Giving Up the Supermom Struggle
by Hettie Brittz
Supermoms created by society receive the admiration a heroine deserves. It’s all about the individual. But God gives us a different kind of superpower: He gives unique gifts as He sees fit, but never enough for us to be self-sufficient. He takes joy in building communities rather than Lone Rangers; interdependence rather than independence. In His models for marriage, family, and church, He never demands that an individual be the full package. In fact, He clearly warns us that we will never be everything or have it all apart from the “body” to which we belong and that without Him as our “head,” we would wither (Romans 12:5; Ephesians 4:15–16 NIV).
(Super)Natural Motherhood, therefore, is never something you and I can live out all by ourselves. We will need people. We will need examples and mentors and helpers. A (super) Natural Mom will not try to do this alone. Every mom in the testimonies learned to lean on others as she grew from (un) Natural to (super)Natural. Mary stayed with Elizabeth for three months. I believe that is what it took for her to come to terms with her journey.
Giving Up the Improbable Ideal
(Super)Natural Motherhood accommodates needs, mistakes, divorce, remarriage, death, disability, poverty, abuse, childlessness, sexual-identity struggles, addiction, mental illness, and every other form of brokenness that comes with being human. It factors in utter failure and the opportunity to start over, because motherhood is a design that is supposed to reflect God’s heart for us. This experience is not restricted to married moms with a perfect family life! God does not withdraw from brokenness. He does the opposite: He comes the closest to the brokenhearted. So does a (super)Natural Mom.
Let’s look at God as the perfect Mother. This is not blasphemous. He compares himself to a hen and a mother eagle (Matt. 23:37; Ruth 2:12; Deut. 32:11; Ps. 91:4) and talks about nursing us at His breast and comforting us as a mother does her child (Num. 11:12; Ps. 131:2; Isa. 49:15; 66:13). He even calls himself “a woman who’s having a baby” (Isa. 42:14). According to several Bible scholars, His name El Shaddai means “the many breasted One.” He knows what it’s like to mother unwilling children who bite back when you invite them to be nursed. Does He resign as “mother” when His children do this? Hardly! The children of these passages are mostly thankless, unfaithful rebels. Even so, God’s motherly love embraces them in all phases of their walks with Him and toward a variety of outcomes. Some respond, repent, and become his friends. Some harden their hearts and reject Him. Is it because His love lacks something, or is it perhaps because His children do?
If God, the perfect parent, has a disappointing result in many of his children, why do we assume that our families’ disappointments must necessarily point to a deficiency in ourselves?
Giving in to Grace
The Old Testament ends with Malachi’s powerful message from God, which I want to paraphrase, adding what I believe to be behind the significance of these words. God said them and then remained quiet for hundreds of years. Such a dramatic pause must urge us to reflect and ask one another, “What was that last thing He said? It must have been important. Wasn’t it something about parenting?”
Don’t miss this: I’m sending a messenger to pave the way for how the kingdom should really work. He will come to give you a solution that will play a key part in the outcome
of my day of reckoning. This is what will happen if you understand his message: the generations that have been standing with their backs to one another, disconnected and bitter, will be softened up and reconciled. They will turn around and look each other in the face with newfound love and respect. The parents will deem their children a priority, and the children will open teachable hearts toward their parents. Over this bridge from heart to heart, a rich legacy of love for God will be passed from generation to generation. This will be called “blessing,” and
it will cover your land if you pursue it. Godliness has been dropped like a poorly passed-on baton since the days of the kings of Israel. Read their stories again. If parents and children cannot turn their hearts toward one another, the spiritual legacy is lost too. Every generation tries to dust it off, but much is lost. This is called “the curse,” and the proof of it is everywhere in your land. I want to lift this curse, and parenting is key.
Evangelical believers are taught that Christ is enough and that grace will complete the work God has begun in us. In parenting, some authorities seem to add a big “but” to the burden-lifting message of mercy. When we read and listen, we get the message that we can fail elsewhere but not here. We can be forgiven everything except the wrongs we have done to our children. This idea has another devastating outcome: we are told to forgive anyone who hurts us, but there is a cultural tolerance for harboring bitterness toward our parents. It is as though they owed us perfection and we are entitled to resent them for their failures— forever. Is it any wonder that generations are pulled apart by these unrealistic expectations?
It is all about grace. Grace enables us to bend down, pick up the batons— whether we dropped them or our mothers did—and admit the failures that were ours, forgive the ones that weren’t, and look toward the generation that we have written off. We reconnect by grace. Our mothering mistakes still bear down on us. They help us crack. Even that is grace. When we crack in the right way, we fall on grace and become channels of it to our children, our spouses, and other mothers. And the curse will be lifted, not by our striving to be faultless mothers but by the life God will send through our softened hearts.
[Hettie Brittz is a wife, mother, speaker and author. During her travels with her husband Louis’ band, Brittz became fascinated by the various approaches to parenting they encountered around the world. It enlarged her perspective and became the foundation for her first three parenting books. Keep up with Hettie by visiting hettiebrittz.com or following her on Facebook /HettieBrittzAuthor or Twitter @hettiebrittz ]