This devotion originally appeared on Proverbs 31 Encouragement for Today.
My stomach lurched as I sprinted into the bedroom where my 14-month-old daughter greeted me with a toothy grin. There on the littered floor, she played among a fallen lamp with a couple of scattered, small picture frames — and all the contents from the drawers of my now-toppled bedside table. She was oblivious to any danger, including the sharp corners of the table, mere centimeters from her head of curls.
I shakily shuffled back into the living room where the evidence of misplaced priorities waited silently — a cup of coffee and my journal.
My eyes fell to the opened notebook, the ink fresh where just minutes before I’d written, “Lord, help me to glorify You by opportunities You place right before me.”
Conviction overcame me.
How could I have asked God to reveal opportunities to serve Him, while ignoring the possible harm my toddler might encounter?
It’s unrealistic for mothers to be an omnipresent figure in our children’s lives, to tether ourselves to our little ones 24/7. However, in this case, I decided five minutes of alone time in the next room was worth the risk, minimizing the possibilities of the “worst case scenario.”
Just writing that sentence is painful, but it’s the ugly truth. I spent the rest of the day sickened with emotion wrought with guilt, shame and self-loathing — as a barrage of “what ifs” permeated my thoughts.
How could I fail God again?
Will I ever learn?
Why do I repeat the same mistakes over and over?
In the midst of despair, the words of Paul came to mind: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
I’m not sure why many of us find it difficult to appropriate God’s grace and mercy in certain areas of life, especially motherhood. We accept His free gift of grace in the context of salvation, but at times we ignore the boundless grace He extends to us throughout our time on earth.
Somewhere along the line, I bought into the false belief that I must earn God’s grace, and that unless I lived a perfect life, God would withhold His mercy and grace on undeserving me. Nothing is further from the Truth of God’s Word.
No one can ever earn God’s favor at any time, for any reason. No one. Not ever. His mercy to us renews each morning. God’s grace and mercy are not a one-and-done occurrence; it’s something I need every hour of every day, because God loves us and keeps us — no matter what.
The mind can be a dark place. Within seconds, it can take us from mountaintop euphoria to valleys of doom and despair. As sinful people, weak in our flesh, how do we end the pity party, dismantle the doubt, and then rise from the abyss of self-loathing?
Our answer: Abide in Christ.
Listening to the soundtrack of His Word and connecting with other believers rightfully restores and renews our faith. We cannot break the chains that bind us to ungodly thoughts without the Word of God, the Truth that sets us free.
The events of that morning still cause me to shudder. God protected my little girl on the floor, and I am grateful. This experience reminded me that no matter how much I strive for perfection, especially as a mother, I will always come up short. I cannot earn my salvation; I cannot live a sinless life; I cannot gain God’s favor or love through my own deeds.
But … by daily acknowledging God’s gracious gifts of forgiveness and everlasting love, I can relinquish the pressure to be perfect to the only one who is — Jesus.
Lord, may Your grace cover me. Thank You that Your mercies are never-ending. Help me remove my expectations of perfection and lean on You for daily strength. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
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