My first jolt back to that reality was seeing my postpartum pictures. Cute kid, but who is that awful looking lady holding him?! Ack! THAT IS ME?! Yuck.
But there were more substantial reminders that while managing three kids had become a piece of cake for this Mama, God is NOT done with me yet! Sanctification continues.
I found the most humbling moments in these two experiences:
The other day one of my daughters had been especially exasperating in a new set of behavioral difficulties. I was frustrated, and at the end of my rope. Having a new baby is an adjustment for everyone, but adjustment or no, there was no excuse for her behavior! I was having a hard time reining her in. So I asked for advice from Moms I knew, My Mom, etc, and even some Mommybloggers. (Shout out to 4 Moms, 35+ Kids!) I still made no progress in helping her to curb her disrespectful behavior. I was getting rolling eyes, talking back, and exasperated rude responses. Then one day, this very child walks in while I was putting 2 of her younger siblings to sleep. She wanted to show me something she made. My immediate response was to roll my eyes and respond with “Well what is it? I’m putting your sister and brother down for a nap!”
It was me. How could I expect her to stop a behavior that I wasn’t even recognizing, let alone dealing with in myself? What a humbling moment. I felt awful instantly. I apologized to her and told her to please come back later. It wasn’t a while until I was able to confess my full sins to her. It takes a lot to tell your child you’ve been wrong. I started half a dozen times only to put it off. Another sin of mine, pride, was staring me right in the face. Motherhood is truly humbling.
Then, yesterday, my husband called me on his lunch break, telling me “I forgot to pay some bills! And I never deposited that check… Could you handle it for me?” I was excited to show my husband I was getting back in my super prepped Mommy groove, and I could handle an emergency. Of COURSE I could handle it! “It” required a trip to the bank, and a trip to another bank to pay both bills. No problem, this was a piece of cake with 3 kids! Should be nothing with 4!
Wrong. Oh so wrong.
Instead: I grabbed some PB and J and…. uhm, what else is there? Carrots. Ok… whipped everyone into (semi decent) shape, and headed off into the sunset, wipes on hand for the inevitable peanut butter faces. We started the whole adventure off with an incident in the parking lot. Someone made a break for a puddle in a high traffic area, and I began the whole outing with a screech: “DON’T run there!”
There ended up being no cars in the parking lot, and the child in question responded instantly, and went back to her “spot”, never having been in any real danger, and so all was fine, but I think this was the first indicator I was in over my head. Before I had to juggle a toddler and an infant in exiting the car, she never would have even dreamed of making a move for that puddle.
Inside both banks the children ran around in circles or bounced nervously on the chairs while I signed papers. During the rest of our errands there was a lot of angst in the back seat, with everyone hitting the naptime wall, including me. We went home, nobody the worse for wear, but my pride having taken a few fatal blows, the whole drive home was dominated by Isaiah’s expressions of discomfort and disapproval after our long afternoon in the minivan hopping from place to place.
I had been at that place most of us go to when we’ve been “successful” in our christian walk. We begin to (erroneously) assume our hard work is paying off. But we forget
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
(Galatians 2:20, ESV)
We begin to trust in the law alone, and forget the all important work of the Holy Spirit in our heart, our home. Without God’s all consuming work in us, the law does nothing. As I’ve heard said before (I think Rushdoony said it) ” The law does not justify, it sanctifies.” I had forgotten that truth, and began to feel as if I had conquered my sinful nature, and was fully capable of addressing my children’s shortcomings as well. But I’m not sufficient on my own. If anything, my knowledge of the law should inform me of how very deficient I am, and how much I need God’s righteousness. (Romans 7:7)
And so armed with this new dose of humility, I am reminded of many things. Firstly, without God’s Word, change is impossible, and without the Holy Spirit, lasting, sincere change is a lost cause. Time to get back to the Word of God with a humbled spirit.
to understand words of insight,
to receive instruction in wise dealing,
in righteousness, justice, and equity;
to give prudence to the simple,
knowledge and discretion to the youth—
Let the wise hear and increase in learning,
and the one who understands obtain guidance,
to understand a proverb and a saying,
the words of the wise and their riddles.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and instruction.
(Proverbs 1:2-7, ESV)
I can’t make my children wise on my own, I can’t make my children well behaved on my own, and I can’t cause them to be their best, but I can introduce them to the God who sanctifies me daily, changes me as only he can, and provides me with the wisdom to meet many things head on. I can’t claim any of that goodness for myself, but I can lead them straight to the wisdom from God’s Word that does not return void. I can obey God’s command (Duet. 6) and teach them daily as I walk with Christ. And I can trust in his ability to bring lasting change to their hearts, minds, and lives. In the end, my failure riddled parenting isn’t enough for them, but the sufficiency of scripture in informing their wisdom and decisions, and the work of the Holy Spirit in their hearts and lives is something I can trust in to overcome my own sins and shortcomings.