I bought into the lie.
It was a subtle lie, a clever lie. One with flecks of truth sprinkled throughout. Subtle enough to assuage any guilt but not enough to raise an instant alarm. Grounded in a desire to be a good mother, the lie slowly, over time, created a mixture of anxiety and resentment in my own heart. The daily mundane felt joyless, and I saw no end in sight.
It started innocently enough, with bits of advice from well-meaning spectators, all-knowing Instagram personalities, and even those full-of-so-many-suggestions Bible studies.
You aren’t volunteering as a family? Why not? That will teach your children how to care about others. You should do that.
Your daughter hasn’t tried that sport yet? How will she know if she likes it if you don’t let her try it?
Have you signed your kids up for that new class? It’s cheap, why wouldn’t you? They’d love it.
Your son really needs this [fill in the blank], most other kids his age have one.
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Books are great, but you should really be doing more read-alouds together. That’s how they’ll love literature. Add that to your list.
Don’t your kids need more structure? More organized activities?
Bible time as a family is so important. And when you add an activity, family worship song, Scripture memory, and prayer time, it’s even better.
You’re getting them outside enough, right? You should try for 1,000 hours outside this year. Why wouldn’t you?
You’re with your children a bit too much—if you keep sheltering them, how will they know how to function in the world?
You’re great at your other job, but I bet you’d enjoy being a full-time mom, right?
Every self-proclaimed, works every time suggestion or piece of advice lodged itself in my brain, convincing me I needed to do more, more, more for these children who I love more than my own life.
All (okay, most) of these suggestions weren’t bad. Why wouldn’t I want to add experiences to the lives of my children to help them flourish?
And therein was the lie: this idea that more is better. More is what our children need to develop Christ-like character. More is what will help them become well-rounded, well-adjusted human beings.
As I tried to fulfill this self-imposed quota of more, I felt myself becoming more anxious, exhausted, and frustrated. Because I just couldn’t keep up with it all. And my family was starting to feel the strain.
During my quiet time, I was led, as I often am, to Matthew 6, where Jesus spends a noteworthy amount of time talking about anxiety. We’re all familiar with the illustration: If God cares for the birds and the lilies, then how much more will He care for and provide for us?
But what hit me the hardest was the flawless transition into these familiar yet often overlooked words: “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).
I’d memorized these words as a child, but until now had not connected them with this overarching theme of anxiety and fear. Instead of worrying, striving, obsessing, and fearing about reaching some sort of unattainable level of motherhood perfection—instead of reaching for the unreachable and seeking that which I could never hold and be satisfied—seek first the kingdom of God.
Seek not perfection, but personal, intimate knowledge of God.
Seek not security from doing more, but satisfaction from what He has already done.
Seek not validation from meeting everyone else’s expectations, but value from the God who calls me His own.
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This truth has brought so much rest, restoration, and purpose to our family. My desire has always been to provide discipleship and character development for my children. These things take intentional conversation, discipline, and lots of interrupted moments. But if I’m rushing from one thing to the next, checking boxes and saying yes to every good idea or expectation, I won’t have time for those moments.
Do you see the lie? The enemy whispers more, more, more because the hard, crucial work of discipleship gets elbowed out of the way when the schedule is packed and the parents are anxious and high-strung.
The world might applaud your child and his 75 memorized verses, overflowing reading list, and perfect attendance at church extracurriculars, but if his heart isn’t turning toward God—if your family isn’t seeking Him, but rather grasping frantically for more, more, more—then what does it really matter?
Our family has found we are healthier, kinder, and better rested when we set simple boundaries that allow us to reject the lie of “more” and embrace the truth of “seeking Him first.”
We’re far from perfect. But when you’re no longer seeking perfection, that fact is no longer crippling like it once was.
Christ is perfect because we aren’t. And when children see their parents resting in His work instead of anxiously toiling and placing faith in their own work, well—that’s when real discipleship happens.
Originally published on the author’s blog