“Is Jesus in my heart yet?”
This is the question I asked my mom the day after I decided to give Him my life. I don’t remember how old I was, perhaps 6 or 7, but I very clearly remember promising myself that I was never going to do anything wrong again.
I’ve spent my whole life trying to make good on that promise.
For the most part, I did a pretty good job. I mean, there may have been that year I lied about doing my math lessons. I’ve said things I shouldn’t have. I’ve been selfish and unloving. But overall my life has been a stellar example of what it looks like to follow the rules.
When I was a student, my biggest struggles had to do with making the best grades. My rule book told me to work harder, make the right friends, and get in good with the teachers in order to meet my goals. It pretty much worked. If I didn’t make the grade I wanted, I could pinpoint where I had fallen short in my rules.
I struggled as a teacher, but always found that following the rules helped me succeed. It took me a while to figure out these rules, but they all seemed to boil down to one idea: keep everybody informed. I could help my students succeed simply by staying in touch with parents, colleagues, and administration.
In regards to my faith, I have been very diligent about keeping the rules. Church every Sunday. Quiet times first thing in the morning. Participation in Bible studies. Volunteering and leading at church. Guarding my heart as a single. The list goes on.
Please don’t get me wrong. I have always done these things because I have truly loved them and have seen the benefit of various disciplines in my life. My heart has always been to follow Jesus and serve Him in every aspect of my being. The difference now, is that having children makes it so much harder for me to be successful in all of these rules.
Children are a blessing from God in many ways. For me, one of the biggest blessings has been how they’ve killed my pride. My rules are falling all apart.
As a mom, I’m learning that being a rule follower is a whole lot easier when life plays by the rules. It’s pretty stinkin’ hard when the rules blow up in your face.
Sometimes, particularly in the first months, quiet times are hard to come by. My ability to volunteer on a whim has greatly diminished because of the need for childcare. It makes me sick to see how angry and flustered I can become over simple little happenings throughout our day. I see more and more how I am failing at my rules.
In essence, motherhood is showing me just how much grace I need. I’ve always loved Jesus, but as my children bring my sinful heart to the forefront, I see how much I truly need Him.
So, how is motherhood changing my relationship with God? It’s making me realize to a greater degree that being good at keeping rules is much more likely to lead to pride than anything else. It’s making me appreciate all the more what Christ sacrificed for me, even though I don’t deserve it. It’s teaching me to cling to Him in all my messy moments.
And He loves me for it.
“When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” (Romans 5:6-8; NLT)