His Perfect Strength
If you’re like me, some of the best moments on the job as a mom are when you see or hear your child finally GET what you’ve been trying to teach them.
Recently my four year old son Isaac has been struggling with being scared of robots and noises in his room. I have been telling him continually that he doesn’t have to be afraid of them, or anything for that matter. I want him to understand his position and authority as a child of God in Christ, to know that when he encounters fear, he does not have to be paralyzed by it but can rise above it and be victorious. So when he tells me he feels afraid, I tell him that Jesus in him is greater and bigger and that if he tells those robots or monsters to go away in Jesus’ name, they have to go…and THEY will be scared of him and leave because of Jesus! So imagine the joy in my heart when he came to me the other day and excitedly said, “Mom! The robot came and I say ‘In Jesus’ name’ and the robot run away from Isaac!!!!” All I could do was smile as he jumped up to give me a high 5. Yes!!! He gets it! Praise Jesus, I must be doing something right!
But I have to admit, those moments are few and far between compared to the moments I’ve felt like a complete failure or been brought face to face with an area of my own weakness. It seems that most of mommy life is not riding atop those mountaintop experiences, but rather trudging in the trenches: doing the laundry, mopping up spilled apple juice, correcting bad behavior and tantrums, and just trying to make it through another sleepless night and LONG day. Or at least it is that way for me right now. And I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who has looked into that little face you love so well and heard words come out that reflect the not-so-perfect in you: “Okay Mom, that’s enough dishes for now. You have to do the rest.” This was my experience only a few days ago. Looking at my Isaac sitting on the couch watching Octonauts, I decided (for the millionth time), that he was NOT going to be a couch potato but rather learn to do chores and have some responsibility! So I told him to come and help me dry the dishes. Not once, but twice, and finally he came, only after being threatened with discipline and loss of privileges if my order was not obeyed. And so these were his words after he had dried maybe four dishes for me. I was disappointed in what he said, but mostly, I was disappointed in MYSELF, for I could see my own weakness so clearly, and it was disturbing to say the least. How could I expect my son to do chores without complaint when my own attitude towards them is so negative?
To be completely honest, and as you have probably already guessed…this is an area of challenge in my own life. I HATE cleaning, chores, and housework. I would rather bake or cook any day than clean (assuming I have someone to clean up after me, lol)! I don’t mind “straightening up,” and I do love a house that looks put together, but CLEANING??? Doing dishes every day? Routinely vacuuming, sweeping, mopping, scrubbing toilets and showers? NOT a fan. And as a result, I find myself slacking off, procrastinating as long as possible, forcing myself to only do what’s necessary to keep going from day. And then when I finally do them, I often complain and sigh and just have an overall bad attitude. My mom has always had an awesome work ethic, but believing it was best, as I grew up she allowed me to focus entirely on my school activities and homework instead of housework. This enabled me to get straight A’s, get my poetry and writings published, and become the salutatorian of my class, but although I helped her occasionally vacuum or do dishes, I never learned to be disciplined about doing chores at home as a way of life. She and I have talked about this (and even laughed about it) and I don’t blame her for it…but we both know it’s a terrible weakness of mine. It hasn’t really bothered me that much until now, when I see my lack of discipline reflected in my son. And yet, what can I do? Can I just decide to change myself? I would like to think I could, but how good are any of us at that? In our own strength that rarely (and successfully) happens. It can feel hopeless to think of a way out of a weakness like this, but I have to remind myself that I can do all things through Christ. He gives me the strength and the power to overcome, not just in matters of spiritual darkness, but even in everyday life tasks.
The scripture that comes to mind as I write this is 2 Corinthians 12:9 – ‘And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.’ Of course my situation and Paul’s in this passage are quite different, but I still believe the all-sufficiency of His grace applies to any seemingly impossible situation. So how can I ignore that? How can I forget that the Bible is filled with nothing but stories of ordinary people with overwhelming human weaknesses serving an extraordinary God? A God who somehow is able to take those things we hate about ourselves and use them to bring glory to His name. A God who delights in taking our frail humanness and making us strong in Him in spite of ourselves. A God who can make good out of anything bad and showcase His unsurpassed STRENGTH in place of our weakness. Yes, I serve THAT kind of God.
Do you have weaknesses in your own life, things you may even see reflected in your children? I think we’d be lying if we didn’t admit that we all have those things in some measure or another. But overall, I think that’s a good thing. If we were perfect in everything all the time, who would get the glory for things done right? And to take it even further, why would we need Jesus? As I reflect on that experience with my son, I am inspired afresh to overcome. To seek God and ask for His help in overcoming my weaknesses, to give me ideas on how to use my time more efficiently and set a better example for my kids, in my attitude, actions and words. Practically I’m planning a chore chart for Isaac to earn time to watch movies and play his Nintendo. But ultimately, I want God to show me how to rely on the sufficiency of His grace, to cling to His perfect strength in the midst of my imperfections, to rely on Him to change me because I know I cannot change myself. To know that the most important thing is not having a clean house, but a heart that gives Him a home. It’s showing my kids I love them, spending time with them and teaching them to love God and love others. And in doing that, everything else will fall into place.
Father God, I ask You to help me overcome those weaknesses I see in myself. Help me not to condemn myself for them, but rather to lean on You for strength. To let Your power be made perfect in me, so that when others look at me they see Jesus. Let them see You in me, and let all the glory be Yours alone. I surrender all I am to You and ask You to change what needs to be changed in me. I declare by faith in Your Word that Your strength WILL be made perfect in my weaknesses. In Jesus Name, Amen