by Aimee Byrd
Christian mom. These two words sound delightful until you are actually faced with the challenge to live out the implications of your faith as a mother. Kimm Crandall describes the burden that we put on ourselves and other mothers as a whopping, imaginary manual of the do’s and don’ts of motherhood:
Sadly, I know I’m not the only mother who has felt the oppressive weight of Christian duty as it is so often and so falsely portrayed. Read your Bible, pray, dress this way, speak that way, and all your dreams will come true. God will be happy and so will you. Your kids will be a blessing and never rebel. You will never trip on your walk with God…unless, of course, you neglect your daily quiet times (16).
Sound familiar? Well, Kimm Crandall wrote to urge us to leave these ideas behind us. She has something way messier, and way more beautiful to offer us—grace. A Christian mom doesn’t have it all together. Neither do her kids. It’s okay. The message of the gospel assures us that God loves us anyway, and he is faithful in his promise to make us holy in Christ. And if we are deluding ourselves into thinking that we can perform our way into the Christian mom hall of fame, we are sinfully relying on a self-righteousness that cannot save.
Crandall believes this so much that she lays out the ugly truth about her own absolute parenting failures. I remember in one of the first stories she shares; she describes a mom who shamed her daughter after being injured at a horseback-riding lesson. I was thinking to myself, “This is so generic, she’s trying to make up an extreme case that usually never happens.” Then Crandall admits that she was the mom. Oh. I realized how judgmental I was being, kind of like the way she described herself. Well played.
In the quest to be the best godly mother for her kids (and all who may be watching), Kimm Crandall reached a pit of deep depression and despair, questioning her own beliefs about God. This process of doubt actually opened the author’s eyes to the pure message of the gospel. She had nothing to prove. God had placed his love on her in Christ as the mess that she was. This realization of the radical grace of God led her to stop punishing herself and start serving God in gratitude.
This doesn’t mean that Crandall then became the perfect model of Christian motherhood. It means that it doesn’t exist. She is a sinner in need of grace. Knowing this helps her to turn to the Lord in repentance and rest in his work when she steps in a puddle of pee at midnight and says something she regrets in a not-so-friendly tone. This is what she tells us it comes down to: “We must trade in our performance obsession—which is really a sin obsession—for a Savior obsession” (65). Amen to that.
This kind of grace scares people. First, they have to give up all of their own goodness. Sure, it’s a painful blow to our pride to see our own goodness as filthy rags (Isa. 64:6). And second, they are afraid that preaching this kind of radical grace will encourage people to sin. Kimm Crandall rightly tells us that the opposite is the case.
God calls us to live out our holiness, not by relying on our performance—trying harder and working feverishly to produce our own good works—but by walking in the holiness we already possess through the Holy Spirit…What spiritual growth actually comes down to, then, is getting used to the implications of your salvation, and this is a mysterious thing indeed (80).
The implications of this are huge. If we truly trust in Christ’s work to save and to sanctify, if we really believe God’s promises, then we can be honest and open about our struggles. We can also offer grace and gospel encouragement to other struggling moms instead of condemnation. We can stop comparing ourselves to one another, and look to Christ alone. We can face our sin and ask forgiveness. Crandall challenges us as sisters in Christ to speak the indicatives of the gospel message to one another. The imperative isn’t to “do better.” Because of all that our Lord has done for us, we can now finally serve him with confidence that he will bless our efforts. We can love our children knowing that it is the Holy Spirit that works on their heart. As I like to remind myself daily (out of necessity), I don’t run the world, God does. Goodbye imaginary manual.
Christ in the Chaos (Cruciform Press, 2013) Buy on Amazon
Visit Authors Site: Christ in the Chaos
Aimee Byrd has discovered that “What do you want to be when you grow up?” is a bit of a trick question. But she is enjoying all the avenues of discovery along the way. She has gone from a coffee cafe entrepreneur to a writer, both professions providing fuel for the thinkers of today. Aimee writes regularly on her blog, www.housewifetheologian.com, and is the author of Housewife Theologian (P&R, 2013). She lives in Martinsburg, WV in her favorite role as wife and mother. Aimee’s husband, Matt, and three kiddos give her much grace as she tries to pull the whole thing off. Thankfully, she has been sought by a Savior whose accomplishments are accounted to her as her own. Follow Aimee on Twitter @aimeebyrdhwt.
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