By LESLIE LUDY
If you have ever felt the pressure of motherhood perfectionism, it’s easy to scoff at Proverbs 31 and reason, “I’ll become the Proverbs 31 woman just as soon as I get all those Proverbs 31 servant girls!” or “When does this woman ever sleep? She never has time for herself! It’s totally unrealistic to live that way, and I’m not even going to try.”
But I have discovered that there is a big difference between the world’s pressure toward motherhood perfectionism and God’s pattern for motherhood excellence. One is based on human strength; the other is supernaturally enabled. One is based on people-pleasing; the other flows from a personal relationship with the King of all kings
If you are feeling pressure or condemnation in your motherhood role, remember that the solution is not to swing in the opposite direct and embrace mediocrity. Rather, the solution comes from shifting our focus from the world’s pattern to God’s, and trusting Him to equip and enable us to fulfill the sacred calling that He has placed upon our lives.
Let’s take a look at the difference between motherhood perfectionism and God’s pattern for Christ-enabled mothering.
motherhood perfectionism vs. god’s pattern
Perfectionism says: You need to impress everyone with your children’s impeccable behavior, your dazzling home management skills, and your flawless family life.
The result: Frazzled, exhausted women who are feverishly trying to build up their social media fans and Pinterest followings in order to show everyone that they are amazing moms and homemakers. Women who spend more time blogging about motherhood and posting photos of their family on Instagram than actually being moms in real life because they are trying to “prove something” the world.
Christ-enabled mothering says: Stop trying to impress other people and live instead for the applause of Heaven. His opinion is the only one that really matters. As Paul summarizes in Galatians 1:10: “For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.”
The result: A happy, peaceful mom who is not striving to impress others or win God’s approval through perfectionism. Rather, she simply trusts Him with child-like faith, loves Him with all her heart, and everything she does flows out of her personal love-relationship with Him.
Perfectionism says: It’s all up to you! You need to figure out how to become the godly, hospitable, nurturing, frugal, healthy, disciplined, organized, giving, creative mother that God wants you to be. If Proverbs 31 is the picture of a truly godly mother — you better get your act together, and quick!
The result: Burned-out women who scoff at Proverbs 31 and decide they are not even going to try anymore. They are tired of hearing about all the ways they just don’t measure up. They would rather celebrate chaos and excuse defeat than kill themselves trying to attain an impossible standard.
Christ-enabled mothering says: The only way to truly become a godly woman is to stop trying to perfect, and instead become completely dependent upon the only One who is. We must lean wholly upon the grace of God for this high calling — believing that what He calls us to, He equips us for. By His strength, we can live lives that would otherwise be impossible, and we can do it without exhaustion and burn-out. Why? Because it is no longer we who live, but Christ who lives in us. Galatians 2:20 summarizes this principle:
“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and
gave Himself up for me.”
Oswald Chambers beautifully expressed the difference between human perfectionism and Christ-enabled excellence with his statement: “We are to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect, not by struggle and effort, but by the impartation of that which is Perfect.”
By the enabling grace of God, we can be set free from the unhealthy pressure of human perfectionism while embracing and pursuing His pattern for excellence in our motherhood role! I have found that there are always new areas of motherhood in which He is challenging me to rise up to a higher standard and pursue greater levels of excellence. But rather than feeling overwhelmed by the things that need improvement, I must simply rely on His strength to do in and through me what I could never do on my own. And when I fall short, He doesn’t condemn me. Rather, like a patient Father teaching his toddler how to walk, He gently reaches out His hand to steady me, strengthen me, and give me the encouragement and hope that I need to try again.
Hudson Taylor said, “God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supply.” If you feel exhausted or frazzled in your motherhood role, chances are you are leaning a lot on your own efforts and abilities rather than letting the grace of God enable you to do the work He has called you to. Remember, grace is more than the merciful hug of God; it’s the enabling strength to live the victorious life He has called us to live. This applies to the calling of Christian motherhood. Don’t try to muster up the willpower or energy to be a better mom. Rather, take each area that you are struggling with, lay it at Jesus’ feet, and ask Him to pour His grace over that area of your life, so that you can rise up to a higher standard in His strength and not your own. 1 Peter 4:11 says “ If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies.” Godly motherhood is truly a ministry and calling from God. May we never forget that God supplies the ability to carry out His calling upon our lives when we look to Him and not ourselves.
P.S. If you want to know more about the amazing, life-giving power of Christ-enabled marriage and motherhood, I invite you to join me this October 23-25 for my Marriage and Motherhood Retreat at the Ellerslie Campus in Colorado. It’s a refreshing, encouraging, and biblically-rich weekend that has the potential to take your family life from surviving to thriving. Hope to see you there! Learn more and register here.