Mothering In The Midst of Failure

by Liz Wann March 3, 2021

In the early stages of my third pregnancy, I was fighting daily nausea and fatigue. Every afternoon I would sit my boys down with snacks and a show and tell them not to bother me as I slept. A few times I would wake up to my toddler jumping on me. One of these times I yelled at him. He cried and reached his arms out for me to hold him. I held him and told him, “I’m sorry. What mama did was wrong. Please forgive me.”

I wish this was the only time I’ve ever yelled at my children, but it’s not. I wish I’ve never had to see the hurt in their eyes or the disappointment etched on their faces when I’m sinning. But I’ve told both of my sons, many times, that mama is a sinner like them and that only Jesus is without sin.

The cross makes everyone level: all are failures before him. We all fall short and yet God chose us.

Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:26-31).

God didn’t choose us because we never fail: he chose us because he never fails. He is good, kind, loving, and merciful, and that is why he saved us. So we don’t boast in ourselves, but we boast in him. The cross of Christ levels us and ultimately declares us all failures. But Jesus came to not fail in our place. And as he breathed his final breath, and then breathed a new resurrected one, his failure-free life became our own.

So, now we can parent in the midst of failures knowing we are fully known by God and accepted fully through Christ. We can take our burdens of guilt to him, ask for his forgiveness, and ask the Spirit to help us change. After that there is no condemnation (Romans 8:1). We can even come to him again and again with our failures, knowing that his mercy and grace never run dry.

Our failures are just another opportunity to boast in the Lord. As a mom, I can use my failures of anger and impatience to point my children to one who is perfect for them; one who will never fail them, because he died for them. Jesus is my children’s ultimate hope in this life. Though I am his representative to them, I’m an imperfect one. So my prayer is that my children will see me for who I really am and look to Christ as one who is greater. I can tell them that he is the one who nailed my failures to a tree and can do the same for them.

Not only are our failures meant to throw us at the feet of the failure-free Savior, but they are being used in our lives for our good and his glory. God uses our failures to show that he is strong, and he uses them to humble us.

But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6).

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you (1 Peter 5:6).

As moms, we can confidently admit our weakness instead of hiding who we are, because of the grace of God. After all, grace is made available to the humble. Until we recognize we’re needy, we won’t see our need for grace.

Jesus even said,

Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners (Mark 2:17).

Jesus came to earth to rescue sinful mothers in need of grace. If we think we are healthy enough on our own, then we spurn his grace and don’t live in the reality of who we are now, in and through Christ. If we want the power of Christ to rest upon our mothering, we must boast in him alone. God wants to work in us as much as he does in our children. He puts us in the daily grind of motherhood so that he can purify us and enable us to parent our children better. He wants us to see and confess our sin towards our children, so we can be a real-life example to them of what a true follower of Christ is. A true follower of Christ doesn’t have it all together and is not a star parent. A true follower of Christ walks humbly with God (Micah 6:8).

Our failures as moms can bring glory to God and can be for our benefit if we do the right thing with them. If we don’t hide our failings or cover them up, but instead draw attention to them, so that we can rightly cast them off. This way, we and our children can know these failings are wrong and not part of the life of a believer. It’s helping us, it’s helping our children, and it’s bringing glory to God by showing his greatness and imperfection towards his own children. He is glorified in our humility because it shows off who he really is—the only sinless one.

Editor’s Note: This is an extract from The End of Me by Liz Wann, which helps moms find resurrection life in the daily sacrifices of motherhood. This short, easy-to-read book encourages mothers to depend on Christ when they reach their limit. The book will be available in March 2021 on The Good Book Company websiteAmazon, and wherever books are sold.