In high school and college, I auditioned for and was accepted into various choirs. I have a good voice, though there are plenty of people whose voices are better than mine. But one area in which I excel is my ability to hear when a singer is on pitch.
Which, of course, means that I also know when someone isn't on pitch. 10-year-old Lindsey is the one of my children who seems to have inherited my ability to detect tiny variations from what the pitch should be. So when she and I were watching a televised singer recently, we spent the first couple of minutes cringing at almost every note.
"I guess you don't have to be a good singer to be famous," Lindsey said, after we had hit the "mute" button. "You just have to be hot."
She was right, in a way. The most famous singers are not always the best singers. In other words, you don't always have to be good at your job to be successful.
Which got me to thinking: What does it take to be a successful mom? Does it require perfection? Can you be a "good mom" while still having faults others might notice?
Let's be real for a moment. You (if you're like most moms) and I are experts at identifying our real or perceived faults and feeling guilty for them. We hesitate to call ourselves "good moms" because we're all too aware of the things we do wrong daily, and sometimes minute by minute. If someone were to ask us if we're good moms, we would probably reply something like, "Well ... I hope so."
My fellow sister in Christ and companion on this amazing, crazy journey called motherhood, let me tell you something: God does not want us to live with the discouragement and uncertainty of wondering whether or not we're good moms. He's told us exactly what it takes to be "good."
Hear His words: "He has told you, O [mom], what [constitutes] good—and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" (Mic. 6:8.)
Go back and read those words again, maybe even more than once. Let them soak into your soul. Hear what He's saying and what He's not saying.
"Do what is right. Love kindness. Walk humbly with Me."
Let's look at those one by one:
"Do what is right." In other words, like we tell our children, "Behave yourself." Simple. (Not always easy, but always simple.)
"Love kindness." The Hebrew word used there is hesed. It has to do with loving people unconditionally no matter what they do. Sound like something we need to practice every day with our children?
"Walk humbly with your God." We all know what this means. We know when a child is humble towards us and when he or she isn't. Thus (humble) we are to be toward God.
Now that we've looked at those, let me paraphrase Mic. 6:8: "He has told you, O mom, what it takes to be a good mom. All you have to do is behave yourself, love your kids no matter what and make sure your heart is submissive toward God."
That's it. Just those three things. No mention of hand-sewn anything, good looks, creativity, a spotless house or any of the myriad other things we make ourselves feel guilty for not accomplishing. It's fine to excel at these things, but none of them makes you a good mom.
True, God may direct us to do these things as part of His plan for us and our family, but they are not what makes us good moms. Submission to His will is part of what makes us good moms.
So the next time you're wondering if you're any good at this mom thing, don't look at any of your abilities. Look instead at your heart.
Are you behaving yourself? Do you love your children unconditionally and forever? Is your heart humble toward God?
If so, you're good. You're a good mom. Rest in that.
"He has told you, O man, what is good—and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" (Mic. 6:8).
Adapted from Megan Breedlove's blog, Manna for Moms. Megan is the author of Well Done, Good and Faithful Mommy and Manna for Moms: God's Provision for Your Hair-Raising, Miracle-Filled Mothering Adventure (Regal Books.) She is also a stay-at-home mom with five children.
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