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“You’ve got this, mama!” “You’re a great mom!”
These cheerleader phrases make me feel good about myself, until the days when nothing is under control and I treat my children unkindly.
I don’t say this to gain sympathy. The fact is that some days that I act like a bad mom.
And I’m sure I’m not alone.
Have you ever found yourself:
- Yelling at your kids for a behavior that is more irritating than defiant?
- Focusing more on your to-do list than opportunities to share the Gospel with your children?
- Talking about your children in a way that portrays them to be an inconvenience instead of a blessing?
Why Shouldn’t Someone Call Me a Great Mom?
Sin used to be our only thought and action (Ephesians 2:1-3), but now, as believers, we are called to live differently – to live according to our new nature and in obedience to God.
If we are a new creation in Christ, why is it not encouraging then to hear a friend declare yourself a great mom?
Bad Mom Guilt
“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”
– Romans 7:15 ESV
Constantly hearing that we are a great mom only sets us up for guilt when we do not live up to the unrealistic expectations we associate with what it means to be a good mom.
Not only that, telling someone they are a great mom in response to sinfulness is unhelpful at best and, at worst, a lie that drives them from the Gospel.
Well, Now I Really Feel Like a Bad Mom
Although we shouldn’t declare ourselves or a friend good when we are acting like a bad mom, I know the internal struggle we moms face as we battle guilt, shame, fear, and anxiety over whether we are doing enough in this role.
Even if we don’t always act like it, we know that each ordinary moment has eternal implications. We want to raise our children to know and follow Christ.
We also feel the weight of the outside world. Pinterest and Instagram demand we keep immaculate, beautifully decorated home, while at the same time baking bread each day, raising well-behaved children who can quote 87 chapters of the Bible by age 2, and running a successful at-home business.
Is it even possible to be a good mom?
From Platitudes to Gospel Hope
Instead of sharing wimpy, cliche phrases like “You’re such a great mom!” let’s encourage each other to be faithful in ordinary tasks, confess our sins, and look to Christ always.
Let us change our expectations of what it means to be a good mom and battle unnecessary expectations by focusing on faithfulness in the mundane, ordinary moments
“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
– 2 Peter 1:3-8 ESV
No trophy is given to the busy mom who manages to read her Bible each day. Daily prayers with your children for their salvation don’t result in accolades. No one may ever know how many times you have confessed your sins to God or whispered a prayer of praise today.
But, God uses these daily disciplines to make us more like Him, to grow us in godliness, affection toward believers, and love. Consistent growth keeps us from being “ineffective or unfruitful.” This is how we are able to grow toward everything we think, say, and do being for God’s glory.
A good mom is one who shows this pattern of steadfast, disciplined faith. A good mom is striving for godliness in the midst of life’s mundane moments. And, when she fails, a good mom returns to the Gospel, confessing her sins and running to Christ’s arms.
Instead of offering wimpy, cheerleader phrases, encourage and notice other moms who are being faithful in the ordinary moments. Praise God for their work in the mundane.
“I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ.”
– Philemon 4-6 ESV
If you’re struggling to find rest in the midst of busy, daily life – be sure to read Tired of Being Needed? Mama, Find Your Rest in Christ
Acknowledge Your Sins
When we are being a bad mom, when we do mess up, we must acknowledge those mistakes for the sins they are – confessing to God and asking forgiveness from our children.
With grace, love, and humility, hold your sisters in Christ accountable as well. Instead of providing excuses for her sin encourage her to see the heart of her behavior. Instead of telling her a lie to make her feel better about herself, help bear her burdens, and lead her to the cross.
“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
– Galatians 6:1-2 ESV
Look to the One who Saves
By positioning someone as a perfect, superhero mom or even a mom who is good because “at least you try really hard,” we take away the focus from our Savior.
We can only be declared good or righteous through the work of Jesus Christ, not by trying hard to be a good mom.
When we hear declarations of our perfection, that we are enough, we may be lead to believe or act like we don’t need a Savior.
Mama, you aren’t enough. Only Christ is.
Instead of Calling Me a Great Mom…
Let’s strive to build each other up in the faith in ways that encourage faithfulness in the mundane, confession of sin, and recognizing our need for Christ. Let’s move beyond the surface level phrases, and instead, exhort and encourage our sisters in Christ so they can better live for God’s glory.
Who can you give specific encouragement to today?
Resources for the Gospel and Motherhood
(A)Typical Woman: Free, Whole, and Called in Christ by Abigail Dodds
UnsuperMommy: Release Expectations, Embrace Imperfection, and Connect to God’s Superpower by Maggie Combs
2 thoughts on “Don’t Call Me a Great Mom (When I’m Not Acting Like One)”
So very good! Thank you for pointing us all to the hope and sufficiency of the gospel, and our need to be constantly running to the foot of the cross instead of building ourselves up with empty praises. Christ is indeed sufficient, steadfast, and faithful. He is all we need! So appreciate your writing!
I really needed this today. Thank you so much for the reminder that we all fail, nobody is perfect, and we just need to ask for forgiveness from God (and our children). I’m so glad that I stumbled across your blog on Pinterest.