Since becoming a stay-at-home-mom I have discovered a lot about myself. I’ve learned some good things, but also a few not so good things, or, as described in “mommy” vocabulary, “yucky” things.
Without fail, one of those “yucky” things continually rises to the surface as I interact with my kids. I am guilty of something I’ve labeled – pharisaic tendencies. When you hear the term “pharisaic,” right away you think of the biblical religious leaders who lived to abide by the law—at any cost. So strict in observing the law, they lived a lifeless religion instead of a thriving relationship with God.
My pharisaic mindset lends itself more to the practical areas in my life. Daily, I attempt to live up to practical, or should I say impractical, “laws” I have set up for myself. Sadly, when those unrealistic standards go unmet, I experience “death” as well—a deathly toll on my emotions, my thoughts, and my relationships. Every time I fall short of those expectations, my inner-Pharisee creeps up and declares I’m a failure, I’m a disappointment, I’m a horrible wife, mom, et cetera.
Deep down, as a mom I have an unrealistic longing to be “the perfect mom.”
My son must appear clean and put together at all times. His appearance is a reflection of me as his parent.
Has it been a long time since the last diaper change? Oh No! Unacceptable!
Dishes piled up in the sink? I’m a stay-at-home for crying out loud! Inexcusable!
Can you guess the results after SUCCESSFULLY meeting these self-made “laws”?
A weary, burned out, frustrated Natalie.
Can you guess the results after FAILING to meet these “laws”?
A weary, burned out, frustrated Natalie.
I yield the SAME RESULTS in both scenarios!
When referring to the law, the apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “…the code [of the Law] kills…” (2 Cor. 3:6, AMP).
I could not have said it better!
The code of the “Practical Laws of Natalie” KILLS!!!
Unfortunately, I’ve spent countless years trying to live up to this code.
As a young girl, I strove to be the best academically and, if I did not meet a certain standard, I really beat myself up about it. A score of 92 on an exam did not cut it—what happened to scoring 100?
As a wife, I gotta always be one step ahead with cleaning, maintaining the budget, paying the bills, and I must financially SAVE, SAVE, SAVE, even if it means absolutely NO FUN AT ALL. Hey, I have to maintain those “LAWS” at ANY COST, right?
Even, when I miscarried during our first pregnancy, this “code” killed me. The thought that I failed and disappointed my husband and my family haunted me. I expected to successfully carry the baby to full term and give birth to a healthy child. But, when it didn’t happen, the reality of a FAILED pregnancy crushed me. So infuriated with myself, I could not even stand to be alone.
Quiet moments became tormenting moments, as anxious and unsettled thoughts flooded my mind.
Months of counseling led me to realize how angry I was at myself for not meeting everyone’s expectation. Spending time alone often left me wearied, burned out, and frustrated.
Staying at home has allowed me to discover these things about myself, but this season has also allowed me to discover (and re-discover) some things about God as well.
One thing I have re-discovered is the supernatural rest God gives, and how His rest releases me from all my self-imposed “laws.”
You know the well-known verse, where Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest”? Well, I love the way the Message version puts it:
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly” (Matthew 11:28-30).
I love that! I want to learn the unforced rhythms of God’s grace. I want to live under His Grace, not under My Law, or My Way. I want to keep company with Him and learn to live freely and lightly, instead of walking around with heavy expectations that leave me feeling angry, depressed, and tired.
Are you like me with your self-made laws or unrealistic expectations? Are you weary, burned out, and frustrated, wearing yourself thin trying to live up to those things? Have you labeled yourself a failure, a horrible __________ (you fill in the blank)?
Today I encourage you to go to Jesus. Get away with Him. Let Him show you how to take a real rest. Let the unforced rhythms of His Grace overtake you. You won’t regret it!