Updated on July 27, 2016
For the not-good-enough parents like me
As I’ve been thinking about goodness this week and what I wanted to write in this space, I keep coming back to my frequent feelings of being a not-good-enough mother. I sense there are many of you who, just like me, fear that all our parenting mistakes have worked against us and our children.
When I adopted my first child over 23 years ago, I was more than ready to be a mom. I was 30 years old. I had longed for and waited for this child. Thirteen months later, when his sister came into our family, I was not prepared for the exhausting challenge of parenting two little humans so close in age. A person who thrives on rest and peace, I was often at my wit’s end, short-tempered and impatient.
The fruit of the Spirit is goodness, Paul writes in Galatians 5. Goodness, for me anyway, seems tied to my very human struggle to be good at something.
Now that my children are fully grown adults of 22 and 23, I have a different perspective on parenting. Had I known the challenges I would face, would I have done this parenting thing at all? Yes, of course yes. But when your little humans grow up to be big humans with minds and hearts and choices of their own, that feeling of I’m-not-good-enough floats back in. Only this time, it says I-wasn’t-good-enough.
So today, I want to encourage moms (and dads too) who feel like some days, some months, some years, our best just isn’t or wasn’t good enough. For those of us who feel that if-we-had-just-done-something-differently–our-kids-would-have-turned-out-better, remember today, that our good and loving God is with you and has always been with you. Every moment of every day, he has been with you.
When the pregnancy test is negative again
When the baby you carried for a few short weeks is lost
When the diagnosis for your sweet child’s health is devastating
He carries you, grieving with you, comforting you with tender kindness.
When the report card reveals a challenge with learning
When the principal calls you to a meeting again
When all the other kids are graduating, and yours didn’t finish in time
When the police knock on the door and deliver your teen to you
He holds your disappointment and embraces you with his love.
When he says, “I’m gay”
When she says, “I’m pregnant”
When he slams the door behind him, shutting you off from his life
When she chooses the drink and the drug over her children
He holds you up when you think you will crumble in a heap. He is your strength.
He is with you. He has always been with you. His goodness, his love, his kindness has always been with you.
Though you may look in the mirror and heap the shame of failure on yourself, he is right there, telling you, You’re good enough for me. You were good enough for them.
Though your body may have failed you, his love never fails.
Though your dreams lay in a heap of ashes, he makes beauty from those ashes.
Though the present looks nothing like you thought it would and the children you raised are distant and cold, he pursues them with his everlasting love.
Goodness is not a reflection of being good at something. Goodness is a reflection of the very Spirit of Christ living in us. It’s an attitude of loving and giving and choosing to do good for others. Parenting is a perfect example of this.
We all hope that our children will reflect the good things we’ve spent years teaching them. For some, the good things are easily seen at a young age. They seem to sail through life, getting good grades, going to college, getting a good job.
But for some of us, it seems that our children have absolutely no reflection of us at all. They stumble and fall. They struggle to find their place in the world. They make destructive choices. And we, sitting on the sidelines watching all of this happen, want to blame ourselves. We just weren’t good enough.
It’s my fault she’s…
If I had only….
Would things be different if…
Your children and mine are on their own journey. We can’t take the journey for them. They will go at their own pace and their own time. And whatever they choose, whatever they do, your job is to do your best and trust that not only is Christ with you, He is with them. You can trust his goodness to be at work in them, just as it is at work in you.
You… are good enough.