Before having children, I was a type-A, get-it-done, dependable, over-achieving workaholic. I believed that if I didn’t perform perfectly, I was worthless. When people disapproved of something I had done, I wasn’t just bummed, I was wrecked. As I graduated college and started my first career, the challenge of keeping all the plates spinning at all times proved to be an impossible task. I left that job burnt out and looking for a new way and joined the staff of a ministry only to repeat the cycle. Although my work was under the guise of being “all for God,” it was impossible for me to work hard enough to achieve the peace I craved.
As life seasons changed and I got engaged, I tried to keep this pace up but was halted when I crashed one night in the parking lot of a marriage prep class. My heart was racing, vision blurred, legs buckled, and I couldn’t catch a breath. I was gasping for air and my mind was spiraling with all kinds of dark images and messages. My husband (then fiancé) was with me, and called the ambulance. I thought I was having actual heart failure, because I had never experienced anything like this before. It was a full-fledged panic attack, one that had me out for weeks - unable to eat, stay awake, or function in my day to day life. It also crippled my faith and led me to a point of deep despair and questioning. Not only could I not gain the peace I desired by working so hard, but the belief that I could work to gain my worth was killing me.
You would think that this “rock bottom” experience would deliver me, but motherhood has proven to be yet another place for this false way of thinking to expose itself. Even as a mom of two kids, this same struggle often knocks at my door. Let’s call it what it is, mamas: perfectionism. If I’m not careful, perfectionism is the default lane that my mind and body run in. If I’m not actively fighting this desire to be faultless, it will consume me, like a dark cloud consuming a once blue sky, turning into a dark storm.
Are you anything like me? Do you hit the pillow at night asking yourself what you did that day that makes you a success or a failure, plagued by a laundry list of reasons of how you are screwing up your children and ruining your own life in the process? This downward spiral of inner-dialogue doesn’t help us achieve the peace we so crave throughout the day. Scripture offers a better source:
Peace with God. Say those words out loud (seriously), with me. Peace with the Almighty, Powerful Creator of the Universe.
Peace is something my mama heart is all about. I want my home to feel comforting and inviting, for there to be order and predictability. Those are good goals, right? But where I go astray is when I confuse having a tidy home or freshly cooked meals as the sources for true peace in my soul. Soul peace isn’t clean dishes and well behaved children, soul peace is derived from the knowledge that “we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” If our souls do not have this peace with God, there can be no peace in our marriages, no peace in our finances, no peace in our motherhood, friendships, work, thought life,…the list goes on and on. Any semblance of peace we derived from anything apart from the finished work of Jesus is fleeting and false.
So how do we get off of the hamster wheel and into this rest?
Romans 5:1 says that we are at peace with God because He has justified us by faith through Jesus. But, what does it mean to be justified?
Justified: To be made right in the sight of God, declared innocent, freed.
When we are justified, the gavel is wrapped and the verdict given - we are free. Free from enduring the punishment we deserve for our sin, and free even still from the agonizing laundry list of reasons why we do or do not measure up as a mom. The world around us is always seeking to fill our minds with ways to justify how well we are doing as a mom. But the word of God speaks boldly that it’s not because of anything we have or have not done that we are “okay,” but because of Christ ALONE.
This peace is something that we RECEIVE from God, not something that we have to ACHIEVE for ourselves. That’s why it produces rest! Instead of living to achieve our peace, we can live with freedom and joy out of the peace that we have been given with God through the work of Jesus.
Mamas, instead of laying your head on your pillow tonight and replaying all of your mistakes or successes as a mom from the day, replay the truth of the Gospel and praise God that you don’t have to live under the weight of achieving your peace, because true perfection has already been achieved for you, and His name is Jesus. This Savior delivers you from the need to be perfect in all that you do, into the blessed rest of all he has done for you.
QUESTIONS FOR APPLICATION/ REFLECTION:
- What do you consider to be your measure of success? What standard do you hold yourself to? What things are in your “laundry list” of failures?
- Make a list of the things of the things you turn to for peace other than Jesus.
- Now write “is not my peace” after each of them. And write “Jesus is my peace” below them. He covers your imperfection with His beautiful perfection.
- Repent (confess and ask God to help you turn away from) these false “saviors” and ask God to help you embrace the righteousness he has given you in Jesus.
Natasha Red is a mom of two, wife and business owner. She helps women organize their meal plan and create an intentional plan for hospitality. She believes God is expanding His Kingdom through simple meals shared around the table and wants to see women everywhere equipped with the tools to make both cooking and practicing hospitality less stressful. She does this through her Seasonal Meal Planner, a year long prompted meal and hospitality planner along with her blog and Instagram. She loves a big cup of hot tea, a good book, slow living and seasonal rhythms. Find out more about Natasha atwww.natashared.com or @natashajred on Instagram.