This article originally appeared at Thrive Moms on April 25, 2017. Christine M. Chappell is a contributing writer for the Thrive Moms blog, the author of “Clean Home, Messy Heart: Promises of Renewal, Hope, and Change for Overwhelmed Moms”, and is currently pursuing her biblical counseling certification.
She stood in the dark doorway sobbing over an Easter basket that never came. Despite the gift-filled baskets from family members and a weekend full of festive activities, the space where the basket from mom & dad ought to have been left a void inside her broken heart.
After consoling my 10-year-old daughter with an embrace and reminder of prior occasions where we had surpassed her expectations, she calmed enough to return to bed, assured of our love, and that next year we’d try to do better. I closed the door, slithered into my bed sheets, and crumbled from a fragile psyche weighed farther down with the crush of “mom-guilt”.
“I’m a horrible mother,” I began to sob to my husband, “I can’t even give my kid an Easter basket.”
In that moment, it wasn’t about the Easter basket—it was about my failures, about their piling up day after day, and my inability to do better and be better. How many times have I let down my daughter, my husband, my family? Countless. How many times have I let myself down, that I wasn’t a more gracious person, more skilled at navigating the challenges of motherhood and marriage? Innumerable. How many times have I hungered and thirsted for righteousness only to trip over my one broken flesh, one broken mind, one broken heart? Untold.
No, I wasn’t crying because I didn’t have the bandwidth for curating an Easter basket—I was crying because I didn’t have the capacity to live up to anyone’s expectations…especially my own.
When Grace Has Gone
It’s no wonder the Lord led me to the book of Galatians to uncover the heart of my problem. The epistle is written to Christians who have come under the influence of false teaching and the lie that circumcision was a requirement for saving faith in Christ. Paul spends most of his time reminding believers in Galatia that “by works of the law no one will be justified” (2:16) and that their ongoing Christian maturity is not an accomplishment of flesh, but of the Spirit (3:3). He rebuked the Galatians for turning back to “weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more,” (4:9) then targets their hearts with a piercing question: “What then has become of the blessing you felt?” (4:15)
What then, imperfect mama crying over her incessant failures, has become of your joy? What has your lackluster law-keeping given you?