Jen’s fiery red hair matches her fiery love for Jesus which both made her the perfect fit for her former profession as an elementary teacher before staying home to raise great kids. This made her the obvious candidate to call when I needed someone to break down the truth of motherhood into bite-sized pieces “even a child could understand”. Also known as a tired mom-brain.
At the time, I had an infant and energetic toddler and no parents or in-laws nearby, so it was easy to feel like I was failing at this mom thing most days. I think we have all felt confused and not good enough at times. In fact, when I stumbled upon the post by mom, Alee Zering I was shouting, “Amen” at my screen. She says,
”Mom-ing is hard when breastfeeding in public is offensive but formula feeding is frowned upon. When co-sleeping is dangerous but rocking your baby to sleep is wrong, when sleep training means you don’t love your baby but not having your kid on a schedule means you have no control of your kid, when putting your child in a bouncer/walker is detrimental to their development but holding them too much is spoiling them, when being a stay at home Mom means you’ve given up your career/dreams but putting them in childcare and going back to work means you’re going to miss out on all of the important things, when getting kids their shots is injecting them with poison but if you don’t you’re endangering the world, when you’re trying to be confident in your motherhood but everyone wants to tell you that you’re doing it wrong.”
The post was the backdrop for the simple question I had for Jen as I sobbed over the phone.
“With so many decisions and responsibilities, with every child so different, what is the “right” way to do this motherhood thing?”
As I replayed what I viewed as my mom-failures that day, Jen just listened with such compassion. Her sincere response was direct and sweet while reciting 2 Timothy 1:7.
For God has not given us a spirit of cowardice, but of power, and of love, and of self-control. 2 Timothy 1:7 BLB
Like the energy jolt from a defibrillator set on the human heart on the cardiac table, that verse shocked mine equally as deep -- I still recall her exhortation in my parenting today.
We already have what we think we need.
You and I are perfectly equipped to raise the children God hand picked for us because of 2 Timothy 1:7.
Theologians and scholars mostly agree that this verse is not talking about being given the Holy Spirit. Rather, the Holy Spirit gives you the character or nature or “spirit of” exactly what Paul lists; love, boldness, self-control, a calm and sound mind. When we accepted the free gift of the Holy Spirit indwelling us by acknowledging God as God and our need for Him, we were gifted the fruit or attributes of the Holy Spirit right then. Paul was reminding Timothy specifically of what he already had; the temperament the Holy Spirit gives us and highlighting some of those attributes. A mom indwelled with the Holy Spirit has a spirit of power or temperament that allows her to never lose sight of her objective in the midst of the struggle.
Just like Paul to frail Timothy, Jen deposited in me the kind of mom I already was because of the Holy Spirit. Let’s break Paul’s list down into the three attributes the Holy Spirit equips us as Christian Moms with to be confident we can do this “motherhood thing” well:
In many other books Paul writes, he includes love whenever he discusses power. I appreciate the Pulpit Commentary’s take on this saying, “Love is added [by Paul], as showing that the servant of Christ always uses power in conjunction with love, and only as the means of executing what love requires.” We love our children, but we need the strength to parent them because it is hard work. When we parent from that love we have power and vice versa.
We need tenacity, strength, and “power” to accomplish the task of parenting. But parenting from love gives us supernatural motivation and steadfastness. And, the Holy Spirit indwelling us is where we draw our strength to have both.
Lastly, God has given us a spirit of self-discipline, better translated “discipline” or “correction”. Timothy needed to be reminded that he was 1) fully equipped to 2) boldly proclaim God’s truth to people who 3) didn’t want to listen and needed correction.
Now, let's read this verse and interpretation in light of being a Christian mom.
You and I are empowered through Jesus Christ, by God’s grace, and by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we’ve accepted, to parent without the insecurity of fear. When things seem impossible, our courage has an opportunity to shine. When the day rages, we can focus on what God has called us to in being a parent. When we struggle, we can be confident of the purpose we were given when given a child and be confident of the ability He’s graced us with because of it. Love is not separate from power and that love propels our self-controlled reactions; to speak rightly, honor others, and withhold when our patience has reached its limit. Lastly, we have the most unique and loving relationship as the context to correct and train hearts that absolutely need this instruction and understand it's from a place of our love for their well-being.
Jen was reminding me that by His grace, you and I as Christian parents already have everything we need to parent well. Even in our failures our perceived failures, or our successes in parenting, His grace and provision are sufficient. Simply amazing.