A Legacy of Grace

Mother's Day is almost here. I've been gratefully thinking of my mother and wondering what kind of mother my children will remember when they are grown. It won't be Supermom. She died long ago. I no longer measure my worth by perfect birthday parties, trips to the zoo, little league, and ballet classes. (Not that I think there is anything wrong with these things. I just can't do them due to my health. If I could, I would!) I don't beat myself up over dirty bathrooms or piled high laundry. I know I don't have to follow the latest Pinterest trends to be a good mother. But last night as I lay wide-eyed in the dark listening to swirling wind and pelting rain batter our little tin roof, I wondered what legacy I am creating for my kids. What impression are my words and actions leaving upon the little souls I care for?

Though I'm glad I have learned not to hold myself to an impossible standard, I know I sometimes allow my illness to excuse bad behavior. I'm ashamed to admit it, but deep down I justify my sharp tone, exasperated sigh, and angry body language with the pain turning my stomach inside out and the fatigue transforming me into a useless rag doll. Extenuating circumstances permit me to withhold empathy from the small boy who late at night cries real tears over real fears which seem ridiculous to me, right?


My illness does not entitle me to any free passes. I have one shot to make the most of this parenting thing. Disease has stolen so much from me. I cannot play the victim, and allow it to thieve away my best opportunity to make the love of God tangible to my precious ones.

But there is this very real problem of being a sinner. Trial is a wine press--it squeezes and applies pressure until juice is extracted from the fruit. What is inside is what comes out. I exude sin because I am full of sin, full of self. Despite my best efforts, I am unable to live up to even my reduced standards of "good motherhood." I will inevitably fail to be the woman I want to be.

It was with these thoughts anxiety began to use my insides as percussion instruments, almost drowning out the sound of the rain. I remembered how I had endlessly chided Sara for picking the pretty purple flower out of the butterfly garden with a disgusted tremble. I shuddered as I recalled my impatience with the kids as they noisily dragged up chairs to our too-small counter in our too-small kitchen, crowding me out of my workspace, asking to "help," which may be the most exhausting request of all. I saw in my mind's eye two sets of sweet brown eyes filled with confusion and hurt, and had a wild thought--I'm failing! I am ruining my children!

I suddenly realized I was trying on that old cape I thought I had put away two years ago. Supermom may be dead, but the woman left behind is still trying to save herself. She still believes her performance will determine how her kids turn out. Gently, tenderly, Truth sidled up beside her, and whispered to her in the dark--

Micah and Sara don't need another savior. They already have One.
They don't need a perfect mother. They need a penitent one.
They don't need to witness unflinching strength. They need to behold God's glory in human weakness.
They don't need a hero. They need a damsel running again and again to the ultimate Hero with all her inadequacies, failures, and sin.
They need "I'm sorry," "Please forgive me," "Mommy was wrong," and "This is why Jesus had to die--for mommies like me."
Micah and Sara need grace.

Grace doesn't give me permission to be the biggest brat in the house (Romans 6). Rather, it gives me the grit to keep aiming for God's smile in the face of failure. It assures me that He is somehow working good in, through, and in spite of my brokenness. He does that, you know.

Grace holds the balance--I can neither parent so poorly I ensure the destruction of my children nor perform so well that I ensure their success. Grace both covers my failures, and puts me in my place. It supplies a welcoming smile on my tired face when baby birds chirp--"Help! Help! Wanna help!" It provides binding when sharp eyes and words wound tender souls. It silences the broken record-like reproach, and finds a glass jar in which to showcase a purple flower freshly-picked by tiny, well-meaning fists. It calms the fears of a sick mother in the night, inspiring her to rise, lean on fresh mercies, and try again. It fills her with the Sweet Spirit who enables her to love in the little things until the little things make well-worn trails through the little ones' hearts, leading them home to Grace Personified.

The mom who burns her cape is the bravest mom of all. This mom courageously admits her limits, and waits with expectation upon the Lord to perform what she cannot. She plants the seed and pleads for it to be given growth. She knows how weak she is, and trusts in the infinite power of her God. She is a mother on her knees because she knows without her Savior neither she nor her little ones can stand. She knows God is after her dependence, not her capabilities.

I am not the mother the holiday cards talk about. I am the mother who yells and fails and falls flat on her face. But from the ground I call out to my God. My kids hear it. They see it. They drink of the wine pressed out by trial--fermented, aged, entirely transformed by glorious, glorious grace.

Grace, grace, God's grace......

Feet quick to run to Jesus and an extravagant expenditure of grace. This is my legacy. And I'm okay with that.

Happy Mother's Day! 

I have a cape to burn.