Are you tired? Worn out?
These are just two of the questions Jesus asks you and me in Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG).
And without hesitation we answer, “Yes. Yes Lord, I am tired and I am worn out. I’m sick of feeling guilty all the time because I keep messing up and letting my kids down. I’m sad about the tension in my relationship with my kids. I’m overwhelmed by all that I am facing alongside my kids. Yes Lord, I am tired and worn out.”
And yet, even before we respond, we can be assured He already knows our answer. He already knows how we feel. He sees not just our outward battles but our inward struggles. He knows how much we love our kids and want to get it right for them, and how guilty we feel when we get it wrong. He knows how much we worry about them and how heavy our hearts are for them when they face hardships.
But here is what I find to be even more wonderful than His “knowing.” When we answer, “Yes I’m worn out,” Jesus doesn’t respond by merely giving us a pep-talk, or worse, a lecture.
Instead, He tenderly invites:
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 MSG)
Freely and lightly. Doesn’t just the very idea of living “freely and lightly” make you take a long deep breath of relief?
But just as the relief of that invitation begins to settle in your soul, the merciless critic in your head whispers “Come on. Seriously? There is just no way you can live freely and lightly in this season of parenting. Freely and lightly might be for other moms who are under far less pressure than you, but keep it real. It’s not for you, not right now. There are meals to cook. Bottoms to wipe. College applications to complete. Schedules to coordinate. Carpools to run. Hugs to give. Appointments to make. Games to watch. iPhones to check. And that’s just the easy stuff. “
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If those thoughts crossed your mind, I get it. I really do. But, Jesus never invites us into anything He does not make good on. He is a promise keeper through and through. And Jesus is inviting us to parent freely and lightly, amidst the pressure.
He wants to show us how to take a “real rest” as we “keep company with Him” and learn His “unforced rhythms of grace.” The real rest that Jesus is talking about here isn’t simply a good long nap while the kids are at school or off at Grandma’s for the weekend. Although I do love that!!! And it’s not a rest in which you simply clear the kid’s calendar and cancel all your plans. Although sometimes, I love that too!!
The kind of rest Jesus offers is much more profound. It’s one where our soul is at rest in the midst of motherhood. And it happens to the extent that we lean on Jesus in a real way. When we keep company with Christ, we will—we can’t not be—strengthened and changed from the inside out (Romans 12:2).
AND ARE YOU READY FOR THE BEST NEWS?
To parent in the “unforced rhythms of grace” that Jesus speaks of is to accept that our children’s hearts are not wholly dependent on our performance as a parent. It means to accept that what we get right and what we get wrong is not what will ultimately determine who our children will become! God has the final word.
We have been set free from being perfect for our children. Jesus has already accomplished a perfection – and a perfect plan – that we can rest in.
And if all this Good News weren’t enough, God has given us His Spirit to strengthen us and help us be more of who we want to be for our kids. He is ready and eager to help us.
I may not know what problems and pain you carry, but I do know we are all going through something. And I know Jesus doesn’t want us to go through it in our own strength. Or without the hope of His steadfast promises.
So as you think about 2018, and dream about the kind of mom you long to be for your kids, be reminded that God can do immeasurably more than you could ever ask for or imagine. (Eph. 3:20) And He is not through with you – or your kids – yet! Not even close.
What are the things weighing heavy on your heart for your kids?
What do you long for relief from?
What is stealing your joy?
Friend, it is for FREEDOM that Christ has set us free. (Galatians 5:1) If there was ever a time for us to start living in this freedom, and parenting in the assurance of God’s sovereignty and grace, it is now!
So will you join me in making 2018 the year that you REALLY experience and enjoy the “freely and lightly” invitation of God in your parenting? I wouldn’t consider this our new year’s resolution but rather our new year’s prayer.
I hope this prayer empowers you to parent freely and lightly in the year ahead!
Heavenly Father . . .
You are beautiful.
You are faithful and powerful and kind and compassionate and good.
You are everything we need and everything our hearts long for.
You are sovereign and full of grace.
So we boldly come before you now and ask that You would help us:
Believe we are Your beloved and help us overcome our unbelief.
Believe what You say over what we see.
Live by faith, not by sight.
Remember Your faithfulness in the past as we face the uncertainty of the future.
Desire the assurance of Your presence more than just answers to our questions.
Lay down all that You have not asked us to carry so we can thrive in what You have.
Trust Your sovereignty over our significance in the lives of our children.
Make the Good News of Jesus—not the good behavior of our children—the foundation on which we build.
Stop trying so hard and start enjoying the children You have entrusted to us more.
Rely on the Holy Spirit to produce the fruit of the Spirit in our kid’s lives.
Be a reflection of Your heart and a vessel of Your love.
Lord, we want to parent with wonder over worry, faith over fear, connection
over control, joy over anger, humility over pride, grace over guilt, and love over shame. And by the power of your Holy Spirit within us, we know we can have what we long for.
Lord, help us impress upon our children a love for You that is anchored in
Your love for them. Lord, more than anything else, we want to nurture in our children a sincere longing to know You, trust You, follow You, serve You, and love You—the only One who has always been and will always be their Perfect Parent and Sovereign Savior.
We love you. We thank you. We praise and adore you.
In your beautiful and wonderful and powerful name we pray,
Now read this: How to set the right goals for a stronger family
This post originally appeared on JeannieCunnion.com and was republished with permission.
Jeannie Cunnion is the author of Parenting the Wholehearted Child and Mom Set Free, and a frequent speaker at women’s conferences and parenting events around the country. Her passion is encouraging women to live in the freedom for which Christ has set us free – a message her own heart needs to be reminded of daily. Jeannie and her husband Mike have four boys who range from teenager to toddler.