I used to go to my room to cry.
I would hold it together until I fixed a snack for one child, pulled down a toy for another, and assigned math pages to two more. Finally, with trembling lip, I’d hustle down the hallway to the privacy of my bedroom.
There, my God and my pillow absorbed the tears. Because someone called with bad news. Or I didn’t get my way in marriage. Because it was the wrong time of the month. Or mothering and homeschooling four kids was just plain lonely and hard.
In those moments, God ministered to my tired mom-heart. Then, after a few beats of worship in the company of an oak four-poster and a highboy, I’d open my door with a new grip.
My kids had no idea. To them, their mom was a machine: token in – food out, lever down – laundry done, button pushed – consequence dispensed. Grit grinding gears. Pride powering pistons. Control cranking the cogs.
Sure, the machine would break down occasionally. She would blow a gasket or her engine would burn out. But just like machines do, she would disappear to “get fixed”, then slip right back into the assembly line, as if nothing ever happened.
Christian mothers are good at keeping doors closed. We preach of a Jesus who saves lost souls and carries sinners across the sand. We teach our kids hymns and prayers and how to forgive, but we never show them why we need those things so much.
I thought I was protecting them. I thought that by hiding away the ugly, I was creating for them a beautiful childhood. But instead, I was shutting them out from a beautiful Jesus.
What if I invited them in? What if…
Hey guys, I’m feeling sad today. I really need to hear God’s word. Can we stop and read some Psalms together? Or…
I’m teary today because I’m really tired. Do you ever cry when you’re tired? Let’s pray right now that God will give us just what we need. Or..
I messed up and I’m feeling like God’s love is far away. Can we listen to some hymns so I can hear some truth? And… will you all pray for me today?
Oh, how wish I could see the road ahead as well as I can out my rear-view mirror…
Parenting asks us to be disciplined. It would be unfair to burden our children with the details of our emotional baggage or adult-sized worries, but we are called to teach them a big lesson.
“You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Deuteronomy 11:19
We’ve more than mastered the talking part.
But the God of excellence knows that kids learn best by watching, practicing, and doing.
So, in addition to the talking, God calls us to walk with our children along the way. The way to the grocery, church, and soccer practice? Yes. But mostly along the rough paths leading to repentance and rest.
I needed to learn that my goal isn’t to raise up happy, carefree children. It’s to hold up a Savior who’s worthy of their trust- especially on the crying days.
The machine taught my kids that Christians work hard and have self-control. She also gave them security, love, and plenty of fun. But she may have also taught them that struggles are for kids.
Only a real mom with a real testimony can show her kids how to stumble into the arms of Jesus. Only an honest, humble mom can reveal God’s strength through heartbreak, doubt, and tearful worship.
Pride powered the machine, but grace fuels the mom.
Many of today’s tears come from regret and missed opportunities, but with my kids as my witness, I’m wiping them away with the gospel. Today, His spirit leads our daily walk, and my flesh is starting to peek through a rusted-out frame.
To the God of repentant mothers be the glory…
… and may our kids know it’s never too late to open the door.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.” Matthew 5:14-15