Last weekend I spent two days in the woods with my nine-year-old on a mother/daughter retreat. We played mini-golf, rode a pontoon boat, wove a spectacular craft, and overall enjoyed some rare one-on-one time.
This retreat was a chance for me to get reacquainted with my daughter separate from her little sister, and free from the usual distractions of school, work and technology. I whipped out my iPhone only to text selfies back home to Dad—and to tape a few incriminating videos of my friends during the minute-to-win-it games. (Sometime try slamming a swig of Pepsi with an Alka Seltzer in your mouth. The fizz shoots out your nose, just saying.)
Our speaker—the fabulous Tammy Muller—slayed us with Bible truth and then stitched us back up with practical tips for applying those truths to our everyday lives. One lesson in particular just might revolutionize my parenting; I’ll be sharing more about that in my June newsletter (subscribe here if you’re not already on my e-mail list). I love a teacher who can shine a flashlight on my Bible and reveal fresh, glowing insight I’ve somehow never seen before. That’s Tammy for sure.
Often, though, that kind of insight can hurt, too, because it causes me to recognize what I’ve been doing wrong up until now. And I know I’m not alone. After our Saturday morning session, I stood up from my chair, turned around, and saw a friend seated in the row behind me, crying.
“Did that message hit you hard, too?” I reached out to rest my hand on her shoulder.
“Oh . . . I am that mom who’s been reacting all wrong,” she whispered. “How do I go back and fix what I’ve already broken?”
I wonder the same thing myself sometimes. Do you?
I can look back over nine years and see the moments I blew it with my firstborn, snapping or yelling or locking myself in the bathroom for a time out. Because why? What did she do to make me so cranky? I can’t even remember anymore. But I do remember my own impatience, my own ugliness, and the remorse I felt after it spewed out my mouth.
I think of all the teachable moments I missed because my thoughts were focused inward, not outward. Because my head was running down its to-do list or my nose was stuck in a computer, and I granted only a small portion of my attention to the little people in the room.
And I wonder who I am in my daughter’s eyes. Am I the person who loves her, understands her, and protects her gentle heart? Or does she see me as an adversary more often than not?
These are tough convictions. But they all point to the same solution.
Forget about it.
Stop looking back. Start looking forward.
“I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us” (Philippians 3:12–14, NLT).
More than anything, the Apostle Paul wanted to be like Jesus. Yet even this biblical ultra Christian admits he wasn’t there yet. He was imperfect just like you and me. If indoor bathrooms had existed in the first century, occasionally Paul might’ve been tempted to lock himself in one, too.
But did he wallow in his mistakes? Did he dwell on the years he spent persecuting Christians or even the last few hours he inevitably spent fighting the flesh like all humans do?
No. He didn’t focus on the past. He chose to forget about it. And instead he looked forward. He pressed on. He kept running the race.
As moms it’s very easy for us to beat ourselves up for our parenting mistakes. Whether we look back on a bad day or a string of years spent reacting to our kids’ behavior in anger and frustration, neglecting to nurture, encourage, or love them the way we wish we had—today it all amounts to one thing.
So forget about it. Just look forward to what lies ahead—Jesus.
“. . . let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. . .” (Hebrews 12:1b–2a).
It’s never too late to become a good mom. You know why? Because you already are one. The fact that you’re reading this devotion right now is itself evidence that you care enough about your family to seek God’s will for nurturing them. That’s a sign of a mighty loving and intentional mom indeed.
So together let’s fix our eyes not on our mistakes, but on the One who gave us the job of parenting in the first place. Because unlike us, God makes no mistakes. You are your child’s mom for a reason.
Let’s press on together—you, me, and Jesus. Amen?