We’re kicking off the second week of our series called #ParentingFail. And we’re obviously having a lot of fun in this series as we get real about parenting. The reality is that, as parents, we fail. A lot. A whole lot.
A lot of times when a pastor preaches a parenting series, it’s either whitewashed and spit-shined so much that it makes parenthood seem like utopia, or it’s so filled with unrealistic, unattainable goals that parents leave feeling like garbage.
We don’t want to do either one of those things here at Connect. We want to preach messages that actually apply to the reality of life, because the Word of God applies to the reality of life.
So in this series, we’re owning up to this reality. Parents fail.
And that’s something you can relate to even if you’re not a parent. Or maybe you’re now a grandparent. This is a parenting series, but it really applies to everyone. All of us can relate to failure.
Today, we’re going to be talking a lot to moms. And specifically, we’re going to be talking about some #MomFails. But don’t worry, moms. #DadFail is coming next week.
In a lot of ways, our culture sets moms up to fail. Think about the images of moms and families that you see in magazines, in commercials, etc. Everywhere you look, you see pictures of the perfect mom, with her perfect family. And it can cause you to feel like a failure as a mom, because your family doesn’t look anything like that.
I found a blog this week called, “It’s Like They Know Us.” And I actually spent way more time on this blog than I intended, because it’s so funny. The blog is run by Sara Given, who actually doesn’t live to far from here. She and her family live in Columbus.
On this blog, Sara pokes fun at the unrealistic stock photos of families that you see in advertising, in magazines and online, etc. These are real, actual stock photos. They’re not jokes. Sara posts these photos and then she writes more realistic depictions of parenting to go along with them.
Here are a few of my favorites.
Now, isn’t that just the perfect picture of mom and baby. Yeah, perfect. And SOOO realistic, right?
Here’s the caption that Sara wrote about this picture. “Oh, I always sleep when the baby sleeps. Otherwise, the magical kitchen elves wouldn’t have enough time to finish the dishes.”
Now that’s real, isn’t it moms?
Here’s another. Tell me that isn’t the perfect family? Mom and dad staring lovingly into each other’s eyes, with baby on their lap.
And they’re saying to each other, “I bet we never fight again.”
Yep. That’s how it works.
Here’s another. Two moms, hanging out together with their babies. Everything is perfect.
And here’s Sara’s caption. “You were right! Ever since we started White Couch Feeding with Emmett, he’s been eating like a champ.”
There you go, moms. That’s how it’s done.
Here’s another. You ever see a picture of those perfect birthday parties? And then you look at your kid’s parties, and realize that they never quite measure up? This is one of those times.
But Sara captioned it, “My, what a fun birthday party/premise for a Stephen King novel we’re having!
There are few people here will be having nightmares tonight. You’re welcome.
A couple more. Now that’s just a picture of pure bliss, isn’t it? Could anything be more perfect that that?
Sara wrote, “Co-sleeping with both of our children up through 4th grade has not had any negative impact on our intimacy or ability to get 8 full hours of rest every night. It’s also a lot easier to get them into their carriers in the morning.”
Somebody probably just got offended by that. That’s good. You needed it.
Last one. Mom and daughter, sitting at the computer. Smiling. Laughing. In perfect harmony.
Sara wrote, “My adolescent loves sharing her online life with me. She appreciates that the boundaries I set are for her own good. She would never dream of complaining about what her friends are allowed to do.”
That’s true, isn’t it mom?
Here’s the thing about motherhood. It isn’t a stock photo of perfection. It’s anything but that. It’s hard. It’s gritty. It’s messy. It’s real.
There are real victories, but there are also real failures. And today, we’re going to talk about some of the more common failures that moms fall into, and what God has to say about it in His Word.
So let me pray for us, and then we’ll jump right into it.
Today, we’re going to spend some time unpacking a Scripture from the Old Testament book of Isaiah. This isn’t a verse specifically about motherhood, but it has so much truth that moms need to embrace.
In Isaiah 30, the prophet Isaiah wrote, “This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: ‘In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.’” (Isaiah 30:15, NIV)
This is so, so good. So let’s start unpacking it.
Here’s where we’re going to start, moms. Your worth doesn’t come from your womb.
How’s that for blunt? We’re not messing around today, because there are moms who need to be set free today. And this is a liberating truth: your worth doesn’t come from your womb.
God is telling you, “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength…”
It doesn’t say, “In your son is your salvation. In your daughter is your strength.”
That’s because your worth doesn’t come from your womb. Your worth, your value comes from Christ. Listen to what Paul wrote in Ephesians 2.
“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.
[God makes us alive in Christ. Your worth doesn’t come from the child you gave life to. It comes from the God who, by His grace, gave life to you.]
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
[We are examples to the coming ages, or the coming generations, of God’s grace. Moms, and dads too, when you know that your value comes from Christ, you become a conduit of grace for your kids, your grandkids, etc. You will leave a legacy that will outlive you.]
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:4-9, NIV)
Your worth comes from grace. It’s not from yourselves. It’s not from anything you have done, and it’s not from anybody that you have raised. Your worth comes from the gift of God called grace.
And that means that if you’re not a mom…maybe you’re single…maybe you haven’t had kids yet…maybe you’re unable to have kids…this means that your value as a woman is not affected by that at all. It does NOT change your worth. It has absolute no effect on your value, because your value and worth come from Jesus Christ.
And if you are a mom, I love the way Gloria Furman said it. She said, “Motherhood is not about adding to your value as a woman. It’s about Jesus. It’s about worship.”
That’s the lens that we need to use when we look at motherhood. It’s not about adding to your worth. It’s about adding to your worship.
And like we talked about last week, when we understand this, it releases so much of the pressure that we put on ourselves. Because if being a mom is about your worth, then you are going to be driven to insane lengths to achieve perfection.
If being a mom defines your worth, then you really can’t allow yourself, or your family, to settle for anything less than perfection. And you know what gets lost in your drive for perfection? Grace.
There is no grace for your husband if he was kept late at work and forgot to text you.
There is no grace for your kid if they bring home a “C” on their report card.
There is no grace for yourself if dinner gets burned.
And you know what? It’s not a lot of fun living in a house with no grace.
That’s why I love the sign that Nicki bought that hangs in our kitchen. It simply says, “Grace is not a little prayer you say before receiving a meal, it’s a way to live.”
Moms, let me ask you…are you cultivating a home of grace? Because perfectionism and grace cannot coexist. Is your husband allowed to fail? Are your kids allowed to fail? Are you allowed to fail?
It all comes back to where you believe that your worth comes from. If your worth comes from being a mom, then failure in the family just can’t be tolerated. It can’t be tolerated because any failure is a threat to your worth. It’s a threat to your value.
So you can’t let that failure stand. And you DEFINITELY can’t let that failure go public. You say things like, “Don’t tell anybody. Keep this quiet. Don’t let anybody know.”
You airbrush everything about your family’s image, so nobody knows the dirty little secret that your family is flawed and imperfect. Because if they knew that, then they would know that you aren’t a perfect mom. And you simply can’t let that happen, because being a mom is where your worth and your value come from.
See the deadly cycle that is perpetuated when you believe that your worth comes from your womb?
But if your worth is found in Christ, then you’ll always be ready to extend grace. It doesn’t mean that you enjoy failure, but it absolutely means that you accept it.
If you’re living in grace, that means that if someone drops by and your house isn’t in perfect, apple pie order, it’s ok. You don’t freak out. You just shrug your shoulders and move on.
Living in grace means that if you get called to the principal’s office because your kid did something dumb at school, it’s ok. You’re not happy about it. And there will be discipline handed out. But you’re not mortified that the image of your “perfect” family has been tarnished.
In other words, living in grace means that you can accept it when people figure out that you don’t have a stock photo family. Your family is less than perfect.
Listen mom, because it really is this important. Where you find your worth will affect everything about your family. The environment that is created in your home is directly linked to where your value and worth come from.
If it comes from being a mom, then things are going to get really messed up. And your husband and your kids are not going to like it. And deep down, neither will you. That’s what happens when your worth comes from your womb.
But if your worth and your value come from Christ, you can take a deep breath, and you can rest in the beauty of His grace. And as your pastor, here’s what I want you know, mom…that’s better. That’s a whole lot better.
Here’s a second #MomFail that we see a lot. You’re a mom, not a machine.
This might surprise you, but I’m not a mom. But I happened to be married to a mom. A great mom. The best mom I know. So as I was writing this message, I asked Nicki what moms need to know or be reminded of. And she gave me so much good stuff. Her responses are really what directed this entire message.
And one of the things she said was that moms need to stop feeling guilty when they take some time for themselves. She said that it’s important to go out with friends. It’s also important to get away with your husband, and NO KIDS. (And every husband is thinking, “Amen!”)
In other words, you’re a mom, not a machine. You have to give yourself the space and the time to rest and replenish.
Go back to what Isaiah wrote. “This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: ‘In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.’” (Isaiah 30:15, NIV)
In repentance and REST is your salvation. In QUIETNESS and trust is your strength.
How much of that do you have in your life, mom?
“Well, you just don’t understand. Like you said, you’re not a mom, so you don’t understand all the pressures. You don’t know what it’s like. I’ve got kids going in all different directions. I’ve got to deal with my job, and my house, and sick kids, and dinners, and laundry, and dishes. It never stops!”
If that’s what you’re thinking, you’re right. I’m not a mom. And I’ll never pretend to understand what a mom deals with. But I do understand Scripture, and here’s what Scripture plainly says. Salvation is found in rest. Strength is found in quietness. And like Isaiah said, a whole lot of us will have none of it.
For example, moms, when is the last time you got away with your husband? No kids. Just the two of you.
Some of you have never done this since you had kids. And forget about a getaway. Some of you never even have a date night without the kids!
I want to put this as delicately as I can…that is stupid and dangerous and destructive. See? Delicate.
And dads, this is on you even more than it’s on your wife. You’re the leader of the family, so lead. You need to make this happen. Regularly. I’m not one of those legalists who say, “You’ve got to have a date night every single week!” I live in reality. And in the real world, some weeks it’s just not in the cards. But if you’re talking in terms of months, or even years, since you have a date night, I repeat…that is stupid and dangerous and destructive.
And mom, if you just can’t leave your kids to go on a date with your husband, you are teaching your kids some seriously jacked up priorities.
I wrote this on Facebook and Twitter a couple of months ago. “In healthy families, the order is always:
Mess up the order, and things just get messed up.”
If you can never leave the kids for a getaway as a couple, or even to go on a date, then you are teaching them a different order. You are teaching them that the order is God, Kids, Marriage. Or in some cases, possibly even Kids, God, Marriage.
Look, don’t get me wrong. You’re kids are awesome. They’re cute and smart and talented. But they’re not God. And if they have that kind of priority in your life, the Bible calls that idolatry. For some of you, the reason your family is jacked up is because you’ve got a cute little idol. Stands about this tall. And they’re in one of these rooms behind me right now.
It’s getting a little tense in here, isn’t it? Let me push down on this a little more. Mom, not only does God come before your kids, but your marriage does, too. Dads, same goes for you.
Your marriage has to come before your kids. Your kids are in your home for a limited amount of time. But your marriage is for life.
Divorce rates in our country are still incredibly high, but they are actually not growing. That’s something to be thankful for. While the divorce rate is still unacceptably high, it’s not growing…except for one group of people.
Do you know the one group of people where the divorce rate is still going up? Empty nesters. People whose kids are grown and gone are getting divorced more and more everyday. They are the only group in our country where the divorce rate is still on the rise.
That surprised me at first, but then I thought about it. It’s so easy to make your whole life revolve around your kids. When they’re babies, they constantly scream for your attention. A baby is the most self-centered person you will ever meet. Feed me. Burp me. Change me. And do it NOW! When you have a baby, it’s so easy to see nothing else in your life.
Then when your kid starts school, life can revolve around their schedule. The school calendar becomes your family’s calendar. You’ve got this game on this day. And that project is due on this day. And this school party is over here on this day.
Then your kids become teenagers. And this completely dominates your life because you get eaten up with worry. They get their license, you worry that they’ll run over somebody. They start dating, and you worry about them keeping their clothes on. At every turn, it’s worry, worry, worry.
By the time these people grow up and get out of your house, it’s very easy to look at your spouse and say, “Now who are you again?”
All the married folks, listen up. The fastest-growing segment of our population that is getting divorced are empty nesters. While the kids were growing up, mom and dad were growing apart. Now the kids are gone, and so is the marriage.
The point is that children are very noisy, and the noise gets our attention. But marriage doesn’t work that way. A neglected marriage doesn’t usually go out with a scream. It goes out with a sigh.
Moms and dads, it’s up to you to make sure that doesn’t happen. And that means date nights. It means getaways. It means that you make time for your marriage. You don’t wait until you find time. That will never happen. Ever. You don’t find time for your marriage. You make time.
And aside from teaching your kids to follow Jesus, this is the single greatest gift you can give them. The absolute best thing you can do for your kids is call grandma and grandpa, or call a babysitter, and leave them there! One of the greatest gifts you can give your kids is keeping your marriage strong and vibrant and alive.
Our two boys may have to worry about a lot of things in their lives, but one thing they will never have to worry about is their mom and dad getting a divorce. It’s not happening. “Well, you don’t know…” Yes I do. It’s not happening. Talk to my wife. She’ll tell you the exact same thing.
And one of the reasons why is she knows that she’s a mom, not a machine. She takes the time to rest and recharge. She goes out with friends. We go on dates. We had a getaway, just the two of us, back in April. It’s not all about the kids. That’s why we’ll have a marriage when the kids move out.
Go back to what Isaiah wrote again. There’s one more #MomFail that we’re going to pull out of this passage. “This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: ‘In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.’” (Isaiah 30:15, NIV)
Look at these words. Repentance. Trust.
As a mom, you’re going to fail. You’re going to have more #MomFails than you would ever want to admit. It’s ok. Perfection isn’t required. But repentance is.
When we fall short, when we stumble, when we sin, we repent. Repentance simply means that we turn back to God. We seek His forgiveness and restoration. And Isaiah reminds that this is where we find salvation. Not in perfection. In repentance.
And then, we trust. Trust is where we find our strength. And this addresses the last #MomFail we’re going to talk about today.
Trust is a must.
You can read Bible stories to your kids. You can pray with your kids. You can bring your kids to church each week. And you should. You absolutely should do every one of those things.
But as Nicki said when we talked about this message, ultimately you can’t write your kids’ salvation story for them. You can, and you should, do all of those things, but there comes a point where you simply have to trust God with the outcome.
Proverbs 22:6 is the verse that is usually quoted at this point, but a lot of people misinterpret it. Solomon wrote, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” (Proverbs 22:6, NIV 1984)
A lot of people read this and say, “Well, if I disciple my child, if I teach them about Jesus, if I take them to church, if I pray with them, they’ll never walk away from it.”
That’s not what it says. It says when they are old, they won’t turn from it. It doesn’t say that they’ll never turn from it.
Some of you are struggling with teenagers who are questioning their faith. Or college students who seem to be rebelling against it. Or even adult children who really seem to have nothing to do with it.
If you planted the seeds when they were younger, now it’s time to trust. You can’t write their salvation story for them.
Just because they seem to have rejected the faith doesn’t mean that their rejection is forever. Just because they have questions and doubts doesn’t mean that it’s over. It could just mean that they’re going through the process of making their faith their own.
When kids are small, they live on their parents’ faith. And that’s enough for them. But when they become teenagers, that starts to not be enough. When they go to college and move into adulthood, it’s not enough. Their faith has to be just that…theirs.
And moms…and dads, too…your role is to pray. To set an example. Be patient with them. And to trust God with the result.
But ultimately, God is trustworthy. He’s not going to give up on your kids, just like he never gives up on you. He died for them, and He died for you.
That’s why the book of Hebrews says, “Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.” (Hebrews 10:23, NLT)
Trust is a must. Jesus didn’t die for you just so he could give up on you. And the same is true for your kids. A God who was willing to give His life for you, and then was powerful enough to rise again…that’s a God who can be trusted, even in the craziest, hardest, most uncertain times of our lives. That’s true for moms. That’s true for dads. That’s true for teenagers. That’s true for singles. That’s true for grandmas and grandpas. It’s true for everyone.
We hold tightly to the hope we have in Jesus, because God can be trusted to keep His promise.
And really, trust is what this verse is all about. One last time from Isaiah. “This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: ‘In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.’” (Isaiah 30:15, NIV)
Let’s make sure that isn’t us. Let’s not be people who would “have none of it.” Let’s be people who embrace all of it.