God Grace is Sufficient for Moms – Nancy Leigh DeMoss with Erin Davis

From the radio series: Beyond Bath Time, with Erin Davis

Leslie Basham: Erin Davis says sometimes moms can be tempted to be
discontented.

Erin Davis: Here are the ways that it comes out in my own life. A lot
of huffing and puffing. “Ugh. Do I have to do this again?” A lot of
throwing up my hands, losing my cool, also using the word overwhelmed
to describe my life more often than I use words like, “blessed, happy,
fulfilled.” “If I didn’t have these children, I wouldn’t be so
overwhelmed.” Well, if I didn’t have these children, I also wouldn’t
have a lot of really wonderful things.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for
Wednesday, May 9.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: One of the core commitments of Revive Our Hearts
and the True Woman Movement is to encourage women to be intentional
about passing on the baton of truth to the next generation. So I think
about the True Woman Manifesto for example which we have talked about
a number of times in recent years on Revive Our Hearts. One of the
tenants of that True Woman Manifesto is:

Children are a blessing from God and women are uniquely designed to be
bearers and nurturers of life whether it be their own biological or
adopted children or other children in their sphere of influence.

So this week we are talking about that whole aspect of motherhood,
receiving children as a blessing from the Lord and the calling that we
as women have to be bearers and nurturers of life. I’m so thrilled
about a book that a dear friend of mine has written. The friend’s name
is Erin Davis. Her husband is on the staff here at Revive Our Hearts.
Their family is a part of our ministry. Erin is the primary blogger at
LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com and has a very fruitful ministry there with
teenagers. She has written this terrific new book called, Beyond Bath
Time: Embracing Motherhood as a Sacred Role.

Erin, all that I just said was a big mouthful. It makes you sound like
you are one very busy woman, and you are. But the joy and focus of
your life in this season is those two little boys, so far, that God
has entrusted to you and Jason. In this book and on our program this
week, you have been sharing really transparently about the journey
that it has been for you to embrace motherhood—not just to
endure it—but to embrace it as a sacred calling, as a sacred
role. I know there are points of your journey that a lot of women
listening, or the daughters of women listening, relate to.

That’s why I want to encourage grandmoms to get this book, women who
have grown daughters who are now mothering themselves, to get this
book and to help spread a whole revolution about the way that we think
about motherhood. So thanks for writing the book. Thanks for your
commitment to live it out—not perfectly—as you’ve been
quick to say. But it’s the commitment of your heart to see motherhood
from God’s point of view. And I’m just so grateful that God is helping
you to do that and is helping you now to help others who want to do
that.

Erin: Thank you.

Nancy: I think in order to see motherhood from God’s point of view, as
is true with other areas of life, we have to address the things we
believe that aren’t true. We’re bombarded in this culture with wrong
ways of thinking. In fact, I wrote a book called, Lies Women Believe
and the Truth That Set Them Free. You pick up on that same concept by
talking about some of the lies that women believe about motherhood.
There are false ways of thinking. There are things that can really put
people in bondage who want to be good mothers. For example, one of the
big lies that you address is that motherhood is a roadblock to my
happiness. Do you think a lot of women really feel that?

Erin: I absolutely do. In fact, this chapter in our book is from real
moms that I really know and they are real stories. Now I didn’t go to
them and say, “What lies do you believe about motherhood?” because of
the nature of lies, they don’t know. But I just spent a lot of time
with them, hearing their stories, and hearing them talk about
motherhood. I spent a lot of time praying about that and tried to
expose the lies that were the undercurrent of the areas that they were
wrestling. I think a lot of moms feel that motherhood is a roadblock
to my happiness.

Now, they’re not saying that. If you would go to them and say, “Is
motherhood a roadblock to your happiness?” they would say, “No.” But
they are living like it is, and they lament these things in their
lives that they think would make their life so much better if they
could have those things.

For example, one girl in the book is Victoria. She talks about,
“Before I had a baby, I could go on weekend trips. I could be more
spontaneous. I could go on vacations, and now I can’t do that.” So she
was thinking, “Oh, I would be so much happier if I could go on a
vacation. I would be so much happier if I could be more spontaneous,
but this baby is keeping from doing that.”

Another girl in the book is my friend, Jordan, who miscarried very
early on. She is very honest about the fact that her primary feeling
was relief because she felt like, “Whew! That was a near miss. I about
had my life as I wanted it to be train-wrecked.”

Nancy: And then she probably felt guilty.

Erin: She felt guilty about feeling relief. Absolutely. And then she
went on to get pregnant and to have a healthy baby girl. But her first
year of mothering was a lot like my first year of mothering. She was
miserable, and she felt like, “Oh, if I hadn’t had this baby, I would
be so much happier.”

Well, I think a lot of moms feel a version of that. “If I didn’t have
these children, I would be happier because I could _____.” Fill in the
blank.

Nancy: As you look around you see a lot of moms who do wrestle with
the outcome of that in terms of discontentment or disillusionment or
bitterness or just kind of a pervasive unhappiness that is the fruit
of this way of thinking.

Erin: Sure. It’s not a new problem. In Ezekiel 16:45 and 48, we find
God chastising the moms of Jerusalem for the same sort of feelings.
The verse says, “You are the daughter of your mother, who loathed her
husband and her children. . . . As I live, declares the Lord GOD, your
sister Sodom and her daughters have not done as you and your daughters
have done.”

He’s saying these women are worse than the women of Sodom. We remember
Sodom. They got a punishment of fire and brimstone because of their
sin. And what is these women’s sin? Bitterness and hatred toward their
husbands and toward their children.

Nancy: And that doesn’t always come out in this big, obvious way.

Erin: Absolutely. It rarely does.

Nancy: It can be just an undercurrent of discontent or resentment.
These people in my life, my husband, my children, have made my life
more restrictive; they’ve made my life more difficult.

Erin: Here are the ways that it comes out in my own life. A lot of
huffing and puffing. “Ugh. Do I have to do this again?” A lot of kind
of throwing up my hands, losing my cool, also using the word
overwhelmed to describe my life more often than I use words like,
“blessed, happy, fulfilled.” “If I didn’t have these children, I
wouldn’t be so overwhelmed.” Well, if I didn’t have these children, I
also wouldn’t have a lot of really wonderful things.

So I’m choosing to focus on that. Something that used to happen at my
house a lot more often (and I try not to let it happen as much
anymore) is that as soon as my husband walks in the door, I announce,
“I am off-duty. I can’t handle these children one more minute.” And
the message is, “Oh, these children are wearing me down. I am
miserable in this parenting role.”

But if someone would come to me and say, “Do your children make you
happy?” I would say, “Yes, of course! Do you want to see their
picture?” But in reality, I am living like if I didn’t have these
children I would be less stressed; I would be happier; my body would
return to its eighteen-year-old version of itself; all of those things
that I think would make me happy.

Nancy: But the fact is there is a lot about parenting that is
challenging. And depending what the season of life is, there may be
sleepless nights or screaming kids or sick kids or restricted
schedules. So we are not saying that if you embrace motherhood as a
sacred role, that all that stuff goes away and life becomes easy.

Erin: That’s right. Life isn’t easy as a parent. Life isn’t easy if
you’re not a parent. There are those elements of parenthood that are
always going to be there, and they can be cumbersome. But 2
Corinthians 12:9-10 says:

But [God] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is
made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly
of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For
the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults,
hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am
strong.

Nancy: Okay, hold on. I want to read that verse again because it is so
huge, for not just mothers, but it spoke to me as I was reading this
book. I’m single. I don’t have children. And it was encouraging to me
in my calling which can also feel burdensome at times and has its
challenges. So whatever your calling, whatever your season of life,
here is a core truth of God’s Word if you want to be a true woman of
God.

God said to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you.” Sleepless nights,
sick kids, restricted schedules, whatever is going on at that season,
never can keep the house picked up for more than eight minutes or
less. “My grace is sufficient for you.” Right now in this season.

Erin: And Paul says, “I’m content with weaknesses, hardships,
persecutions, calamities. For where I am weak, then I am strong.” He’s
not saying, “God took all that way from me and clouds parted and birds
started singing and everything was wonderful.” But the thing about God
and His Word that is so strange and hard to understand, it’s such a
great mystery, is that those things are a blessing in that they force
us to depend on God. They reveal our need for Him. They reveal His
goodness to us and His grace toward us.

So if you want a formula for how to make your baby sleep through the
night, I don’t have it. My son, Noble, didn’t sleep through the night
until he was a year-and-a-half old. And if you want to make your
toddler behave, I don’t know how to tell you how to do it. But I do
know that when that baby wasn’t sleeping through the night, I was
pressed into prayer in a way that I never had been before because I
couldn’t do it in my own strength. I was exhausted. And when Eli, my
toddler, pushes against me and presses against me and I am at my wits
end and there’s no way I can have self-control on my own, it presses
me into God in new ways.

So am I always happy as a mom? No, I’m not. But the lesson is that
happiness really isn’t the end goal. Easy street never leads us
anywhere we want to go anyway. Easy street just takes us to boring
places. But happiness . . .

Nancy: Some of us are thinking, “I would like to try it.”

Erin: She’d like to try it out for her own. I understand that. I’d
like to walk down easy street every once in a while. But that child
may make your life more difficult. But stop focusing on that. Are they
a hindrance to your happiness? Maybe, but they are the way to so many
other things that are so much richer than happiness. So the lie is: My
children are a hindrance to my happiness. Okay. Get over it. Focus on
all the things that they do to enrich your life.

Nancy: And Erin, what you shared there is so crucial, not just for
young moms but for women, for men, for every one of us in every season
of our lives.  As I often say here on Revive Our Hearts, anything that
makes me need God is a blessing. It’s a blessing. I latch onto His
grace in a way that I wouldn’t otherwise do if I didn’t feel so
desperate and so needy and so overwhelmed.

That’s where we see the power of God displayed in such great ways when
it’s our weakness matched up to His grace, then we see it, the kids
see it, the people around us see it. They know we are weak, but they
see that He is strong. It becomes a way of displaying the greatness
and the power of God which is really what our calling is all about.

Erin: We teach our children that song from very early on. “Yes, Jesus
loves me. We are weak, but He is strong.” And as moms, that is so
true. We are weak to mother well. But He is strong. He is faithful. If
your children are a daily, or sometimes at my house, minute by minute
reminder of God’s strength in light of my weakness, how can I complain
about that?

Nancy: I’ll tell you, in order to counter the lies, we need to learn
to counsel our hearts according to the Truth. I think there’s a mom
listening right now who just needs to say it out loud. The kids may be
there, somebody else may be around, they may think you’re nuts, but
just say, “His grace is sufficient for me. His grace is sufficient for
me.”

Erin: At my house, we frequently pray for fruits of the Spirit. I will
say to my children, “Mommy is struggling. We’re going to ask Him for
love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control.”
And when my children are struggling, I’m able to say to them, and
they’ve seen it, “You can’t do this on your own, buddies.” So Mom,
when you feel like you are going to blow your top, it’s a teachable
moment not a burden.

Nancy: Okay, there is another lie, which I think a lot of women
wrestle with, mothers or not mothers, but particularly when it comes
to motherhood. And that is that the ultimate goal of motherhood is
perfectionism—the pressure to mother perfectly. Is there a woman
who doesn’t feel that?

Erin: I don’t know or I’ve never met her. This is a huge lie and the
friend of mine who revealed it to me is a great mom. She’s like a
poster child for a great mom. She has four kids plus foster children.
She home schools them. She’s always calm. She has great hair. I mean,
she is a perfect mom. When I interviewed her for this book, I had no
idea that this would be an area that she would hone in on.

She talked about that she gets two messages from the culture about
motherhood. The first is that her children are a distraction for her
and what she wants. And the second is, but if you’re going to mother,
you better raise great kids that are perfectly behaved and do
perfectly in school. You need to have a perfectly clean home. You need
to be instilling this, this, and this. You need to be piping Mozart in
to your room. You’ve got to be doing flash cards when they are in
their high chair. And on and on and on.

And so she is a mom, and she sees the kingdom value of it. But she’s
in this pressure cooker where she feels like she has to do it
perfectly. And she’s not doing it perfectly. And so she continues to
struggle in her role.

Nancy: So what do you say to that mom?

Erin: I think we just have to realize how unrealistic it is. The
culture is sending us that message across the board. It always bothers
me, those celebrity moms who are on the cover of magazines. “She gave
birth three days ago, and now look at her in this bikini.” It’s so
completely unrealistic. And so to some degree, we have to just shut
those messages out and not let them filter in.

But Paul, again, encourages us with some great words in Scripture.
Philippians 3:12 says: “Not that I have already obtained this or am
already perfect, but I press on to make it my own” why? “because
Christ Jesus has made me his own.”

So the beauty of exposing lies is that once you are aware of it, you
have the power to do something about it. But that’s not enough. You’re
going to have to replace it with God’s Truth. God’s Truth is, “Yep.
You’re not perfect. But press on because the perfect one has already
redeemed you. And He who has started a good work in you is going to
carry it on to completion. He’s not interested in perfection from
you.”

So be faithful to walk through your calling and to depend on Him.
Jesus isn’t asking you to do it perfectly. He’s asking you to do it
well and to depend on Him, and that’s all that you can do. And so when
you start to feel that pressure to have a perfect house, perfect body,
perfect marriage, perfect children, just call it out as a
lie—that’s what it is—and replace it with God’s Truth.

Nancy: I think that a cousin to that lie is another one that you
address which is that motherhood will make you holy.

Erin: That’s right.

Nancy: You either have to be perfect or motherhood will make you a
godly woman. And that’s a lie, too.

Erin: It seems counter-intuitive to place that lie in the same chapter
with these other lies about mothering perfectly or motherhood being a
hindrance to your happiness, but I think it is just as dangerous. We
are in danger of swinging the pendulum too far in the other direction.
You don’t get any more holy with each baby that you bring home. It
doesn’t give you preferred parking in Heaven to have a bunch of
children. There’s no automatic sanctification that happens just by
being a mom.

I think it really boils down to entitlement for a lot of moms. They
feel like this is hard work. And doesn’t God see what I’m doing? And
they feel entitled to whatever—fill in the blank because they
are working hard as mothers. Or maybe it’s not directed at God. Maybe
it’s directed at their husbands, that’s probably more often the case.
“Doesn’t he know how hard I’m working as a mom? I deserve ‘me-time.’ I
deserve girls’ nights out. I deserve a bigger house to contain this. I
deserve on and on and on.” Or, “I deserve from my children because of
all I do for them.”

And certainly they should be grateful, and that’s something you are
going to have to teach them. But this attitude of, “I deserve
something,” or “I’m holier than you are because I am a mom,” or “I’m a
better Christian because I’m a mom.” It doesn’t really hold water when
we hold it up to God’s Word. There’s nothing in Scripture that tells
us being a mom is going to make us more holy.

Nancy: In fact, to the contrary, we aren’t holy. Only God can make us
holy. Our only righteousness or value or worth comes through Christ.
That’s where I think the humbling that takes place by not being
perfect as a mom is actually the very thing that can press a woman to
God’s grace and can sanctify her. It’s realizing, “I’m not holy. I’m
not perfect. I’m far from it.” If you think you are perfect, once you
have children, you will surely realize that you aren’t because they
bring out all the imperfections, right?

Erin: I think motherhood is the hottest refiner’s fire I’ve ever been
in. I think I’ve thought more highly of myself than I should have
before I had children. And those babies and their neediness just
exposed a selfishness in me. When my children are disobedient and act
up, it reveals the ugliness of my own disobedience in new ways. So
they’re not making me holy just by proxy of being my children. But the
process of mothering, if I will use it as a refiner’s fire and if I
will use it to push me toward God and not away from Him, does have a
way of making my heart more like His.

Nancy: Purifies.

Erin: True.

Nancy: Well I want to encourage our listeners to get a copy of your
new book, Erin, Beyond Bath Time: Embracing Motherhood as a Sacred
Role. It’s a great book for young moms, moms with little kids, but
also one for those who want to be moms and older moms who want to be
an encouragement to younger moms and then single women, like me, who
also want to be an encouragement to younger moms. But also for all of
us who need to be reminded of God’s grace and His sufficiency and that
when we are weak, He is strong.

And in fact, if I had a takeaway, personally, from our conversation
today, I would take it back to that verse, 2 Corinthians 12:9 which I
think needs to be not only a mantra for mothers, but for all of us.
“My grace, God says, is sufficient for you. For my power is made
perfect in weakness. Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my
weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

And O Father, how I pray that You would encourage moms, women, Your
children in our roles, our calling, whatever that looks like. We give
to You, we lift up to You our weaknesses, our need, our failures, all
the areas where we realize we are not measuring up. We thank You that
we can’t be perfect, we know that, but that Christ is perfect. If He
lives in us, then we are pleasing to You and Your grace is sufficient
for us at every point of need.

So Lord, would You just pour out, I pray, a baptism of grace on many,
many listeners today as together we say, “Lord, we are weak, but You
are strong.” We are so grateful. We pray it in Jesus name, amen.

Used with  Permission. Revive Our Hearts.

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