Spy Games

Ephesians 2:8-9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast.

The first day of school is a strange concoction of excitement, dread, anticipation and nerves. And that's just the range of emotions a mother feels. The first day of preschool this year fell on my birthday. I deemed this a worthy present and went through the halls singing "Freedom" Aretha Franklin style as less "seasoned" moms wiped tears and attempted to hide their apprehension.

When I picked up Clara (then 4) from her class, I opened with the obligatory, "How was your first day of school, Honey?", question. The words had scarcely dropped out of my mouth before she retorted, "It was terrible, Mom. They have rules...and they expect me to follow them." An independent thinker who is not easily swayed by the crowd, something tells me Clara will have no trouble grasping the theme of Galatians. Those of us who are more intimately familiar with the people pleasing mindset, though, may wrestle with its' broad stroke of unmerited grace.

This morning's reading is Galatians 2. Here Paul chronicles his grace journey and his willingness to battle with anyone who blockades grace's path. Paul was unafraid even of rebuking Peter if it ensured that the gospel would remain untainted by those who piled man's requirement onto God's grace (Verses 11-21).

Paul reported that certain people had infiltrated their ranks to "spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus". Most of us have some area in our life in which it becomes extremely important to us to be deemed "good". You might strive to be a good employee, good child or a good spouse. I can fall prey to any of these but am most susceptible to good mom syndrome.
  • Good moms provide their children with healthy, well-balanced meals and might even make their own baby food.
  • Good moms read the correct child training manuals, purchase the safest possible car seat and generally avoid any activity involving sharp objects.
  • Good moms never raise their voice, always arrive on time if not early and never fail to remember things like share day at school.

At least these are the lies I allow to bounce around in my head every once in a while. For the record, I do try to feed my kids at least one daily serving of fruit and one serving of vegetables. I currently feel pretty proud that Carynne says her favorite food is broccoli. This makes Hannah and Hayleigh wonder if there isn't something wrong with her. Oh and I have never made my own baby food. I'm pretty excited when I remember to feed them. I have never read "Baby Wise" or "Toddler Wise", but I do read the Bible. My toddler children ride in booster seats not car seats...and they only weigh a bit over thirty pounds. I didn't know the right weight rule until I'd already given the other seats away. All four have given a haircut to herself, a sibling, a toy or a pet. I do occasionally raise my voice. I am sometimes late. And last Friday I arrived to Carynne's class and said, "I know I was supposed to bring something today but I have no idea what that was." Pretty much I'm expecting the "Mother of the Year" award to arrive on my doorstep just any day now.

The reason I beat myself up about mothering is that I allow others to spy on my freedom. Freedom in Christ means it's okay if your kids watch an extra hour of television so their mom can spend some quality time with God. It also means that an occasional unplanned haircut is less tragic than a home cut short of love. Most important, it means there isn't one thing I could do as a parent that could make Jesus love me any more than He already does. After all, He's still working on raising me. No doubt it makes Jesus sad, when I measure myself by the extra-Biblical yardstick held by a so-called "perfect" parent.

Thank you, Jesus, for reminding me of how sweet freedom feels draped about my shoulders. Grace is the ultimate security blanket. It is comforting and chocked full of Your love but at the same time absolutely weightless. Today I will remember that Your grace extends to every part of my life...even if I'm late in carpool line.

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