Mothers of Grace

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Print this download to help you remember that God trusts you to be your children’s mother.

Download “He Chose You”

Can you describe a typical homeschooling mother? Do you know what curriculum she uses, what kinds of activities her children do, what kind of house she lives in, or what she feeds her family? Does knowing what a typical homeschooling mother is really matter? Why do we want to know?

I think I know why. We women are masters at comparing ourselves with others. We learn how to do it when we are little girls. I learned one of my first comparing lessons in second grade when my parents signed me up for a beauty contest.

Seated at left is my Aunt Emily, who is only 18 months older than I and who was also in the contest. I am sitting beside her and my Daddy's mother, whom we called Mama Sue, stands behind is her dining room.
My family went to my grandparents’ house on the night of the contest. Seated at left is my Aunt Emily, who is only 18 months older than I and who was also in the contest. I am sitting beside Emily. My Daddy’s mother, whom we called Mama Sue, stands behind us in my grandparents’ dining room.

Mother gathered layers of baby blue tulle onto a tiny satin bodice to create my first evening gown.

Here I lean on Daddy, while his little sister Emily holds his arm.

On the day of the contest, she curled my hair with skinny rubber hair curlers.

Here Emily (at right) and I pose with her daddy who was my Daddy Leland.
Here Emily (at right) and I pose with her daddy who was my Daddy Leland.

Mother and Daddy drove me to a nearby elementary school for the contest. While we girls waited in one of the classrooms, someone snapped my picture with Emily. There I am with short curly hair, my long blue gown, and a big smile with my two front teeth missing.

Emily (left) and I wait in a classroom at the elementary school.

I don’t remember what it was like to walk across the stage or how I felt when I didn’t win, but I do remember comparing myself with another little girl. I felt second best. Her dress was pink and fancy and came from a store. Mine was simpler, homemade, and blue.

Aunt Emily and Me

My feelings about my homemade dress have changed a lot since 1959. I’m not ashamed of it anymore; it is one of my sentimental keepsakes. Mother was sweet to make it and I cherish it. My little blue gown is in a closet waiting for my granddaughters to play dress-up in it one of these days.

Yes, I have learned some lessons, but I still compare myself with other women more than I like to admit. Do you do that, too? Have you ever looked at other homeschooling mothers and felt inadequate? I know exactly how that feels. As much as I want to be like Mary Poppins, “practically perfect in every way,” I am much more like Jo in Little Women, “hopelessly flawed.” I have a desperate need for grace.

How about you? Do you feel inadequate, imperfect, hopelessly flawed? I’m not surprised, because you are, I am, and so are those other women. That’s why Jesus died.

Do you really think you have to be perfect to do a good job with your children? God doesn’t think so. Stop for a minute and think about the woman God chose to be your children’s mother. Out of all the women in the world, out of all the women in the history of the world, He chose you.

Cherish your role as a mother. Don’t let your feelings of imperfection keep you from being what your children need. Those feelings can rob your children of something they need very much – you. Pray. Trust. This is God’s work you are doing. Remember that He understands all, He is able to help, and He loves you. You don’t have to carry all the load. Give yourself grace.

Do you ever compare your children to other children? Your children need grace, too. God created each one in His image. He knit them together. He knows every detail about them. God didn’t use cookie cutters, but He created each child to be unique. Some children learn calculus with ease; others are good with their hands. Some learn to read when they are four; others learn to read when they are eleven. Some grow up to be skilled engineers; others become compassionate caregivers.

Trust God’s wisdom in making each child the way He did. One of the beauties of homeschooling is that you can tailor a child’s learning so that it helps him become the person God intended. Teach him. Be patient with her. Wait when he needs you to wait; push when she needs you to push; but never try to press your child into someone else’s mold. If you aren’t careful, you might begin homeschooling with God’s goals in mind but get scared along the way. You might try to press your child into a mold that will never fit. Accept the individuals God has created and put in your care. Give your children grace.

If we play this comparing game enough, we might actually find people who make us feel not inferior, but superior. Do you sometimes look at other mothers, shake your head, and wonder why they do this or don’t do that? Do you wonder why their children act the way they do? Do you judge some mothers because of how they homeschool and others because they don’t homeschool at all?

We need to remember that we don’t all have the same story. We don’t have the same challenges. Perhaps the women we are judging are doing the very best they can. They might be learning every day what “normal” is because they grew up in troubled families. They might barely be holding on in their marriages. They might be struggling to rear hurting children whom someone else has abandoned. We only see part of the picture. Only God knows the whole truth. He is the perfect judge.

Give grace to other mothers. God began giving grace in the Garden of Eden. Thousands of years later, when He inspired the last words of the Bible, they were these:

“The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.”
Revelation 22:21

Look at that tiny word all. God offers grace to everyone who seeks Him: you, me, and all those other mothers, too. Let’s be mothers of grace — mothers who seek God with all our hearts, who have the courage to raise our children to be the people He created them to be, and who have the grace to let others do the same.

Therefore let us not judge one another anymore,
but rather determine this—
not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way.
Romans 14:13

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