Missing Shoe Tears

Last Friday I mentioned I wanted to spend some beach time with the moms of young children who visit this blog. While fall in Florida is a great time to hang out at the beach, it looks like we’ll have to settle for connecting here….

As a pastor’s wife whose husband has always needed to leave early, Sunday mornings became more challenging as each of our little ones came along. Over the years Benny and I learned to spend 30 minutes on a couple of Saturday-night tasks like tidying the house, getting the kids clothes (and shoes!) out and setting out cereal and bowls. What a difference these little actions made once 7:30 AM the next morning came along!

But one memorable Sunday morning Jesse couldn’t find his left shoe.  In those days we all got “dressed up” and the kids only had one pair of dress shoes. Both shoes were placed bedside the night before — but every mother knows that sometimes kids’ stuff just disappears!

I don’t remember how the shoe issue got resolved but I sure remember the resultant tears. Just as I inserted the key into the ignition, they starting falling. I laid my head on the steering wheel and cried. I had been harsh with the kids and felt like I was in no condition to show up at the meeting with a smile on my face, ready to worship God.

Yes — I became angry and harsh with my kids over a shoe. And that wasn’t the only time something I now see as trivial resulted in me feeling overwhelmed and reacting angrily or selfishly toward my kids.

The thought I want to share with young moms today is this: Your struggles and temptations are common. When you show up at church on Sunday mornings, share a business lunch with co-workers or read facebook updates about gourmet dinners and the list of heroic accomplishments of other moms when it’s 4 PM and you’re still in your pajamas, it can be discouraging. (I’m so glad facebook didn’t exist when I was your age!) We girls are notorious for comparing ourselves to others. These comparisons can either produce self-righteous attitudes of superiority, unknowing jealousy or weighty battles with condemnation because we’re not a “good” mom like so-and-so.

Ladies, I’m not suggesting that you minimize patterns of anger or selfishness in how you treat your children. While children are forgiving, we moms can’t take advantage of their love by continuing to sin against them without crying out to God to change our hearts. But please know this: every mom you know is just like you — gifted, loving and laying down her life for her children every day but also flawed, weak and perhaps hesitant to let others in on her lay-your-head-on-the-steering-wheel-and-cry moments.

Read these encouraging and possibly familiar words from 1 Corinthians 10:13: “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”

Every temptation you face is common. I’m not the only mother who has ended up overwhelmed, harsh and angry over a shoe. The amazing truth is that a faithful, patient God is there for and with you.  He is your way of escape. Run to Him when you are angry, weary, condemned or bitter. You are running to a throne of grace where your sins will be forgiven by a gracious God. If you are Christian, you have been declared not guilty of every past, present and future sin — and God sees you as living the perfect life of obedience purchased by His son.

Wait. I need to read that paragraph again. Ladies, I’m not making this stuff up. These are timeless truths from God’s infallible word!

If understood properly, this glorious truth won’t make you fine with continuing in sin. Rather, it will motivate you to repent and trust Christ to change you.

I am still running to that throne of grace. Late last week — and after 34 years of motherhood — I was struggling with self-pitying, resentful thoughts toward one of my kids. So join me in turning to Christ for the escape from temptation and finding fresh hope in repentance and faith for change.

If some Sunday morning you’re in tears over being harsh or angry toward your kids (even if you have a husband there to help you) remember this: you are no less worthy to worship God on a bad morning than on a good one — when no one lost their shoe and you arrived at church fifteen minutes early. Because of His sinless life and substitutionary death, you have been made worthy by the One who sacrificed all to open that throne of grace to you and every other mom who shows up that morning feeling just as unworthy as you do.

Even on your very worst day ever.

P.S.  Thanks to Jerry Bridges for teaching me what you read in that last paragraph. If you haven’t read The Disciplines of Grace you can order it here. It’s one of the books that truly changed my life!