“Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.” – Proverbs 29:25
I used to love to dance with my daddy. One of my favorite memories was when he would let me stand on his toes so we could dance around the living room. He taught ballroom dancing in the years before I was born. I remember my mother talking about what an amazing dancer he was. I would watch him float around the living room with my mother as if they were dancing on clouds. Their grace and perfection was beautiful to watch, even to a five year old. When they would finish, he would take my hand, bow to me as I curtsied to him and he would let me stand on the toes of his shoes. He would then proceed to lead me around the living room. I remember feeling like Ginger Rogers as we danced. Suddenly, with little effort of my own, I was now a great dancer like my daddy.
I didn’t know how to be a good mother to my children. I don’t say that with guilt and shame. I know my past is covered in Christ’s blood. But it is indeed a fact I was not a very good mother at all. If you saw my children today as adults you would never know how much I struggled in motherhood. I became pregnant at eighteen and I was nineteen when I had my first child. At the age of twenty-one I had three children two and younger. It wasn’t planned and I certainly was not ready for what was ahead in the next twenty years.
To say life was a rollercoaster doesn’t begin to explain the rocky lives we lived, much due to my own decision making. I would work really hard at being perfect, only to fail and then give up until I mustered the strength to try again. Then there were times when giving up wasn’t enough. In those times I would run away, only to return to try to clean up the mess I’d made. I remember going to church and seeing the other “perfect” families. I spent a lot of time watching the other mothers and how they lived their lives. I believed the lie that I had to measure up to them. I never really fit in. I was so much younger than most of them and all I wanted was to be just like them. I thought they were looking at me, seeing my every flaw, while I could only dream of having the families they had. Having grown up in a less than perfect family, my only good examples were the ones I saw at church.
I really just wanted someone to show me how to be a good mom. But that never happened, and over time I continued to fail miserably. The chaos that ensued from those years weighed heavy on my heart for a very long time. I had been trusted with three amazing lives, and at the time, I believed I’d blown it.
Now, twenty plus years later I find myself in a very familiar place.
There are two little lives, those of my grandchildren that have been entrusted to my care. I didn’t plan this, I didn’t ask for it, but it’s where I am in this season of my life.
In the early days of this season, I battled within my heart about fear of what was to come. I was angry about the situation and felt helpless to change or control the outcome. I began to realize the source of much of my anger: it was rooted in my fear of becoming a mother again. I had already blown it once and now my precious grandchildren could fall victim to my failures. I didn’t tell anyone how I felt, not even my husband. I would have to find a way to deal with this on my own.
During this same time I began walking in a more intimate relationship with God. It wasn’t just a time of accepting Him as my Savior, but a time to grow in my relationship with Him. Only He had the ability and power to change my life so drastically. He began exposing the dark place where fear resided in my heart. Slowly, God began peeling away the shame and guilt I had lived with for so long. It was then I could look back at my past, remember the “old me” and know in every area of my heart that my past is covered in His blood. His Light overtook the darkness and His Truth pushed away the lies.
I soon began to realize I could do nothing on my own. The hardest part was not walking away from my past. The hardest part was to walk into my future, raise my grandchildren and attempt to be a better mother the second time around. This was more difficult because I lacked trust in God. I had lived in fear for so many years I didn’t realize it was keeping me from trusting Him. I believe we can have faith that God can and will do good for others. But sometimes we don’t trust He will do it for us. It was when I laid down my fear and picked up trust, knowing that the true peace of God entered my heart.
I no longer had to know what was ahead, nor did I need to fear the unknown.
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. ” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
What I discovered is that being a good mother requires me to rely on my heavenly Daddy. I am not and cannot be a good mother on my own. I spent years trying to figure it out within myself, only to fail. I don’t know how long I will be in this season. I don’t always have the right answers, but when I fail, God is in control and is made perfect in my weakness. My ability to do what I’m called to is fully dependent on God – and today I’m called to speak in to these two lives.
He is waiting with His outstretched hand. I am going to take His hand, step up on His shoes and let Him lead me in the dance. Just like the little girl who became a beautiful ballroom dancer, I become all I am created to be when I let Him lead.
Jesi Steiber lives in Fort Worth, Texas and is our newest addition to the MPN authors. She is married to a man she describes as “awesome,” who makes her smile every day. They have four children and four grandchildren. A favorite scripture is Ruth 3:11: “Now my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you whatever you ask. For all my people in the city know that you are a woman of excellence.”