04 Sep A Hard Lesson for Every Mom: Letting Go of Perfection
I never thought I would say this, but I’m excited to share one of my struggles with you all. And it’s not just that I’m sharing a struggle, but I’m sharing how I have found God’s grace through it.
When I was growing up, the general way of thinking was that you didn’t share struggles because it made you look like less of a Christian.
But as I’ve grown, I’ve seen that perfection doesn’t help anyone grow closer to the Lord, but being vulnerable does.
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God Doesn’t Work Through Us Looking Perfect
God doesn’t work through us looking perfect, He works through our vulnerability.
Sharing your struggles and needs is what is truly powerful. When we open ourselves up, people can see the hope and the grace that comes from seeing that you don’t have to do it on your own.
When we share struggles, what we’re doing is highlighting the truth that God is here, that He has a plan, and that you are a part of that plan.
By now, you may have realized that today we’re talking about perfection. The pursuit and idea of perfect makes life hard in itself.
But when we take that pursuit into our motherhoods, it makes motherhood way harder than it needs to be.
When I was younger, I would go to piano lessons every Thursday after school. Throughout the week, I would be practicing at home and prepare the music that my teacher had given me.
Once I had a song kind of under my belt, I remember sitting at my parents’ piano in their home and I would start to play a song.
But as soon as I messed up, I would stop everything and I would start back over at the beginning because I wanted to play it through from beginning to end perfectly. I didn’t feel accomplished until I played it through perfectly
Now when I look back at that memory, it makes me sad. Because that was not the point of learning an instrument at all. Years later, when I became the worship leader at my local church, I had to let go of that perfection mentality.
I had to let it go, because I couldn’t be in the middle of a song in service, and just stop everything, if I’m messed up.
I couldn’t stop the entire band or the congregation just because I wasn’t perfect. Even as I’ve been a worship leader now for a decade, there are still going to be mistakes I make every single Sunday. And in those instances, God doesn’t require me to be perfect.
Once I realized that being perfect didn’t equal being godly, it changed my thinking.
The truth is even if I played every note perfect and even if I did everything exactly right, that still didn’t translate into godliness. Because the truth is there’s only One who is perfect. God alone is perfect, and because of that I don’t have to strive to be perfect. And more than that, God doesn’t call me to be perfect.
Our Father Doesn’t Expect Perfection
God doesn’t expect perfection, but He does asks for a willing heart.
In Matthew 4:18, Peter and Andrew were fishing at the Sea of Galilee. Jesus walks by and He sees them throwing their nets in to the sea because they’re fishermen. That’s their trade. That’s what they do for a living.
And Jesus tells them, “Come and follow Me and I’ll make you fishers of men.”
Jesus didn’t tell them, “Hey guys, I have a BIG purpose for you. But before we get started, why don’t you go home, clean yourself up, shave, get that stinky fish smell out of your clothes, and meet me in an hour at the local mercantile.” He didn’t say that because He didn’t expect perfection from them. He just wanted a willing heart.
As Christian moms, we want good kids, and we can err on the side of wanting them to be perfect. And that’s where we come to the hard lesson every mother needs to learn…
Raising Godly Kids Doesn’t Equal Raising Perfect Kids
As moms, how does this truth about perfection apply to our lives and our motherhood? If we know that God doesn’t expect perfection from us, then we have to stop expecting perfection from our children.
God doesn’t expect perfection from us, so we have to stop expecting perfection from our children.
Now, to be clear, I’m not talking about the child that is intentionally and repeatedly disobeying. We’re still called to train up our children.
But we can’t expect kids to be not be kids. Sometimes they get excited and slam the door. There will be times they forget to feed the dog.
They’re just kids and things happen. And it’s in those times we have to choose the way that we speak to them and the way that we share grace with them (the way our Heavenly Father shares grace with us).
Ultimately, our children are going to imitate what they see us do.
They’re going to imitate how we speak and, more than anything, they’re going to imitate our character.
So are you giving an example of someone who is very demanding and has to have things perfect all the time?
Or are you setting the example of someone who is firm but also extends grace just like you’ve been given?
You know your children best. You know the difference between when they are defiant and when they’re repentant and willing to change because that’s really what God expects from us.
Grace always trumps perfection.
If given the choice between having perfect kids or having godly kids, which would you choose?
I don’t know about you, but I want to choose the child that is seeking after the Lord even if they mess up.
See what perfection does is it isolates us. It stops us from going to others.
So if we think that we have to be perfect, we end up paralyzing ourselves from doing anything for God.
Think about the example of the piano I told you about. I knew someone who was so fearful of not being perfect she couldn’t even perform at recitals because it was just too much.
If she couldn’t guarantee perfection, then she didn’t want to do it at all.
I don’t ever want to be at that place and if you demand perfection from your children, they aren’t going to be able to measure up.
They’re human just like we are. And when they don’t measure up and they know they don’t, you’ll be the last person they come to. They’re not going to reach for you. And mama, that’s not what we want.
And truthfully, that’s not what God wants in His relationship with us.
God is a God of reconciliation and grace, He wantsus to be reconciled to him. That’s the whole reason that He came and died on the cross. It was because He wanted to be reconciled with us.
So we can choose to learn that lesson and raise our children accordingly. We can choose grace because we want to be reconciled with our children.
I want to choose grace over perfection with my own sweet boys. And there is a difference.
Would you rather have a child who always has a perfect room with every toy in it’s place. One who never talked out of turn, never threw a tantrum in a store…
Or would you rather have a child who is kind to the new kid at school, helps an elderly lady across the street, and gives from their own allowance to a child in need?
Seeing them do those things means more to me than them just being “perfect.” Because there’s no way that you can be perfect. There’s noway they can be.
And I’m always reminded that if God doesn’t expect it from me, I shouldn’t expect it from my children.
The Root of Mom-Perfection
A the root of it all is where are you base your confidence and your worth. Where do you base your worth? Is it based on outside circumstances? Is it based on what you do or how you do it, or is it based on who God is?
Because when we base our worth and our confidence on who God is, we stopped demanding perfection from ourselves.
We start to do our best and be motivated to live with intention because we want to please Him, not because we feel compelled to be perfect.
We do it because we love the Lord and we want to serve Him and that is all that He asks us.
He just says, “Come and follow Me.” Part of that is taking up our cross. Part of that is putting in the work, the action behind following Him, but ultimately He doesn’t make us clean up before we come to Him.
So if we want to have an intentional relationship with our kids and we want them to come to us, we have to respond the way our Heavenly Father does with us.
I don’t know about you, but I want my boys to run to me. I don’t want them ever to feel like they need to run away from me.
With that in mind, if you’re constantly demanding perfection, you can guarantee that that will cause your children to run away from you because they feel like they’ve disappointed you.
BUT if you choose grace…
If you choose raising godly children over perfect ones…
And yeah, that means that there needs to be repentance, that means that there needs to be some discipline, but it also means that there is grace overflowing. And that grace means that when they do mess up, they come to you because they’re worth is based on who God is and not based on the circumstances around them or the things that they do.
That was definitely a hard lesson to learn as a mom, especially as my boys have gotten a little bit older and aren’t tiny babies anymore.
Now, they’re making their own decisions, they’re saying things that are purposefully mean to each other, they’re testing the waters.
And it can be easy for me to say, “Oh, be quiet” or “Don’t say that,” but instead I’m choosing to make those teachable moments.
Instead of saying “don’t say that” instead I can choose to say, “let’s look at what God’s Word says about how we should talk to each other.”
Together, we can look up verses like Ephesians 4:32, “be kind and compassionate towards one another or forgiving each other just like God forgave us.”
That’s how to raise a godly child versus raising a perfectly behaved one.
One Last Thought
How can we demand perfection from our children if our Father doesn’t demand it from us?
That’s really where a heart of grace comes from. That’s the WHY behind choosing grace over perfection.
Think back to where God called you. Out of your mess, out of your problems. He called you to come, just as you were. He gently guided you to the place you arenow.
And that’s what we’re called to do as moms, too. If you have been a perfectionist all your life, make sure that you begin to see your worth the way that God sees you.
And one way you can do that is with a little gift from me. I just added a resource to my (free!) VIP Library that is filled with I AM statements. These statements were written by Neil Anderson, and I’ve made them into a pretty graphic for you mamas out there that have a heart for parenting with grace. Get access to it HERE .
You can download and print it off. Each statement has a verse that reminds you of who you are in Christ and how you can choose to see yourself the way that God sees you.
Because ultimately when you base your worth on who He is, you quit expecting perfection from yourself because you know that you already have worth based on Who you belong to. And that truth can and will spill over to your children as well.