Mothering is wonderfully breathtaking. Stepping back and looking in, I see there is beauty, joy and indescribable love in being a parent; but, there is also heartache, anger, and confusion. Being a mother will show you just how much you need strength, because being a mother exposes just how weak you really are. The energy and strength to care for children only comes from the Holy Spirit. Your love (alone) for your children won't be strong enough, your desire (alone) to be a good mom won't be strong enough, your desire (alone) to raise children who love Jesus won't be strong enough.

I believe that Paul’s prayer (above) is perfect for parenting. We feel like we merely pray for strength to get through the day. But, Paul prays that we will be able to understand that God's love is all encompassing—it is more than just a tool I need in my tool belt to “get through the day.” It’s the very foundation (and the only foundation) I can stand on to do what it is that is set before me: be a parent. The love of God is the biggest, the strongest and the fullest love we will ever know. Paul prays this prayer for the congregations in Ephesians, but it’s also for us today. Paul prays because, apart from the presence of the Holy Spirit to reveal to us just how much God loves us, there is no way in and of ourselves to understand how incredible His love is. His love surpasses what our brains can understand.

So, what gives you the strength to live every day with another sinner?

Knowing that despite the reality that you are a sinner and an enemy and hater of God, that you are loved and declared—apart from your works—to be a beloved lover and daughter of God. Knowing this truth—revealed to us by the power of the Holy Spirit—is the foundation for the strength we need to enter into the daunting task of being a mom and to live with our children, sinners just like we are.

“We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). We forgive because we have first been forgiven. When we fail, we are forgiven, so too with our children: when they fail, they can be forgiven by us because we have first been forgiven. But it doesn’t stop with us forgiving them. We too, can seek forgiveness from them for our wrongs. God’s two words level the playing field; there is no one too big to ask for forgiveness and no one too small to grant it.

In remembering the truth about God's amazing power and love for us, we can cease trying to control and manipulate our kids for our benefit. We can step back and rest in the truth that it is He who fulfills all in all and not us. We are freed, by this truth, to love our children boldly, without making it about us. And when we fail at loving our children, and we will, we must return again to the truth of the Gospel: we are loved despite our performance and we, by faith alone, have the full righteousness of Jesus Christ; in this and this alone we have both our rest and our strength to be mothers.