When my son was only a few weeks old, I remember battling in my foggy postpartum mom mind (and also out loud with my husband) about whether or not it was a good thing for him to go to bed with the pacifier. What if he became too dependent on it? What if he never learned to self-soothe? The fears tormented me and overwhelmed my thoughts. I laugh at this silly overanalyzing now, but at the time, I desperately wanted to make the right decision. Everything I did as a new mom depended upon what I thought was “the right thing to do,” regardless of whether or not it was a decision rooted in peace and obedience to Christ.
As a mom, I desperately want my children to enjoy a peace-filled life, devoid of any pain or discomfort. There is a reason why people say that having children is like having your heart walk around outside of your body. Becoming a mom brings out a fierce sense of protection for the children that God has entrusted to you. That desire to protect causes a storm of emotions that can eclipse logical thinking and even cause submission to the Holy Spirit to take a backseat to the wisdom that opinionated people are spouting on the internet.
Understanding My Limits as a Mom
Each stage of parenting brings with it an opportunity to trust God in a new way. As a mom of a newborn, your thoughts center around feeding schedules. When your baby transitions to toddlerhood, you wonder how you will potty train or choose the right preschool. By the time your child is school age, decisions surrounding school choice, extracurricular activities, and friend groups begin to surface.
These stages are each overwhelming in their own right, but we serve the Prince of Peace. When not fully submitted to Christ, our hearts are deceitful and can often lead us astray (Jer. 17:9). But God’s truth never changes and never leads us astray. We need to submit to the Holy Spirit and be led by God so we can lead our children well.
Unfortunately, the savior mentality is rampant and even celebrated in mommy culture. Women are heralded for doing everything within their power to create a picture-perfect life for their children. Whether through the healthiest meals and snacks or a curated schedule of activities, the illusion of control lurks around every corner. But as I consider my children, two of whom came to me through foster care, I am painfully aware of the fact that I cannot save them nor control them. My children are not robots that I can program to be perfect little disciples. They are individuals created in the image of God with eternal souls (Gen. 1:27).
Pointing Them to the Limitless Savior
When Jesus came to this earth, he left the throne of grace to enter into our human experience. He walked on this earth for 33 years, and he knew hunger, longing, and the whole host of human emotions. His Heavenly Father saw fit to send him to Earth so that we could know him as Immanuel, God with us. The God of the universe entered into a limited existence, even though he is limitless.
As mothers, we are not our children’s savior. We are limited. There is no way that we could meet their every need. Yet we desire to take the place of our sinless Savior to be the heroines of their stories. However, it is never our role to be the heroine, but rather to point them to the hero—their limitless Heavenly Father who is able to provide abundantly more than all that we ask or imagine (Eph. 3:20–21).
I wake up every morning with a choice before me: Will I choose to try to control the day, or will I submit to my sinless Savior and ask him to lead me? The moments I find myself trying to control everything are never God-honoring but rather foolish attempts at exalting myself and my plans.
The other night, I actually heard myself say aloud to my oldest daughter and my husband, “If everyone would just listen to me and follow my plans, then their lives would be a lot easier. I’m smart and I have a lot of good ideas. I know how to get things done.” It pains me to think about this prideful declaration now, but it revealed what was in my heart at the moment (Luke 6:45). I decided that making my plans known was more important than pointing to our sovereign Lord.
Submission to My Savior
Motherhood is not a competition between ourselves and those around us to see whose kids are the cutest or well-behaved. It is not about having picture-perfect birthday parties and activities. It isn’t even about whether our kids are saved or not. It is about walking in submission to our Savior. Because motherhood, like everything else in the life of a believer, is an act of worship.
We cannot allow our preconceived notions or social media-influenced thoughts of motherhood to dictate our actions. As followers of Christ, we must root our actions in the unchanging nature of our Heavenly Father, the perfect parent. When we truly know Jesus and walk with him, it changes everything about our lives. No longer are we pushing our own agendas or serving our own desires in our homes. Instead, we search for opportunities to die to ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Christ by his grace.
When your flesh tempts you to hold tight to the reigns of control, remind your heart that Christ holds all things together—including your children (Col. 1:17). You can entrust them to him and rest assured that he will take care of them, just as he cares for you.