Motherhood Misery #2: I Didn’t Realize How Hard it is to Love Children

Babies are easy to love. Whining, needy toddlers and teens, not so much. I’m not talking about the commitment part of love. I am talking about loving behavior.

When I struggled with anger and impatience; when I yelled or got tired of child care, I thought I was a bad mom. In reality, daily interaction with little children exposed my sinful nature to me in new ways. When the kids became young adults, it was like starting over. Facing my sinfulness was painful and I was so conflicted. I knew I loved my children deeply; but my attitudes were often far from loving. It was such a mystery to me.

That’s because what I thought was a need for better mothering skills, was actually a need for Christ. Sure, I was already born again, but I didn’t truly understand that only God’s grace could free me to love my children well. In fact, I never called myself a “sinner.” I was taught to call myself an “overcomer” in defiance of my sinful nature. This was not helpful for me. In Christ, we certainly possess power to overcome sin, but it’s a daily war.

I wish I had known that war was normal. I wish I had given myself more time to  learn, mature and adapt to the various seasons of motherhood. I grieved terribly when I lost my cool with my kids, and so I should have. But children test our patience and they do get on our nerves. Even the most loving moms have children who rebel and resist. That’s because children are sinners too. Our ability to love other sinners is born out of a relationship with a loving God. Gentleness, meekness, patience….the fruit of the Spirit….it’s a God thing. It’s not a mothering thing.

Knowing that loving children doesn’t come naturally prevents us from the misery of self-effort. It frees us to receive strength from God to grow in love, and forgiveness from God whenever we fail.  And it reminds us that love is a gift. None of us are born knowing how to love. Moms are not intrinsically loving people. God shows us how to love in the glorious ways he offers kindness, patience, and gentleness toward us.

So don’t feel miserable if you fight sinful attitudes when the boys track mud in the house; or when the baby bites your boob on purpose; or when your daughter ignores your curfew. You’re in a war with sin, not with your kids or with motherhood.

I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power[b] within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. – Romans 7.21-25 NLT

View from the Top: This Mother’s Day gift of loving messages from my children is evidence that in spite of our failings, our children grow up to love us deeply.

View from the Top:This Mother’s Day gift of loving messages from my children is evidence that in spite of our failings, our children grow up to love us deeply. Their messages below:

Mom School Framed Messages

  • You take extremely great care of me and you have, and will always be there for me.
  • You let me hug you, even though your primary love language isn’t physical touch!
  • You pick up the phone when I call every day.
  • You like clothes just as much as I do!
  • You always support me no matter how bad my situation is!
  • While you do give advice, you never try to control the path I choose to take in life.
  • Your heart to serve others is amazing!
  • You have a gorgeous smile.
  • You’ve alwasy been so supportive.
  • You have a great sense of humor.
  • U Da Bomb Dot Com!
  • You are so talented.
  • You love the Lord with all your heart.
  • You truly care for and about me and my feelings.
  • You take care of me when I’m sick.
  • You teach me wrong from right.
  • You love me.

Praise be to God!

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