They held up their dirty feet, clumsily resting them in my hands. My hand, draped in a white washcloth, gently moved from toe to heel and back again, removing a morning spent outside with no shoes. Giggles escaped from their mouths as I couldn’t resist the urge to tickle their toes. There I was, their mother, their teacher, washing their feet. And as I scrubbed their filthy little feet, I was overwhelmed with gratitude. I am grateful for the ways motherhood has changed me, for piles of dirty laundry and a crumb-covered kitchen floor. I am grateful that motherhood points me to Jesus, a Savior who came down to live in our daily, ordinary, filthy human world. I am grateful for a Savior who knelt down and washed the feet of those beneath Him, those He came to serve.
Yes, motherhood has changed me. Jesus has used these two little people and the third squirming around in my belly to grow me in unspeakable ways. Motherhood has humbled me. Motherhood has forced me to relinquish my plans for the needs and demands of others. But if I could only write about one way that motherhood has changed me, I would have to write about grace.
I am a recovering perfectionist. I am the person who doesn’t want to answer a simple question for fear of being wrong. I do not easily forgive myself for mistakes I’ve made. I am often tempted to determine the success of my day by the number of checkmarks made on a list. And let me tell you, the business of motherhood is no place for perfectionism. I realized this pretty early on, as I watched perfectionism threaten to steal my joy and self-worth. I learned that “mommy guilt” was a real and serious problem, one I couldn’t seem to fix on my own. And no matter how hard I tried, I sometimes still grew impatient with my daughter because I was hungry or hot or tired.
Then one Sunday morning, we sang a song in church. A simple song, a song I knew quite well, but a song that suddenly took on new meaning and quickly became my anthem of motherhood. The song is entitled “Lord, I Need You,” and that day the first two verses served as a soothing balm for my perfectionism-trampled heart, while the chorus became a desperate prayer.
Lord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You're the One that guides my heart
Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You
Where sin runs deep Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
And where You are, Lord, I am free
Holiness is Christ in me
Sunday was Mother’s Day, a day we celebrate our mothers, all they have done for us and all they have taught us. But, on Monday morning, as I scrubbed the feet of a four-year-old and a two-year-old, I realized that Mother’s Day is so much more than that. It is a day to celebrate all of the ways Jesus has used motherhood to transform our hearts and lives. A day to celebrate all of the ways motherhood has made us more like Jesus, the ways it has taught us to kneel down and clean filthy feet. I cannot be holy or perfect, but holiness is Christ in me. I am a human, wrestling with sin and guilt, but His grace is more.
I pray that I can rise each day and celebrate these little people that made me a mama. That even in the midst of difficult days and challenging seasons, even when my current pregnancy feels hard and long, that I can be grateful. Grateful that in our ordinary moments, Jesus is here, reminding me that grace abounds.