I never knew I could struggle with being a perfectionist until I became a mom. Suddenly I wanted to do everything absolutely perfectly—after all, we were talking about my sweet baby’s wellbeing here.

  • I wanted to always meet all of my children’s emotional, physical, and spiritual needs right away and to the fullest extent possible.
  • I wanted to never lose my temper with my sweet babies, never give into selfishness, never experience an unwillingness to make sacrifices for the good of my little ones.
  • I wanted to always provide my children with the best nutrition out there.
  • I wanted to take my little ones to the park on a weekly basis at least (if not more!) and provide them with all the fun and special childhood memories they could possibly want.

Well, I’m sure by now that you can guess how far those good intentions got me, right? About one day into motherhood and then—boom! Temper lost. Sacrifices fought. Selfishness exposed. And the rest of the list crumbled as the months and years went by.

It can feel incredibly tempting to roll over in despair, distraught over just what an imperfect mom I really am. And yet God, in His mercy and grace, taught me a truly beautiful lesson a couple months back when this imperfect mama was shown just how much the gospel can be made tangible and clear to my children specifically through my imperfections.

I don’t know what the problem was exactly, but I swear my three-year-old, Anna, and I must have both awakened on the wrong side of the bed that morning. From morning until afternoon, we went through this vicious cycle of mama yelling at Anna, Anna yelling at Mama, Mama praying with Anna that Jesus would forgive Mama and give her strength, and on and on it went, from prayer to yelling, from prayer to yelling, and back again.

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By the time the afternoon rolled around, I was exhausted. I couldn’t understand why I could not get myself together! I would ask the Lord for forgiveness and strength, feel so much better for maybe half an hour, and then lose my temper all over again.

What was wrong with me?

That’s when it happened. I lost my temper AGAIN. Devastated and thoroughly disgusted with myself, I sat with Anna on her bed, proverbial tail tucked between my legs and shoulders sagging. I was going to pray with Anna yet again over the exact same issue.

But before I could, my little three-year-old took my hand in hers, looked in my eye and said, “I’m gonna pray.” Heart melting, I replied, “OK, baby” and closed my eyes. Until the day I die I will never forget the words she prayed:

“Dear Jesus, thank You that You forgive mommy when she’s not very nice.”

You could have heard a pin drop. I didn’t know whether to remain positively speechless or burst into grateful, humbled tears. 

She’s getting it! I thought. She’s really getting it! As ridiculous as it felt to yell and then pray and then have to pray all over again when I yelled yet again, that whole process was used by our amazing God and His great redemption power to bring so much good into my daughter’s heart and mind. Through that repetition that day, she was coming to understand a vastly important truth: Jesus forgives us when we sin and ask for His forgiveness.

And that, my friend, is when something I had written in a book and on my blog months before actually hit home for me: The Lord never asked you to be a perfect mom; He merely asked you to point your children to a perfect Savior.

As beneficial as it is to read our children Bible stories, memorize Scripture with them, and teach them the good news of the gospel on a day-to-day basis, sometimes it is precisely those moments when we fail and fail hard that are actually the very ones used by God to open our children’s eyes to the truth in a more amazing way than anything else ever could. And I praise the Lord for that! That, my mama friend, is grace beyond compare!

So, do I want to be the absolutely best mama I can be for my children, a mama who makes it clear to them just how much I love them and how happy and blessed I am to be their mom? Yes! But I no longer want to be a “perfect” mom (whatever that even is). Because I know the Lord can (and does) use my imperfections to point my children to Him. 

And that means more to me than any “#1 Mom!” award ever could.

Rebekah Hargraves

Rebekah Hargraves is a wife, mama of two littles, blogger, podcaster, and author whose passion is to edify, equip, and encourage women in their journey of Biblical womanhood, particularly with an emphasis on the gospel and its implications for everyday life. Rebekah's first book, "Lies Moms Believe (And How the Gospel Refutes Them)" released last fall, and the "Lies Moms Believe" Companion Bible Study comes out March 30, 2018. You can find Rebekah on her website, Hargraves Home and Hearth, on Instagram, or on iTunes via her podcast.