Why I Need Grace

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Written by Kate Tietje, Contributing Writer

Last month, I wrote about dealing with challenging behavior.  I wrote out my absolute best intentions in that post — how everything would be in a perfect world.  I’d be happy and patient and I’d mete out discipline lovingly, and there would never be any yelling or crying in my home.  I’d have an endless ability to deal with whatever my children threw at me, and I’d never let their antics destroy my positive attitude.

If you’ve been a mother for more than five minutes, you might be laughing right now, because you know that’s impossible.  Only Jesus was perfect.  The rest of us?  Well, we fail daily.  I fail daily.

And that’s okay.

Motherhood Isn’t Perfection

I almost feel bad, writing all of these lofty thoughts here, about how I’m striving for joy and to have a positive attitude and to be a patient mother.  I’m afraid I’m one of the most impatient people out there, really, and that I don’t manage to keep my perfect attitude all the time.

I intend to do well. Really.  But sometimes those intentions turn into looking back at the thing I shouldn’t have done or said, and reflecting on what I should have done or said instead.  Oops.

I tell myself as the noise level rises — with all the children crying, screaming at each other, smacking each other — that I will not let this get to me.  I will rise above it.  I will separate them calmly and I will distract them, I will talk to them and listen to them and meet their needs, and everything will be okay.  Sometimes that’s what happens.  Sometimes one of them turns on my newborn and hurts him, and I lose it.  I can’t stand to see the defenseless one hurt, and if my stress level’s already high?  I break down.

Then, for a few moments, I feel like the worst mother in the world, because, really, what am I doing?  Here I am, preaching about patience and having a positive attitude and loving our children no matter what, and I just screamed at one of mine?  Not to mention how the child now feels.  I’ve had one of them sob, “But I love you…” when I was short and snippy and in a bad mood.

I fail.  Everyday. I have good intentions and I strive to meet them, but I still fail.

I Need Grace

The Lord’s grace is sometimes the only reason I feel that things are going to be okay.  Sure — most days aren’t that bad.  Most days are pretty neutral, with a few negative (but not terrible) moments, and mostly good moments.  We’re okay.  But we have those bad days, too, where all I can do is pray for grace.

What a wonderful gift that it is, too!  It’s the main reason that my children are getting to know the Lord, even though I’m still struggling to find my way as a Christian mother.  It’s the main reason they love me even when I am not especially pleasant to be around

I was trying to explain the concept of the Lord’s sacrifice and resulting grace/forgiveness to my children a few weeks ago. It was a Friday night and we’d been listening to praise and worship songs while we worked in the kitchen for awhile.  I decided to try to explain Jesus’ death and resurrection, since one of the songs was about it.  It’s something I’ve heard about all my life and I often think, Yes, sure, it’s so awesome… But I don’t feel anything.  It’s something I’ve always known.

But when I tried to explain it, I found I could barely even talk.  I wanted to cry. It was that amazing.

Not that my kids really get it yet…. :)  They are 2 and 3.5, so they’re quite young.  My 2-year-old now walks around saying “Jesus killed.  Jesus back.  YAY!  Pay sins.”

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Imperfection is Good

The other day, my 2-year-old walked up to me and smacked me in the face.  I pushed him away and said, “You get down right now.  You can’t sit with me if you are going to hit me like that.”

My 3-year-old matter-of-factly said to me, “Mommy, it’s not nice of you to treat him like that.”

She was right.

It wasn’t that it was wrong to tell him he shouldn’t hit me.  He needed to know that part.  But he didn’t need me to compound it by pushing him away, yelling at him.  So I replied, “You’re right, it’s not.  Mommy shouldn’t do that, and I’m sorry.”

They need to see that we are weak, and that we need forgiven, too.

When we make mistakes as mothers, we need to humble ourselves and admit it to our children and ask for their forgiveness. I struggle with this.  I don’t want to be humble.  I don’t want to be wrong.  I want to say whatever I do is justified because “I’m the mommy.”  But that isn’t true.  If I can learn to be humble and ask them to forgive me, then they will grow to do the same thing.  They’ll know it’s okay to make mistakes, and better to ask for forgiveness.  And they’ll know they are loved even when they make those mistakes.

I think, when we are raising children who are also imperfect people, that this lesson is even more important than trying to be perfect all the time in the first place.  We’re not.  What does it teach our children if we pretend that we are?  I think it makes them see us as hard, unfair, proud.  It also could make them feel like they are the only ones who fail.  Whatever happens, it’s not good for their relationship with us or the Lord.

I’ll be imperfect, I’ll thank the Lord for His grace, and I’ll strive to do better everyday. That’s all I can do.

If you need a reminder, please join our link-up this month, Positive Attitudes and Living for Joy, each Friday!

Do you ever feel hit by how much you need the Lord’s grace?  Have you ever had a child say something that made you feel especially humble?

About Kate Tietje

Kate is a work-at-home mom to (almost) 4 kids -- Bekah, age 4.5; Daniel, age 3; Jacob, 1; and baby #4, due mid-March 2013. She is married to Ben, a wonderfully supportive husband! She blogs at Modern Alternative Mama, where she writes about natural health, real food, parenting, and all things “green.” She also recently launched Modern Alternative Kitchen, a site about traditional cooking, and is about to launch Modern Alternative Pregnancy. In her “free” time, she enjoys sewing, crafting, cooking, and playing with her children. Follow her on Facebook!

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Comments

  1. Wonderful to see…and a great reminder. I love that your two year old says “Jesus Killed. Jesus Back….” that is so cute. I think I may not give my 2 year old enough credit….she get’s more than I think! Thanks so much for being so honest!

  2. This is a daily thing for me, to decide to handle problems in the flesh (in the moment) or wait a moment to handle situations with good Godly intentions, with my children and at times my husband. Thanks for the reminder of His Grace today!

  3. I’m sure none of us are perfect. That’s why repentance is so important. Thank goodness for our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.
    Sandy

  4. Thanks for being transparent! I think we all need to humbled ourselves and give each other grace!

  5. I love your openness, Kate. This post is a great reminder that no one is perfect. I tend to look at other moms and imagine that they have it all together, while I feel like I fail over and over. Most of us have great intentions, but we do fail, and we do need grace. I am so thankful for the Lord’s forgiveness and for His example in how we are to relate to those around us. My children like to “remind” me too sometimes when I don’t follow what I teach. I appreciate that they are listening and paying attention and it usually jerks me back to reality and gives me the opportunity to seek forgiveness.

  6. We seem to go through long stretches of road of either really good behavior or ‘needs improvement’ behavior. I need abundant grace for the later! Thank you for reminding me that I’m not alone and we all need to look to God for His provision in patience & grace.

  7. I guess I was raised really differently from you all, but this post seems like common sense to me. You mess up; you apologize. We all, children and adults, mess up. Kids mess up more than adults; tbey’re kids! Forgive, forget, move on. I thought the vast majority of adults knew this. Apparently it is a revelation to the author and people who commented here.

  8. I wanted to post something sarcastic here in an attempt to be funny…but that’s probably the natural tendency of many parents when faced with the uncomfortable reality. I think it may be what leads us to respond out of pressure/anxiety in public….instead of love. The desire to make things appear like we have it (them) under control. Thanks for the reminder to give ourselves grace…

  9. This is the best thing I have read in a long time. Thank you

  10. Great post. So true about needing His grace every day. I think our children learn so much from seeing us ask for forgiveness. One of the most effective things that we have done lately is when we’re all having a hard day is to stop everything and pray together that God would help them to behave the way that He wants them too and to help me be the Mommy that He wants me to be. We talk a LOT about the forgiveness we have through Jesus Christ. These moments make a big impact on my toddler. She will often refer back to them, “remember when we prayed together in the van the other day.” I think God has had to break me of the whole idea that everything my kids do is a direct reflection on me when we’re around others. It’s NOT about what people think of me. It’s ALL about my kids seeing the love of Christ through me as I raise them and hoping that otheres see that as well. I’m so thankful for all that God is teaching me through raising these little ones. When I try to explain it to my friends that don’t have children I just get met w/ nods and blank stares. :) We serve an *awesome* God!

  11. I agree, it’s so important for parents to humble themselves. One of the most striking memories from my childhood are the times my dad asked me for forgiveness. I don’t remember anymore what he did wrong. But I remember his humility, asking his children’s forgiveness!

  12. P.S. Just wanted to share this story, maybe it will encourage someone…….I clearly remember the first time I ever apologized to my children. I had just started to walk with the Lord and I had been very mean to my 6 yr old…(she is 13 now) God dealt with me so strongly to say sorry to her. I struggled because in my mind it made me look weak, like I would lose respect from her…..I was raised this way. My dad never said sorry! But I could not escape God’s dealng and I felt so bad! So I apologized and you know she just climbed up on my lap and said “thats ok mommy” I remember just holding her crying……she got down and went on with her day, forgetting that I was mean, but not that I loved her! I have had to say “I’m sorry” more times than i would like to admit, but it has not caused a lack in respect, but it has increased the respect and love! God’s ways work!

  13. I fail daily…and how! But the best example of God’s grace? My kiddos love God! My oldest accepted Christ last year and my second-born just this week told me, “I want to be a Christian so I can go tell other people about Jesus.” Wow! That is definitely Christ at work in spite of my failures! Thank God for grace!

  14. I was nodding and crying as I read through this…..thank you for the reminder! I am so grateful for HIS grace today! For mercies being renewed every morning! I had moment yesterday and I felt like such a bad mother/person. I lost all control and than I was too angry to apologize……in those moments its hard to go to God. Its hard to believe he still loves and still offers grace……and yet he does. How can I not ask for forgiveness from the one I offended? How can I not run to the mercy seat!? Its humbling, but that is just what I need, to be reminded that its never in MY goodness, but its in HIS grace, HIS mercies, HIS shed blood! Again thank you for sharing this today…..once again I am humbled and this makes me GRATEFUL!

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  1. [...] been thinking all day about writing on this when I came across Keeper of the Home’s post on Why I Need Grace. I fail.  Everyday. I have good intentions and I strive to meet them, but I still [...]