What if all the mothers in all the world were able to silence the thought that other mothers in other houses are doing it all better?
What joy would explode if we could all silence that little voice in the back of our heads that tells us that we work too much to be a real good mom like the other moms? Or that we work too little to provide all the important childhood experiences other moms can?
What wholeness could we knead into the hearts and minds of these tender, open souls in our care if we believed once and for all that we already are the mothers our children need, full stop?
If we have an enemy, and I am convinced I do, I can't think of a better scheme than to convince a mother that she doesn't have what it takes to grow good fruit and then convince her it's her job to conjure the sunshine, too.
The best lie might be when that enemy whispers that if she would just complete checklist items 17-23 before bedtime, THEN maybe everything will all finally be right, like it is in that other mother's house. So the mother will spend her day pulling weeds until her back breaks and by the time she she looks up the sun has set on another day that she didn't actually live in with her children.
Now that my firstborn is about to be a teenager and my fourth baby is barely a baby at all, I am learning what it means to lean hard into the question: What is best? Because with four children and a full time job that really matters too, my life is full of constant decisions that require me to prioritize and compromise. I can't always do everything well, but I am learning that a lot of the time it matters more HOW I do than WHAT I do. Just about three and a half hours ago, I rolled up to my kids' school about six minutes late. I forgot to pick them up. It's not a normal part of my routine and I just blanked and came home and started a roast in the instant pot, feeling very ahead of the curve. When I realized what I had done, I immediately panicked, cussed quite creatively, and ran to the car. I took some deep breaths while I drove the familiar mile to the school. I threw the van in park and went in to collect my vagrant children - and another child who I had forgotten was carpooling to dance today. I felt the eyes of the women in the office as I threw open the door and greeted my waiting crew. I know that I am growing because I wasn't hiding tears of shame this time. I wasn't angry or frustrated with my kids on the way home and I know for a fact that was my go-to response to my own self perceived failure last year.
I know that I am not the gardener after all because there is new life growing in my heart and I didn't sow any seed at all. Barely watered myself this decade, honestly. Forgot about myself like an old cactus, actually. But still I grow.
And you are growing, too.
A prayer for all of us from Ephesians:
I pray , according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.