I don’t know what it is, maybe it’s that cool of the morning that comes with the beginning of fall, maybe it’s my middle turning five years old, or maybe it’s the reality of knowing how quickly this life passes, that has me contemplating once again my mothering.
It’s so easy, isn’t it, to try to “judge” ourselves. To ask, “How am I doing?” “Am I treasuring all the moments?” “Am I a good mom?”
I think these questions are good and definitely have a place, but I have also recognized the danger of evaluating myself too much. Because when I do, I feel dreadfully sad.
Surely there were moments I missed, surely there were times I failed, and even when I did it all just right, it’s still going by oh so fast.
I want to figure this out. How do I treasure yesterday, enjoy today, and smile at tomorrow?
I don’t know if I ever will, but I do know this ~ The best way for me to do a better job at anything is not to look too long at myself. Because I will either think too highly of myself or I will plummet by the sheer reality of my own inadequacies.
The apostle Paul, a man of great godliness and boldness evaluated himself like this in 1 Corinthians 4:3-4~
But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me.
In our society today, we are often told:
Believe in yourself.
It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks, just what you think of yourself.
Encouragement is important and I do think our inner thoughts are so vital. But Paul just says something so radically different here. And it has helped me immensely as a mom.
Paul essentialy says, that at the end of the day,
It doesn’t matter what you think of me. And
It doesn’t matter what I think of myself.
Paul knows that his own opinion of himself can be flawed. He could be thinking he’s doing it all right, but his heart is in the wrong place. Or he could be thinking that he’s failing, but God sees something different (1 Sam 16:7).
Paul doesn’t look for his stamp of approval from another person or even from himself. He doesn’t value his own opinion. The only opinion of himself that truly matters is God’s.
This is such a transformational truth and one that I want to grab onto with all my heart.
There are so many standards set for us as women and as mothers. We can barely meet our own high standards, much less someone else’s. I’m not saying don’t set them, do! But the moment I think that meeting a standard makes me a good mom, I’ve made motherhood all about me. I’ve declared that my identity is wrapped up in my achievements. And I’ve created a giant obstacle that has my name written all over it.
For in that moment I try to be some perfect mom, I miss out.
I’m not thinking about my kids. I’m not enjoying just knowing them. I’m worried about that thing I didn’t do.
Instead of staying up late to snuggle for a few minutes, I’m worried about that book that says not to do that.
Instead of sending that little cookie in her lunchbox, I’m wondering if another mom will judge me if I do.
Instead of being confident about what I’ve decided to do, I’m second guessing my every move.
Instead of looking up, I’m desperately looking within, and missing what’s right in front of me.
Instead of soaking up all the goodness of everyday moments, I’m letting myself get in the way.
I’m missing the way the breeze is blowing her hair just that way. I’m not thanking God for grubby fingers to scrub. I’m not laying on the floor reading two more chapters of Nancy Drew. I’m not skipping down the sidewalk. I’m not kissing my husband when he walks in the door and treasuring how he spins my little ones in the air in his daddy way. I’m not thanking God that he’s even there to do it.
If I spend my days putting checks in my own boxes, I will miss just knowing my children. I will miss right now.
And if I strive in motherhood for that moment when I feel like I’m a “good” mom, I will never reach it.
I must believe this. I am not in the courtroom. My mothering is not on trial. Yes, I want to recognize failings, not brush over them, but learn.
But I want to remember, as a mom who has been redeemed by Christ, Jesus went on trial for me. He is my substitute for my ugly failings and He loves me unconditionally.
My identity isn’t wrapped up in being the best mom, whatever that is. It’s not wrapped up in how I lived yesterday or in what I think of myself today.
My identity isn’t even found in motherhood at all. It was declared in a heavenly courtroom by a God who says, “You are my beloved child, in whom I am well pleased.”
I want to value how God has uniquely gifted me and my friends as mothers, and then I want to forget myself, and run to Him. The One who gave me yesterday, holds my tomorrow, and wants me to find joy today.
. Tim Keller’s The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness was extremely helpful to me in unpacking 1 Corinthians 4