Article  Marriage and Family  Parenting

Making a mess of motherhood

One of my favorite memories from childhood is making sugar cookies with my mom. Naturally, I wanted to continue this tradition with my own family. I vividly remember one of the first years that I attempted to bake with my children. I found my mom’s recipe and prepared the dough. I got out the cookie cutters, rolling pins, and sprinkles. I was ready to create that special mothering moment.

Instead, I made a mess.

At some point in our cookie making, someone did something wrong. While I have long since forgotten the initial incident, my poor reaction is emblazoned in my memory. In frustration I angrily scolded all three of my children. Tears glistened and their eyes widened with surprise at my harsh tone. The special memory I hoped to create shattered into pieces because of my own impatience.

Do similar memories fill you with regret and remorse? Do you wonder what to do when faced with your sin and failure? Thankfully, we have a Savior who rescues us from our sin and sympathizes with us in our weakness. Hebrews 4:14 -16 encourages us:

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are — yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

We can approach the throne of grace with boldness because we have an understanding Savior. As a man, Jesus entered into all the difficulties and brokenness of this world. Even though Jesus never succumbed to sin, he experienced temptation. He does not sit in angry judgment as we approach him for mercy. He welcomes us with loving compassion.

However, in our fearfulness, at times we choose to conceal our sin. We may use circumstances as an excuse for our impatience or blame our harshness on our children’s behavior. When we hide our sin, we miss out on the grace and forgiveness that is ours in Christ. We also miss an opportunity to teach our children an important lesson.

When I impatiently scolded my children while making cookies, I felt such a sense of failure. It was tempting to hide my sin by blaming my outburst on their behavior. By God’s grace, his Word convicted my heart and showed me what to do. I couldn’t erase my sin, but I could confess it to my children. I told my children that mommy was wrong to become impatient and speak in such an angry voice. I asked for their forgiveness, which they promptly and gladly gave. Soon, we were back to making cookies, while I pondered what the Lord was teaching me.

The lesson I learned that day is that I cannot protect my children from my weaknesses. As hard as I may try, at some point my sin will affect their lives. However, the way I deal with my failure can be an example for them to follow.

Each of my children will face the weight and sorrow of their own sin. Just as we teach daily hygiene habits like brushing teeth, our children need instruction on how to find cleansing for their souls. Teaching our children about confession and repentance as well as grace and forgiveness will shape their lives for years to come. As they see us regularly practicing repentance and confession, the hope is that these will become a normal and natural part of their relationships with others.

The good news of the gospel is that Jesus changes us from the inside out. We are no longer slaves to sin, but sin continues to impact our lives and the lives of our children. Thankfully, God can even use our weaknesses as an opportunity to teach our children.  As we mourn the messes we make in motherhood, we can also rejoice in the promise, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). The example of confession and repentance that we set before our children provides a pathway for healthy relationships for them in the future.

Excerpted from Walking with God in the Season of Motherhood by Melissa B. Kruger Copyright © 2015 by Melissa B. Kruger. Excerpted by permission of WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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