We were slogging through Missouri the other day in a snow storm, and spent about an hour and a half in a convenience store trying to figure out the wisest approach to the rest of our trip home.
If only, I thought to myself, if ONLY I were the kind of mom who could gather her wits about her at a time like this and turn it into a hilarious adventure. If only I could quick think up a scavenger hunt for my kids, or a silly song and dance to make this a bonding moment we would never forget.
But alas, I am the freeze up because you are a little panicked and you don't know what to do kind of mom. The kind of mom who will be thankful if she can just find the sense to make some good food purchasing choices to stock the emergency supply. The kind who tries so hard to be nice at times like this, but snaps a little when a jacket is cast aside on a gross floor. The kind who knows God is there and hears her weak and silent "Help!" and that he can very well take it from there, even, miraculously, with a complete lack of more specific instructions from her. The kind of mom who thinks fewer words exchanged between husband and wife would probably be better under circumstances such as these. The kind who, only in retrospect, thinks more might have been helpful. If they could have been carefully chosen.
I am not The Very Best Mom.
Before I was a mom (and a wife), I was many things, and good at them. Maybe not the best, but good enough to be noticed and recognized. A casual observer might have thought I was good at "everything", because anything I didn't excel at, I QUIT! Who's got time for that?
Parenting is the first thing ever that I couldn't quit when I found out I wasn't nearly as good as I hoped I would be. If there ever was ANYTHING I hoped to be the best at, it would have been parenting.
I will spare you all of the evidence that I am not The Very Best Mom. It would take up volumes. You might see a glimpse of yourself on there and feel bad--or glad--when neither of those would be a helpful response. The details of my shortcomings are not the point. But the FACT that my shortcomings are not the point, THAT is a ticket to freedom.
God, in his mercy, did not make me The Very Best Mom.
He could. He STILL could. He is growing me, after all. But God is way too kind to feed my ego, my PRIDE. Because even more than wanting me to be good, he wants me to be free of that.
After we made the decision to get back on the road the other day, we were reading in the car. I have often heard people mention the impact of C.S. Lewis's Mere Christianity, so we read it on our trip. (Mind you, my kids were playing on their iPods, but they piped up every once in awhile about the book.)
Here is how Lewis spoke to my plight:
"Pride can often be used to beat down the simpler vices. Teachers, in fact, often appeal to a boy's Pride, or, as they call it, his self-respect, to make him behave decently: many a man has overcome cowardice or lust or ill-temper, by learning to think that they are beneath his dignity--that is, by Pride. The devil laughs. He is perfectly content to see you becoming chaste and brave and self-controlled provided, all the time, he is setting up in you the Dictatorship of Pride."
"We must not think Pride is something God forbids because He is offended at it, or that Humility is something He demands as due to His own dignity--as if God Himself was proud. He is not in the least worried about His dignity. The point is, He wants you to know Him: wants to give you Himself. And He and you are two things of such a kind that if you really get into any kind of touch with Him you will, in fact, be humble--delightedly humble, feeling the infinite relief of having for once got rid of all the silly nonsense about your own dignity which has made you restless and unhappy all your life."
And so, all of my best efforts have failed to make me the mom I might have wanted to be. But instead, Grace is at work. "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control." (Galatians 5:22-23) It is the fruit of the Spirit. Not a to do list. He is at work, and thankfully, it does show in me as I choose to work with him and not in opposition to him.
Best of all? This God of grace holds my family in his hands. He is not depriving them of something they need because I am not The Very Best Mom. He knows what they need, what I need, and he put us together.
He IS the Very Best.