By Joy O’Neal
Mamas, we have mastered the art of giving. We give our time, energy and body to our family. There is one person we often forget though and that’s the beautiful yet tired face that stares us back in the mirror each morning. Today, lets talk about giving ourselves something and I’m not talking about getting your nails done, getting a massage or scheduling a much needed night out; although I am a lover of all these things. I am talking about giving yourself grace! Grace to the gap of uncontrollable circumstances.
As mothers, grace is often forgotten amidst the sleepless nights, dirty diapers, mounds of homework, sibling meltdowns, toddler tantrums and empty milk jug corners, can I get an amen? Moms often construct the perfect picture of the Joanna Gaines meets Mrs. Walton moments and find ourselves confused on how they ended up looking more like Rosanne meets Peggy Bundy!
I remember when my two oldest were under the age of three, I painted a perfect picture for Mother’s Day. Sunday after church my husband, kids and I would have a perfect picnic on the beach. I started prepping the food on Saturday, put all the beach toys and umbrella in the car. It was going to go off without a hitch! I would sit on the sand, eat my grapes and look at my cute little babies and sweet husband and feel so celebrated. When church was over my husband mentioned that a storm was coming. Oh, No! Not on my perfect day! I told him it would be fine and we should keep things as planned. When we arrived at the beach the wind picked up and again my husband suggested that maybe going out for some fresh seafood was the better plan. Again, I blew off his suggestion and recommended that sitting in the car a few minutes was all we needed. The storm stayed! Finally, I decided that maybe the wind wouldn’t be so bad once we walked over the dunes and closer to the water. My husband started to gather all of the wonderful things I packed for my perfect day. One thing that’s dangerous about preparing for an entire day is it allows an entire day worth of “maybe we should bring ______?” thoughts! I can still see my husband walking through the thick sand carrying a blanket, two chairs, a bag full of toys and ALL while pulling a giant cooler full of food. Once we got onto the beach and set everything up our children began to scream because the wind blew the sand like tiny pellets from Hell all over them and our food. We packed everything up, trekked back to the car and my Mother’s Day was a complete fail.
My plans were shot! The uncontrollable circumstances where there but where was the grace? Nothing had gone as planned and my day was wrecked!
Now it’s a funny memory but what about the mom moments that aren’t so funny? The ones that keep us up at night—the ones we replay over and over, fishing for how we could change the outcome?
When my youngest was sick for the first time (that she could remember) she laid on the floor and rolled back and forth moaning, “UGH, I didn’t see this day coming!” As to say, had I known I’d been better prepared? Isn’t that all of us? Life throws us curveballs and instead of giving grace to the gap of uncontrollable circumstances we force the picnic against the storm or roll around on the floor wishing we’d known it was coming so we could be better prepared.
I am so thankful that in spite of ourselves we have a God that weathers all storms and DOES hold each day in His loving hands.
Over the last year the phase “Give grace to the gap” has become a bit of a personal tagline. God continually places me inside beautiful collisions that teach me the importance of giving grace to the gap and allowing provision to catch up to the promises He’s spoken over my life.
As a pastors daughter, growing up in church I knew the ending to every story. I knew Rehab and her family were spared, Daniel left untouched, the grave left empty and Jonah’s story didn’t end in the belly of a fish. These spoiler alert moments created a desensitized revelation that clouded an overwhelming truth! Each one of these people had zero clue around their future while they were living in the gap yet their words of faith send my soul swimming in the goodness of God and the beauty of living as a true grace giver inside of the gap of uncontrollable circumstances.
Particularly Jonahs Prayer in Jonah 2:1-9, I listen as Jonah cries out in the depths with praise and certainty that his God will rescue and redeem him. Now that’s a grace giver! The bold declaration of an almost certain faith that his God is already at work in delivering him and in spite of it all he would praise the God he loved so well.
So as moms, what does giving grace to the gap of uncontrollable circumstances look like?
We all have patterns of fighting uncontrollable circumstances. For me, these battles always had signs of my combative approach that were undeniably byproducts of my lack of trust and grace giving.
A life lived without giving grace to ourselves looks a lot like worry, doubt, frustration and weariness. So what does giving grace to the gaps look like? While looking back during times when I was able to give grace to the gap I found some familiar actions that I know are responsible for a positive outcome. Something I now call the 4S approach: Speak, Seek, Sing and Stand.
Thumbing through my journal I can see how I allowed women of faith to speak into my life. I also found that I had a hunger to seek counsel. Additionally, there was a pattern of praise, personal laments to a God who hears my cry. Finally, I stood! I boldly declared His promise over my life and chose to speak the God breath truth into the gap.
I’ve only been in the mom game for 10 years now but I’d much rather stand inside the 4S approach then experience worry, doubt, frustration and weariness.
As moms, I am certain that we will continue to be plagued with uncontrollable circumstances but can I challenge you today to give grace to the gap? Our God is good all the time! He is drawing near, coming as close as a breath, standing shoulder to shoulder and declaring that we are His and He is ours. No weapon of mind, body or spirit formed against us shall prosper. We’ve already been given every ounce of today’s grace, today’s mercies and today’s spiritual bread needed to be courageous and victorious!
Cheers moms! You’ve got this!