|Publisher:||BroadStreet Publishing Group, LLC|
|Product dimensions:||4.60(w) x 6.60(h) x 0.70(d)|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
By Maggie Combs
BroadStreet Publishing Group, LLCCopyright © 2017 Maggie Combs
All rights reserved.
Embracing Imperfection: Step 1 - Give Up on Measuring Up
have you ever met a supermommy? Her baby sleeps soundly, nurses happily, and meets every milestone ahead of schedule. She tosses her perfectly wavy hair over her shoulder as she tidies her already sparkling house with nontoxic, organic soaps while her sweet cherub plays quietly with a wooden teether on a knit blanket on the floor. Naptime is just long enough for her favorite hobby and a spunky exercise routine. Her doting husband arrives home in time to kiss her cheek and pinch her baby-weight-free behind before playing with the baby while she creates a healthy and delicious dinner.
If we're honest, we all want some of that supermommy life. Unfortunately, it's a fantasy. It's time to be transparent about our real lives and give up on measuring up to super-mommy standards. Trust me, embracing an imperfect life as an unsupermommy serving a super-powerful God is joyful freedom.
This book won't instruct you how to do motherhood perfectly. I won't tell you how to raise your child, but I will push you to let God change your heart. You'll discover how the gospel offers redeemed imperfection and more of God even if you're failing by the world's standards. If you're pregnant, your heart is full of lovely desires for how your motherhood will look and the kind of home your child will experience, but if you're already a mom, you probably know the brutal truth: motherhood often feels like failure upon failure.
The world around us is filled with bloated expectations for moms. Even though logically you probably know that no one can live up to those standards, it's nearly impossible not to internalize them. These standards aren't all bad on their own. It's the assumption beneath the standards — that we can control our circumstances — that's fatal to our joy.
But there is hope! You may not have the ability to succeed at the expectations piling up at your feet, but God's strength is mighty in your weakness. He has more than enough power to connect to when you discover that you just aren't strong enough. Ultimately God's goal is not to enable supermommies, but to develop us into women whose humble hearts earnestly love and desire more of him.
I'm a fairly new mom myself. I had my first baby five years ago. Then I had two more, for a total of three boys in just shy of three years. Only God could orchestrate such chaos. With the first two boys, I experienced not infertility but delay in getting pregnant. We knew we didn't get pregnant easily. We were wrong. My second son was only five months old when I took a pregnancy test on a whim after some morning queasiness. I needed to put my mind at ease. So much for that!
I've had three newborn baby experiences in quick succession. I'm not reminiscing fondly from ten years down the road; instead, I'm soldiering through the endless loads of laundry, a constantly messy kitchen, showerless days, and sleepless nights right along with you. I don't have this all figured out. God is teaching me his truth as I write. I'm not a perfect mom, and I'm not an expert, but I have to speak this word: Dear Mommy, don't live in shame for being pushed beyond your limits. You can break free from unnecessary expectations and embrace imperfections covered by God's superpower.
Here's What You Don't Know
My dad loves to remind me, "You don't know what you don't know." Let me tell you, I had no idea what I didn't know about the spiritual impact of being a mommy. When I was pregnant, everyone told me the first year would be rough, but no one explained why. Now that I have done it three times, I'm starting to figure it out. The problem with motherhood is that you're starting from scratch with everything. I didn't know the first thing about taking care of a baby. I had a major learning curve there. Even if I had been a baby person (I'm not) or a full-time nanny for ten years (I wasn't), I would have been completely unprepared for the real trial: identifying the good desires of motherhood that are usurping the best desire — knowing, loving, and glorifying God.
With the birth of her baby, a mother also births an entirely new set of desires for her life. Some of these new desires come from the lengthy set of expectations our society has for mothers. A pregnant woman is inundated with expectations from her doctor, fellow moms, friends, parents, blogs, baby websites, social media groups, and pregnancy books. She develops a master plan for motherhood, full of the grandiose expectations she has willingly (or sometimes at the insistence of others) adopted to fashion the best life for her baby. It's more than a birth plan; it's a life plan, and it feels awesome and untouchable.
Then baby comes and one or all of her plans don't work out. Now mommy feels like a failure. Of course, she's not really a failure! She's just a real-life imperfect woman, with a unique child, whose perfect plan needs to be adapted to meet their combined needs. The real trial stems from her reaction to her circumstances; when a mom lets her expectations become more important than God's plan, her good desires can develop into something ugly.
God explains it best in James 1:13-15: Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God," for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
James explains that we can't blame God or Satan for our temptations; they stem from our desires. God doesn't say "evil desires," which means even our good desires can trip us up. Desire gives birth to sin — oh, how appropriate for mothers. We have so many desires — for ourselves, our children, our husbands — and they're good desires!
The problem is allowing our good desires to reign unchecked by our desire for God. A good desire starts so small that you can't even feel it growing inside of you. As that desire grows, it starts kicking against everything around it. Eventually you can't think about anything else anymore. Everything you do is impaired by it. Sound familiar, pregnant mommies? Unchecked desires become expectations, and expectations become wants, and wants become needs. When something we feel we need goes unmet, we sin to get it.
Sin doesn't feel justifiable for a simple desire, but a need deserves drastic measures. This is the conundrum of the Christian life: we can never completely escape the growth of our desires into needs. Paul David Tripp calls the word need "the sloppiest, most all-inclusive word in the human language." There's an endless list of needs for our babies, our husbands, and ourselves when we allow our desires to become more important than God's plan for us.
The hardship of motherhood isn't our strenuous circumstances; it's our stubborn hearts. Before motherhood, I knew what my normal sin patterns were: worry, need for the attention and approval of others, and pride, just to name a few. Despite these sin patterns, I had always been capable to perform any job given me in my own power. Then I underwent the colossal lifestyle modification of wife to mother, shifting my desires and revealing new sin patterns. For the first time in my life, I wasn't able to meet simple expectations, and I fought endless emotional battles to win back the feeling of being capable and productive. No matter how hard I worked, I couldn't manage to measure up to either the world's standards for moms or my own standards for how I thought motherhood should go.
Unfortunately, this didn't lead to victory but to discarding the one thing I truly needed: more of God. The hardest part of becoming a mom isn't the loss of sleep or crazy hormones; it's the raging unchecked desires for our new lives overtaking our desire for God. It's the grasping, endless pursuit of the unreachable goals for our babies, ourselves, and our husbands.
We know the problem. Now we must search out solutions.
This book outlines specific, good desires for your baby, yourself, and your husband. We'll walk together through unplugging from some common expectations in motherhood that are commandeering the throne of our heart. We are weak and fallen. We will never be perfect moms. We will fail every day. But he gives more grace (James 4:6).
God is grace and mercy, perfect love, and complete rightness. When we get mothering wrong, God gets everything right. His power is stronger than all our weakness. God's grace is sufficient for our tasks, redeeming of our failings, transforming of our attitudes, and abundant enough to always surpass our expectations. God's grace is always greater than our imperfections. It's time for us to give up on measuring up and fall into the faithfulness of our super-powered God.
This book will also walk you through four steps of fully embracing your imperfection as a means to God's superpower. We're already working on Step 1 right now: Give Up on Measuring Up. God doesn't want our self-made supermommy. He wants to use our failures to give us more of him: For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:10). Let's embrace our weakness as the ticket to God displaying his strength in our lives. Let's release the control of raising our children into the hands of the One who loves them infinitely more than we do. Then we can move forward in our imperfection, expecting God's super-powered grace to redeem it for his glory.
Let's begin with believing the gospel: Jesus came to sacrifice himself for all our sins and imperfections. The grace offered to us on the cross is all we truly need for this life. When our hearts are filled with his unending goodness to us first, we don't need to grasp at our expectations. If God is sufficiently big in our lives, we no longer worry about measuring up.
Jesus measured up for us on the cross. If we keep the throne of our heart filled with Christ, there's simply no room for expectations to promote themselves as more important than God's perfect plan. Will you join with me? Let's start by giving up on measuring up. Then we'll let go of our expectations, embrace imperfection, and accept God's grace for the perilous journey of motherhood.
Let's become unsupermommies together.CHAPTER 2
Releasing Expectations for Baby's Sleep
Five years ago, I was very pregnant with my first big baby boy. As I eagerly awaited his birth, women felt compelled to rub my burgeoning belly and regale me with incomprehensible tales of newborn baby sleep ... or lack thereof. They warned me that my baby would wake up every four hours to eat. I couldn't even comprehend the exhaustion of spending thirty to forty-five minutes awake to feed my baby several times each night. In my ignorance I assumed it wouldn't happen to me. I read that newborns slept sixteen to eighteen hours a day. Surely I could manage a total of eight hours if my baby was getting eighteen! I knew my baby would sleep through the night in six to eight weeks. I could handle anything for six weeks, right?
I had no idea.
Then Isaac came. He was not the soft, cuddly, cooing lamb I expected. He was a lion, ravenously hungry and constantly roaring. When he awoke, he was up. He would sleep an hour, then be up for at least two, sometimes three, before going back to sleep. I spent endless hours rocking him, singing old hymns with a quivering voice as tears streamed down my face. Between fluctuating hormones and sleepless nights, I hit rock bottom.
The relentless tears only perpetuated my exhaustion. In my desperation, I searched for hope in the wisdom of the world. I figured there must be a sleep method that could help me overcome this first obstacle of motherhood, but I couldn't get him sleeping long enough to put one into practice. I told my husband I was drowning. Poor man, there was almost nothing he could do. He tried to lull Isaac back to sleep, but because he couldn't provide Isaac with any food, it rarely worked. It had to be me. I did what a mother was supposed to do: I got up and rocked my son over and over while my heart rebelled with anger and unbelief.
Around ten months of age, Isaac began to sleep through the night occasionally. Sleep got better from there, until I had my two babies within thirteen months of each other. I have not had consistent, good sleep for over two years. That's what happens when you get pregnant five months before your baby is ready to sleep through the night. Some say the feeling is hard to describe, but I found a word for it: exhausted. I told my husband, mom, friends, and especially myself several times every day, "I am exhausted."
I had a two-year-old and a six-month-old and was struggling through the first (exhausting) trimester of my third pregnancy. I had every reason to wallow in my exhaustion, right? Wrong. It took an immense act of trust to give up the word exhausted, but I released it to God. He would see my need; he would fill it.
Guess what happened. No, I didn't stop being tired, but I stopped feeling the emotional turmoil present in the word exhausted. Instead I relied on God's mercies, new every early morning. Great is his faithfulness.
Sleep Is a Big Deal, but God's Power Is Bigger
I know, mommies, we need sleep. God wired us this way. Sleep consistently reminds us that we aren't God. God doesn't need sleep but we do. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep (Psalm 121:3-4).
Sleep is not important because we need it, but because God doesn't need it. One of the purposes of sleep is to humble us and remind us that we aren't God. If we fixate on how little we are getting, we miss the point completely. Our sleep, or lack thereof, should constantly remind us of our need for God's power to sustains us. We must obsess less over our rest and expect God to provide.
Weren't we talking about expectations for your baby getting enough sleep? Your baby's sleep and your sleep get so tied up together. Your baby's sleep means rest for you, and that emotional need for your own sleep gets tied up in your desire for your baby to sleep. Of course, there are times when sleep obsession really is about the baby. The baby is miserable and run-down and just needs rest.
But if we really level with ourselves, most of the time we hope for the baby to sleep for our own comfort. A desire for sleep is a God-given part of our humanity, so of course a desire for your baby and yourself to rest is a healthy feeling, but it warps quickly when the desire becomes classified as a need. Remember, sleep can never meet your need for rest; only God holds that power.
When God takes the comfort of rest from our bodies, we frenzy against his sovereignty. Our desire for control combined with our tendency to think we know best usurps our belief in his bountiful goodness and sows anger and unbelief in our hearts. Anger is a horizontal sin. It doesn't stay put inside you, instead popping out in every relationship you have.
Before motherhood, I rarely dealt with anger. Then a little baby came to live with me and steal all my personal comforts. At least, that's what my anger told me. If Isaac would only sleep, everything else in my life would be easy. Because I blamed someone else for my problems, anger was a natural result. I wanted to be a good mom, and that's a lot of work. If I was going to meet all of my expectations for motherhood, I needed a lot of sleep.
If I didn't sleep, I would never have enough energy to achieve supermommy status. I told myself that all it would take was a little more sleep to be a good mom, wife, friend, and Christian. If I had more sleep, I could read my Bible, exercise, make dinner, call a friend, clean the house, or take the baby to the zoo. My baby was keeping me from even being a functional mom, and it made me so angry. I transferred all the responsibility for my actions to my sleepless baby. I assumed my circumstances were the problem, rather than my failure to look to God as my source of rest.
Unbelief works in the heart to create a barrier in your intimacy with God. When you refuse to believe you can do life with only a few hours of sleep, you're forgetting God's promises. God told us that his divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3).
Dear Mommy, God sees you and he knows what you need. You may think that with different circumstances, you could be supermommy, but God promises that he has already equipped you for godliness right in your current situation. All you need to do is rely on his super-powered grace instead of your own strength. Your sleep and your baby's need for rest fall under his sovereignty. Your struggle isn't being overlooked by God. Even if you're running on just a few hours every night, God knows exactly what you need. He's still equipping you, just not with your own power but with his. On our own power, we may manage to complete the tasks of motherhood with very little sleep, but we certainly won't do them in a life-giving and godly way. The only way to have life and godliness is to find your rest and power in God alone.
Excerpted from Unsuper Mommy by Maggie Combs. Copyright © 2017 Maggie Combs. Excerpted by permission of BroadStreet Publishing Group, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Contents1 Embracing Imperfection: Step 1 — Give Up on Measuring Up, 9,
2 Releasing Expectations for Baby's Sleep, 18,
3 Releasing Expectations for Feeding Your Baby, 27,
4 Releasing Expectations for a Superbaby, 37,
5 Embracing Imperfection: Step 2 — Get Connected!, 51,
6 Releasing Expectations for Your Appearance, 60,
7 Releasing Expectations for Your Housekeeping, 70,
8 Releasing Expectations for Your Free Time, 82,
9 Releasing Expectations for Your Purpose in Life, 98,
10 Embracing Imperfection: Step 3 — Charge Up, 107,
11 Releasing Expectations for a Superdaddy, 117,
12 Releasing Expectations for Parenting Together, 127,
13 Releasing Expectations for Your Marriage, 135,
14 Embracing Imperfection: Step 4 — Ignite with God's Superpower, 146,
About the Author, 159,