Motherhood is hard. At times it can feel like the greatest gift and then seven seconds later, you’re locking yourself in the pantry, tears running down your face, stuffing your mouth with Oreos.
We moms are hard on ourselves. The pressures of culture, social media, and those around us place expectations on us that we were never meant to carry.
But there is good news. Jesus paid the ultimate price so that we can live free and forgiven. Did you hear that? We are free and forgiven! The mistakes we’ve already made as moms and the mistakes we have yet to make have all been declared not guilty.
If we’ve already been forgiven for things not yet committed, why is it so hard for us moms to forgive ourselves? Confessing and asking for forgiveness the first time is easy, but coming back to the feet of Jesus the 77th time can feel like we’re failures.
Jesus says that is not the case. I want to equip you with 7 prayers for your tool box the next time you need to confess and ask for the forgiveness he’s poured out over you.
As moms, we can only take so much. We’re human after all! When getting shoes and socks on takes 30 minutes just to get out the door, it can be maddening. And when we step on a Lego in the middle of the night, our anger can certainly get the best of us. (Those things hurt!)
Feelings of anger are normal but when rage takes over, we hurt others and ourselves.
It’s important to remember that even Jesus got angry. Righteous anger is towards things that are not of God, things that God gets angry at too. Evil, injustice, and sin are all evidence that we live in a broken world, and we are broken people raising broken children.
“And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and He overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons.” Matthew 21:12-14
Righteous anger is in fact a character of Jesus, but we must also model him in our response. He did not sin.
“Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent.” Psalm 4:4
It is righteous to be angry at the sinful behavior of our children, but we are called to love the individual. Like a disease, sin takes hold of the inner workings of a human heart. When a loved one gets sick, we hate the sickness, not the person.
When we react out of pain, frustration, and the desire for control, we hurt our relationships. When we’re on the verge of lashing out in response to our children’s sinfulness, we must take a step back and take it to God with this forgiveness prayer.
“Heavenly Father, forgive me for my unrighteous anger. Give me patience when my kids are closing in on my limits. Fill me with compassion towards them when they sin. Remind me of the grace you’ve shown me despite my own sinfulness. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
Let’s be clear from the start. There is no such thing as a perfect person, mom, or child.
Even if we were to be perfect parents, what would happen when our children leave our homes and encounter imperfect people? They wouldn’t know what to do! They would not have the skills, maturity, or mental fortitude to handle the broken world we live in.
Our children NEED our imperfect selves. Great moms model how to apologize, restore relationships, ask for forgiveness, resolve conflict, and handle disappointment.
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Remember our job as mothers is not to be perfect but to steward the lives of our children well. Our role is to love, guide, and discipline our children and the end result is between the child and their Heavenly Father.
“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6.
We are not God, and how our children turn out is not in our control. Yes, we can influence them in the way they should go, but God created them and loves them more than we do. We can rest in the fact that he has their life in the palm of his hand.
How you choose to influence your children is between you, God, and your spouse. Culture doesn’t get a say here. In my conversation with Andy and Sandra Stanley, we discuss how their unique goals for their family shaped their parenting decisions.
The next time you’re down on yourself for not being the perfect mom you wish to be, take this forgiveness prayer to our Heavenly Father.
“Lord, you are good and you are the only one in control. When I fall short in my parenting, I can trust that you never will. You are the only perfect parent. Help me to surrender my kids to your perfect will. I believe your plans for them are good. In Jesus name, Amen.”
Moms often tell me that a big challenge in motherhood is the amount of ordinary and mundane things we are tasked with every day. Laundry, dishes, diapers, toys. Repeat.
Motherhood can feel boring when we miss the tiny blessings throughout our days. There are good gifts all around us but our numbed-out minds cloud our vision.
When we fail to see the graces God has given us, our ability to function diminishes. Our eyes are set on the wrong things and we miss the right things. When we seek or crave things that are not ours in this season, we miss his presence in the present.
“For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.” -Romans 1:21
Every moment of every day is a gift, and when we see them as such, we can experience God’s goodness in the most ordinary moments of our day. Our mundane chores are an act of service, and our attitude is our response to God’s good gifts.
Changing diapers, for example, can be an incredibly powerful and holy moment if we seek God’s presence in it. In “Every Moment Holy” by Douglas McKelvey, he writes a beautiful prayer on this pesky and stinky task.
“My unseen labors are not lost…I am not just changing a diaper. By love and service, I am tending a budding heart…I am actively creating a culture of compassionate service.”
So the next time we are tempted to grumble while changing another blowout, packing lunches, folding laundry, or sitting in the school pick up line, we can pray this forgiveness prayer.
“Lord forgive me for missing your blessings all around me. Thank you for my family and the selfless service I get to model for them. In the midst of the mundane, may I feel your presence and experience your abundant joy. In Jesus name, Amen.”
Women tend to be worriers. Then when they enter motherhood, they are met with a whole new wave of triggers. If you struggle with anxiety, I hope you find comfort that you are not alone. Certain levels of anxiety in motherhood are normal.
We know what scripture says, and we know we have a good, good, Father. We study his word, we go to church on Sunday, we sing along to worship music, and love God with our whole heart, minds, and souls. Philippians 4:6-7 is our anthem.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
Still, our minds run amuck, leaving us worried about the big things and the little things. Despite the promises we know are secured, our thoughts take us down dark rabbit trails.
Rest in the fact that anxiety is not stemmed from a lack of faith or unbelief. Of course our faith can heal our anxiety, but God is not frustrated with us when we are consumed by anxiety yet again.
He made us, afterall. Our gifts, talents, skills, likes, and yes, even our negative attributes. He knows every hair on our head, every desire of our heart, and every fear in our minds. Like a loving father, he calls us to come to him again and again and again.
For some, anxiety can be overcome through coping skills. For others, medical care is the best. But as long as we’re moms, we will have anxiety over our children. It’s the result of one of the most profound loves we’ll ever experience.
It’s a gift, but it can sometimes feel like a curse to love our children so much. So the next time we feel guilt and shame over our anxiety, we can go to the Father whose arms are outstretched towards us. He knows the love we have for our kids. He created it.
“Father, forgive me for trying to carry all the anxieties of my heart. Help me lay them down at your feet. Forgive me for dwelling and not running to you sooner. Give me your peace, Lord, let it rule over my heart. In Jesus name, Amen”
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No one is a better example of handling hurt and offense than Jesus Christ. From both strangers and his best friends, he experienced ridicule, lies, betrayal, abandonment, and physical torture. And he did nothing wrong.
Jesus had every right to be resentful and bitter, yet he responded in truth, love, and willingness to endure it all. As he hung on the cross bleeding, wounded, and gasping for air, he committed one of the most beautiful acts. He prayed for those who hurt him.
“Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34.
One of my favorite worship songs is “How Deep The Father’s Love For Us” written by Stuart Townend. One of the lyrics says, “It was my sin that held him there.” Think about that for a moment.
It wasn’t just Pontius Pilate and his soldiers who nailed Jesus to the cross. It was our sin, even though not yet committed, that pierced his hands and feet. That prayer he prayed wasn’t just for those soldiers looking up at him but for us who would come after.
When we grasp the forgiveness we’ve received without any merit of our own, we can extend forgiveness to others. Whether it’s our family or strangers, we can freely forgive because we were undeserving of that forgiveness prayer 2,000 years ago.
When we are holding on to bitterness from an offense, we can pray this forgiveness prayer over ourselves, the other party, and the circumstance.
“Lord Jesus, forgive me for my unforgiveness. You have extended forgiveness to me more than I can comprehend. Help me extend the same forgiveness to others, even when undeserved. Release me from the bondage that unforgiveness holds on me. In Jesus name, Amen.”
Oftentimes we moms assume we know the complete lives of others through their curated snapshots.
She always cooks a beautifully home cooked meal, and we ate fast food 3 days in a row. Her outfits are always so stylish, my clothes are so old. Her home is so beautiful while mine looks like a dumpster fire.
While these self-loathing comparisons are damaging to our self esteem, we can also compare our lives to others in a way that makes us prideful.
She yells at her children; I would never discipline my kids that way. She is always late; I manage my time well. She overdrinks; I would never get that sloppy.
Comparing ourselves to others poisons our identity and relationships. But God calls us to compare ourselves with one person. and it’s not anyone we follow on Instagram.
Jesus is the only standard we are to pursue. When we compare ourselves to anything less, we are missing the point of the Christian faith.
2 Corinthians 10:12 says “when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.”
Our chief goal as followers of Jesus is to grow in his likeness. With that comes the responsibility to celebrate the uniqueness of others while helping those who have room to grow. Anything less is a distraction from his abundant blessings and call on our lives.
In my conversation with Nora Jones, she shares how we are not failures because of someone else’s successes. No one’s gifts threaten our own calling, and no one’s faults should make us boastful. Instead, we should honor all the ways his grace manifests itself in his kingdom and in his people.
In the last chapter of the Gospel of John, Jesus and Peter are having a conversation about death. Jesus says both Peter and John are going to die for his sake. In verse 21, Peter compares the manner of his future death to John’s.
“When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remains until I come, what is that to you? You follow me.”
Did you catch that? “What is that to you? You follow me.”
Jesus calls us to keep our focus on him and to obey and follow his unique call on our life. We are not to look to the right or left. When we feel the poison of comparison creeping in, we can pray this forgiveness prayer.
“Lord Jesus, forgive me for losing focus and comparing myself to others. You call me to grow in your likeness, no one else’s. Help me keep my eyes focused on you alone so I can celebrate your abundant blessings both in my life and in the lives of others. In your name I pray, Amen.”
Many of us are addicted to something. From seemingly harmful addictions like Netflix, chocolate chip cookies, and social media to more serious strongholds like pornography, alcohol, and drugs. We all crave something that fills an immediate void with an unhealthy solution.
The challenges of motherhood can cause us to want to numb out and escape our lives, even if just for a few minutes. We seek solace in carbs, social media is our savior, and Real Housewives is our therapy.
We expect these things to make us feel better, but instead they perpetuate our misery and cripple us spiritually, emotionally, and physically. They keep us in bondage and never satisfy, leaving guilt and shame in their wake.
We are running to the wrong things. In those hard moments, when we want to escape, God calls us to seek refuge in him.
“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. Fear the Lord, you his holy people, for those who fear him lack nothing. The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.” Psalm 34: 8-10
This invitation should propel us out of our bad habits and addictions. He alone fills the emptiness we are trying to fill when we attempt to hide behind our phones or the bottle of wine. He alone keeps us steadfast.
Jesus is enough. So when we’re tempted to escape in lesser things, we can come to him with this forgiveness prayer.
“Jesus forgive me for running to lesser things. I know I need more of you. Instill in my heart a fire for you alone. Be my greatest addiction. You, Lord, fill me and make me whole. Thank you for freely forgiving me time and time again. In your name I pray, Amen.”
Cultivating forgiveness in our homes starts with us moms. Forgiving ourselves must come first before we are able to extend that forgiveness to others.
Jesus didn’t die the most brutal death so that we can stay entangled in the unforgiveness that we unnecessarily put on ourselves. We don’t need to live captive to these feelings. He calls us to come to him, experience healing, and move forward.
Remember that Jesus’ demonstration on the cross says you are worth dying for. You are worth saving. You are worth forgiving. It’s time we believe it and start living in the freedom of that promise.