslie: Thanks, Nancy. Well, after Erin Davis’s second child arrived, she felt like a dark cloud appeared over her life. She gives practical advice to anyone facing postpartum depression tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version.

 

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.