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Right here in the messy middle of it all – just like you – my morning was full of time outs and Cheerios on the floor and rushing off to swim practice. I changed diapers and I said the wrong thing and I folded laundry and poured bowls of cereal and rushed a song of blessing and let out a few big sighs that may have given my precious ones the impression that I am exasperated by them. I issued a few extra kisses to try to make up for my bad attitude and hustled to assist a little one in the bathroom. I buckled seat belts and said “I don’t know” to most of the questions and shot up desperate prayers for more grace, more strength.

This is how I sit to write — nearly always convalescing from some parenting failure, usually from the last ten minutes. My mind often burdened with a child’s need for which I have no answers. Feeling weak beyond measure.

And yet something aches in me that I can’t bear to not tell you. A deep beautiful grace has rained down on me, and I want it for every mama.

Before I had children, I was cozied in my assumptions about parenthood — a sweet overflow of a loving marriage, an opportunity to leave a legacy, enrich our lives, invite joy. Sprinkled with truth, but troublingly simplistic, I thought I would just do my best, make sure they know I love them, set good boundaries, have fun, and we’d all turn out fine. I’ve always known children are a miracle, a privilege, a gift. I always assumed we would experience ups and downs.

But there’s a weightiness I never imagined and a freedom that has led me to the heights.

Jesus offers this sacred invitation…”whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10: 39)

I never knew that motherhood was an invitation to die. I’ve wondered at stories of reckless faith and obedience to serve where God calls, but I never knew that I could find this most holy ground right here in my home — that I could be resurrected into a new kind of living, just on the other side of dying to myself. I never knew that in motherhood I would be invited to die a million times a day, and find the freedom of a life hidden with Christ. I never knew I would be invited to give away my comfort, my dignity, my autonomy, my privacy, my self-preference, my efficiency, my sense of control, and that I would exchange it all for intimacy with my King, the only source of true life.

There is always a place for personal boundaries and self-care. Take care of yourself, sister.

But joy comes in making peace with this journey of motherhood being one of sacrifice. I’m discovering the greatest invitation in motherhood is one to lose my life to find it.

And so, as we meet needs in the wee hours of the night, give our day away as a chauffeur, or as tiny people toss their trash at us, we can find the strength to calmly parent – a privilege and a sacred mission – in the place where we let go. We let go of our rights, our pride, our life, and our hearts are set free.

What I want for every mama is for her to experience this sacred dance before her Father in Heaven. I long for the beautiful invisible works of her hands to feel like worship. I ache for you to go ahead and lay it all down so that you can experience the riches of God’s grace for you.

“My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise” 

Psalm 51:17

“But the king replied to Araunah, ‘No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing”” 

2 Samuel 24:24

This piece originally appeared at jennymslattery.com.

 

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Jenny Slattery

I'm convinced that I'm the biggest mess you'll meet, but somehow I've landed myself in the heart of God's outlandish grace. I'm wife of 12 years to the most incredible man, and mama to five wildly inspirational tiny people, who make me want to be better in every way. My living room is usually a sloppy cross between circus, broadway musical, and wrestling ring. Motherhood has blessed me and stripped me raw, leaving me keenly aware of my brokenness and limitations. But God has graciously led me on a journey of walking in His new mercies for each day, gathering His grace like manna, and I'm learning that parenthood is more about being on my knees than being on my game.  

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