Why your children really need you to be imperfect

Version 2

Ephesians 2: 8-9 For by grace you have been saved, through faith.  And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

This day after Easter has me so deeply grateful for a Savior who reached out to save us, right smack in the middle of our mess… a Christ who went to the cross saying “Forgive them.”

I’m awestruck with the goodness and mercy of Jesus, who knew how we would think we know better.  He knew we would try to take matters into our own hands.  He knew our weakness, and He loved us first.  Jesus took on all of our brokenness and self-reliance and outright rebellion, just because he wanted to be with us forever.  Hallelujah!

But this day after Easter also has me thinking it tragic how many of us moms in Christ seem to leave all of this freedom at the door of our homes.

Maybe we walk in freedom at church, at work, in friendships, in ministry, but with our children, we writhe in guilt and carry all the weight of our own brokenness solidly on our own shoulders.

Can you relate?

The pressure to be a “good mom” is enough to squeeze all of the freedom right out of parenting.

Maybe you see the shame in your child’s eye and you fear you may have caused it.  Maybe you notice his slumped shoulders and downcast eyes, and fret about where you went wrong.  Maybe you intended to be her biggest cheerleader, but somehow all of today’s words ended up sounding more like criticism.

Maybe you’re lying in bed with the sinking feeling that your daughter saw right through your smile with gritted teeth and the forced calm tone of your voice that was holding back an ocean of rage.

Maybe you hear harsh words come out of your son’s mouth, and you wonder if he learned them from you.  Maybe your daughter’s eye roll is a carbon copy of yours.

And what if her shame is the one you carry?  What if their biggest struggles are the ones you gave them?  You never meant to discourage them, but you just met their moment of weakness with impatience, or their mistake with judgment?

These are the kinds of thoughts that make me feel like there’s lead in my bones, when I try to get out of bed in the morning.

Most of us perceive the blessing and the privilege of being called “Mom” enough to feel that haunting feeling that we’d better not mess it up.  

But what really happens if we maintain the image that we have never missed the mark?  If all of this pressure we put on ourselves results in us doing the mom thing just about perfectly, and our children never really see us mess up, is that really the best case scenario?  Is the goal really to never let our children see us make a mistake, to seek and expect the same perfection from them?

And where does that Easter morning hope fit in?

In this scenario, what happens the first time our kids give into peer pressure and make a bad choice?  In a home with no mistakes, how do they feel when they break our favorite vase, or spill juice on the brand new couch? Do they feel safe to come and tell us?

In a home with no mistakes, will our children feel it’s ok to actually need a Savior, or will they trade their need for pressure to be good enough on their own?

I’m not suggesting that you mess up on purpose.  But if you’re like me, it might be time to release some pressure to be the perfect mama, and consider being the redeemed mama instead…the one who needs the sweet new mercy of Christ every day.  The one who sometimes needs to apologize for her bad attitude.

This version of ourselves ushers our children to the foot of the cross, instead of to the illusion of Perfection, the throne of More and Better, the idol of Busy, the heroism of Self-Sufficiency.

If we want our children to learn how to need Jesus, we have to be willing to need Him ourselves, even in parenting…especially in parenting.

We learn about a God who provides, when we lack something we need.  We learn about being brave, when something ahead makes us uncertain or afraid.  We learn about a God who comforts and binds up hearts, when our hearts get a little smashed and broken.  We get to know a God whose grace is sufficient, when we run out of ourselves.

We learn about a God of mercy, when we can look courageously at our mistakes and cry out with our hungry ache for rescue.  

The brave little feet in our homes need to know it’s ok to stumble.  They need to know that God loves to speak right to the gashed and bruised places in our hearts.  And they don’t learn most by what we tell them.  They learn most by watching us.

So, good news, sisters, if you’re feeling a little sick and broken like me, then you can rest assured that you are just who Jesus came for, and you are primed and ready to be a perfect example of a disciple of the Christ, who knew we couldn’t do it without Him.

Mark 2: 17 On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

2 Corinthians 12: 9-10  But he 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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

3 thoughts on “Why your children really need you to be imperfect

  1. Deborah Perez-Reyes

    Thank you Jenny. My nest once held three but is now empty, and yet you describe my mothering journey, both past and present, perfectly. Wise words.


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