Years ago, I discovered that my dieting efforts were often counterproductive.
Intent on becoming a better version of myself, I would eagerly embark on some new dieting plan.
Inevitably, I would cave. I would indulge in a miniature chocolate, and then drown in guilt.
I had failed. The one little, inconsequential chocolate would give way to a complete meltdown.
I had already broken the plan, so why keep trying?
This is how motherhood feels to me at times.
I have a plan. I want to be a good mom. I want to be the best version of me.
But somewhere along the way, I cave.
A child in a meltdown bites me and I become angry.
My tongue indulges itself by saying what it really wants to say, and instantly I'm drowning in guilt.
I'm a failure. I'm a horrible mom. I can't do this. I'm not enough.
When another trying situation arises, I'm not prepared to face it. I'm a failure, how can I? And I fail again. And again. And again.
I've noticed that when I am in this pattern, my children are too.
If I can't escape my frustration and attitude of failure, it comes out each time that my children misbehave.
Guess how they feel? Like a failure.
Guess what they continue to do? Fail.
And here we are, stuck in a vicious cycle of guilt and failure.
We need to be rescued.
God does not want me to drown in my guilt. When I fail, His purpose is not for me to beat myself over the head again and again and again.
His purpose is for me to fall to my knees, repent and receive grace, His unmerited favor.
While forgiveness restores relationships, grace enables me to get up and try again.
Grace says you are not a failure. Grace says I believe in you. Grace says I love you. Grace says you are perfect for this job. Grace shows kindness and favor when I do not deserve it.
Grace breaks the cycle of failure.
When I recognize my own need for grace, I see my children's need for it to. When I receive it, I can also give it.
When my children misbehave, I can hold a boundary yet build them up in grace. I can use my tongue to encourage – to give them a taste of love and favor.
I used to think that when parents said to give grace to children it meant to let them get away with things. Don't give them the time-out, just give them grace.
I don't believe that anymore, because I have seen how grace works in my own life. I need to recognize my mistakes in order to receive and appreciate grace.
But here is the difference.
When my child is sitting in time-out, I'm trying not to say, "What were you thinking? Why in the world did you do that? Don't you dare try that again!"
Instead, I'm trying to say things like, "You are in time-out because you hit, and that is not acceptable. I know you are a good brother and that you can be kind to your sister."
Those words do not roll off the tongue, but they illicit such a different response from my children and break the cycle of failure.
I do not need to be my vision of a perfect mom in order to be a good mom. I just need to be me, imperfections and all, walking in and giving grace.
I do not need to be my vision of a perfect mom in order to be a good mom.