Common wisdom says that the best thing a mom and dad can do for their children is to love one another. But more important than that is for a child to see that his parents love Jesus Christ. Not, and I’m being very specific here, not merely hear it said that they love Him, but see everyday, and in every possible way, that Mom and Dad truly love Him with all of their mind, soul, and body.It's important for a child to see that his parents love Jesus Christ #imperfectmom @MunsellWendy Click To Tweet
In my case, I’m afraid my children saw a woman who claimed to love God, but in fact, mostly went through the motions of doing what she thought a Christian should do. This occurred, not because I was trying to fool anybody, but because I didn’t know how to live my faith any other way.
My walk with God was more theory than practice…and it showed. I might have been able to deceive myself and others outside our home that I was operating in the spirit of Christ but not, unfortunately for them, my kids.
On any given day my children woke up to a mom who was either gung-ho about getting things done or already anxious about the possibility of not accomplishing anything at all. My approval rating for myself was pretty strict; I got points for checking things off my to-do list and demerits for being unproductive.
This self-induced pressure extended to all areas of my life including my spiritual performance. On the days that I managed to squeeze in “a quiet time” I felt like I had God’s approval, and on days that I didn’t…well, believing that I wasn’t on God’s good side didn’t help me feel better about myself. And that saying about mama feeling good making the whole family feel good is so true! (Sadly, so is the reverse.)...pressure extended to all areas of my life...my spiritual performance. #imperfectmom @MunsellWendy Click To Tweet
If anyone had asked me I would have said, with all honesty, that I loved my life and enjoyed being a homeschool mom, but the daily reality was that the “joy” part of “enjoyed” seemed to be missing. The same was true about loving Jesus – I thought I did, but the day to day facts of my life didn’t bear that out.
So what happens if kids are routinely receiving a mixed message? On one hand, I talked to my children about loving one another as we loved ourselves, and doing unto others as we wanted them to do unto us, and praying and reading the Bible, like a good Christian mom should. Meanwhile though, they heard the irritation in my voice, resented the constant pressure to perform, and discerned the lack of love in my methods of correcting them. The answer? They reacted the only way they could…the way they are wired to by their temperaments, personalities, and sinful natures.
The compliant people-pleasers act the way they think you want them to; the passive-aggressive kids present their “good” side to your face and act out behind your back, and the strong-willed child stands their ground and fights back…any way they can. No amount of demanding, pleading, or exhorting on my part superseded the example they saw and heard me live before them. My witness, for or against the reality of the fruits of the Spirit in my life, was being proclaimed every day.
It wasn’t until the love of Christ became more than head knowledge to me that I was able to truly love my children well in Jesus’s name. None of the trying, on my part, to be a kind, loving, caring mother was effective until it came from a heart that had been forgiven, healed, and transformed by the love of my Heavenly Father. My strength, no matter how well intentioned, was unable to overcome the wounded places in my heart that kept me stuck, a slave to anxiety and performance driven standards.
As I’ve learned to walk with Jesus as the Lover of My Soul instead of the God I Feared I’d Never Please, everything has changed…including my relationship with my children. I’m less worried about how I present myself to my kids and others because my focus is on Jesus. They, on the other hand, respond to the love of Jesus they see, hear, and sense flowing from the heart of Christ through me.
Does that mean that they, or I, are perfect, sinless people? Not at all! But now we’re walking this beautiful, messy thing we call family in the love of Jesus instead of as adversaries. As my children see me set free, walking in vulnerability, confessing, and repenting of my sin instead of hanging on with brittle self-control, I see them letting down their guard and responding to the grace and mercy that Jesus gives – freely and…abundantly.walking this beautiful, messy thing we call family in the love of Jesus... #imperfectmom @MunsellWendy Click To Tweet
Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith...being rooted and grounded in love #imperfectmom @MunsellWendy Click To Tweet
… that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. –Ephesians 3:16-19
About the Author, Wendy Munsell: I’m married to my best friend and love of my life, Patrick. Together, we’ve raised 7 children and are blessed to be grandparents many times over! I enjoy knitting, reading, decorating, and most recently, writing. I’ve learned the hard way how soul-crushing it is to attempt to walk out my salvation in my own strength. After decades of exhausting myself in trying to be a “good Christian,” He unravelled me! I’m finding joy in letting go and trusting God to complete the good work that He has begun. It is my hope to share with you, through story, poems, and personal reflection, the amazing grace God provides when we allow Him make us His own. Join me on my my Pinterest or my Twitter.
How about you? Has your perfectionism hindered your fellowship with Jesus and your children? What has the Lord taught you over your years as a mom? Share with us!