How Jesus Changes Motherhood

Hilary Tompkins » Family Children Home Heart Gospel

How Jesus Changes Motherhood

Trying to be the perfect mom can be a crushing weight, and sometimes Mother’s Day only makes it worse. We hope these stories from regular moms relying on Jesus in the midst of failure and imperfection will encourage you.

How are you doing, mama? Did your Mother’s Day go perfectly?

Did you have perfectly obedient children, a perfectly attentive husband, perfect weather, perfect food, and perfect hair?

Or did the pastor speak on Proverbs 31 (guilt), did your kids go to church with syrup in their hair (guilt), and did your husband ask where his favorite shirt is again (guilt)?

Not your Pinterest Mother’s Day? You’re not alone.

Free to be imperfect

We are held captive by our desire for perfection. For once, for goodness’ sake, could we just get to church on Mother’s Day looking as good as our imagination says we could—speaking words of blessing and kindness; looking thin, pretty, and decently put together; not embarrassed by our kids’ behavior or the condition of the van? And not, for the sake of all that’s holy, exposed for what we truly are: disappointed, broken, missing a person, and missing our peace.

If we were together, we could talk about how the truth of the gospel changes all this, and it would be fabulous conversation. We could remind ourselves of the good gifts that God has given us, truly count our blessings, resolve to feel grateful for the sticky little ones that call us Mom, and that would be restful.

We are held captive by our desire for perfection.

We could compare notes on what it will actually be like when finally, someday, they all rise up and call us blessed. We would rejoice in the new identity, new life, and new perspective that is the result of really, truly believing the gospel.

We would remember that though we were lost, now we are found. Though we are insufficient, we are unbelievably loved by a God who is completely sufficient. Though we are worse than we ever thought, Jesus is better than we could ever imagine. Though we are so clearly not perfect, his perfection is imputed to us as righteousness.

How the gospel changes motherhood

Do you doubt this? Sometimes there is nothing like a friend to remind and rejoice with us. So I want to share some stories with you on this Mother’s Day, stories from real mamas just like you, with the same shortcomings and struggles, and with the same good God. So grab your favorite drink and listen in. I asked some moms these questions:

  • How has knowing Jesus changed you as a Mom?
  • How has knowing the truth of the gospel transformed your perspective on motherhood?

And here’s what they said:


When J. was first born, every time he cried I felt this weight that I should know why. I didn’t have a mothering instinct that just knew how to care for him. The gospel in that situation means this: I have the freedom to ask for help because of Jesus’ work on the cross, and if I don’t know or don’t hear a spidey-sense answer, I can guess in freedom without shame or guilt for getting it wrong. Jesus already despised that shame.

When J. had his first real giant fit (I told him to pick up his cup), I was at a loss about how to help him. That kid was gone! I prayed for help. I got a picture of myself sobbing in our little closet a year earlier when I had prayed that God would help me know what to do in the midst of conflict. God was asking me to obey, and I didn’t want to.

I understood that God was calling me to do as he had been doing with me: To hold J. and be with him as he was crying out, all while staying unmoving, continuing to repeat the calling to pick up his water until he did. I genuinely celebrated with him and knew it was time to repent myself and let the Lord celebrate with me. I knew then how tender and unmoving God had been, and that I was not getting away with anything in my own fit. That changed my impatience to understanding. I am the same as my little toddler people.

Though we are insufficient, we are unbelievably loved by a God who is completely sufficient.


I’ve never yet had a perfect day mothering. I give in daily to the temptations of impatience, or anger, or apathy, or the worship of a freshly cleaned bathroom that lasts for at least five freaking minutes. I used to allow my failures to undermine my authority: I’m not good enough to parent these children!

But I’m learning the importance and wonderful freedom of living as though what Jesus says is true: I’m forgiven. With his help I can repent of my sins against them and still stand in loving authority over them. And I must.


Every day requires that I forgo my will and plan and fall at the foot of the cross in order to love and serve my kids. God’s grace that is in the cross is what sustains me in the chaos of this life.


The gospel has freed me to see my children as the people Jesus made them, rather than adornments for my glory. Finding my identity in Christ, and realizing that all the glory belongs to him, allows me to love and serve my children in a way that is real.

My kids had to be “just so” before we could leave for church, because they were representing me. Besides the stress on my kids and my unholy anger at the toddler who would yank her braids out or the kids who just wouldn’t put on the shoes I laid out for them, it caused snarling ugly fights between my husband and me. Seeing that the gospel is enough allows me to repent of my desire for personal glory and allows my kids to go to church with joy (and syrup in their hair).

Though we are worse than we ever thought, Jesus is better than we could ever imagine.


Knowing the gospel has absolutely changed how I see motherhood. For me it happened during labor with my firstborn: I was a whiny, entitled victim throughout my pregnancy. I took full advantage of my excuse to be moody and overly emotional, but something happened when I began labor.

I realized that this wasn’t about me; it was about doing what was best for my little boy I hadn’t even met face-to-face yet. The throes of labor, with no end in sight and nowhere to go but to give in to the contractions and sacrifice my comfort for his wellbeing—it was a picture of the gospel I never saw coming. It’s all about Jesus and showing my children that same grace and mercy that he has shown me.


Before I had kids, I thought I knew how to be a mom. I had lots of opinions as to why kids were out of control and what the parents should do to correct the behavior of those children.

Then I had my sweet little B. Everything I “knew” about being a mom went out the window with this tiny little human. I learned very quickly that, like every other first-time mom, I had no idea what I was doing.

In my despair and loneliness, God met me. I was not alone. Those late nights of figuring out how to feed my baby were some of the hardest nights of my life, but God was there. He met me in the simplicity of singing Amazing Grace to B. as I tried to calm her down and put her to sleep. He met me with a husband who got up with me and encouraged me to keep on going.

In the dark, all alone, praying over this precious baby, God changed my heart towards being a mommy. I am not supposed to have all the answers. I am supposed to go to the One who does. I am supposed to fall flat on my face before him who knows my fears and my failures. God is the only one who knows how to raise my children perfectly.

Remembering life when B. was a newborn is always helpful for me—to look back and remember those sweet nights in the dark, praying and singing hymns to that precious baby who scared the heck out of me.

“I’m learning the importance and wonderful freedom of living as though what Jesus says is true: I’m forgiven.”


The gospel has transformed my goals in parenting. I used to just desire that my kids obey me, and I didn’t give much weight to their heart’s condition behind their behavior. I wanted to make my kingdom as comfortable for me as possible. Jesus has been gracious to me in showing me my true motives for their obedience, and he’s worked on my heart to deeply care for what’s going on in their heart.


Instead of an authority figure that demands to be obeyed and respected, I get to be an ambassador of grace to my children. Instead of my worth being based on how my children turn out or behave, my worth is found in God’s redemption of even my failures as a mom.

Instead of despairing when I fall short in mothering well, I get to turn to my perfect parent who forgives me quickly and keeps no record of wrongs. Instead of having to present myself to my children as the perfect example of Christian womanhood, I get to point them to the perfect Savior and lover of their souls.

Instead of insisting on things I feel I have a right to as a parent because I’ve “earned” them, I get to rejoice when my children choose to worship Jesus instead of me. Instead of living with hard-heartedness in my children, I get to pray for them and demonstrate quick repentance for them.

It’s all about Jesus and showing my children that same grace and mercy that he has shown me.


I grew up without my real dad and with an angry mom. The truth of the gospel showed me that my bigger, better Father has perfect love for me and is always there to help me show my kids what I didn’t experience from my parents. He shows it to me so I can show it to them.

Because of how I was raised, I have a temptation to be short-fused when my kids misbehave. I would yell to get their attention and let that be the consequence. I saw my oldest start to go away from me for long periods of time after I had scolded her, and I could see my response had devastated her.

I prayed about it for a long time as I remembered my own little-girl hurt, and I asked God to help me not repeat the cycle. Through repenting on the spot when I’d fail at this, she saw me correct her without getting angry or raising my voice. Now she doesn’t go away from me anymore—she comes in, stays with me in it, and we repent to each other and Jesus together for our selfish impatience with whatever it is that got us there.


Knowing the truth of the gospel has made me realize that it’s not about me; it’s about Jesus. This one seemingly simple truth has drastically changed me.

When things aren’t going as I planned, I no longer need to get angry or frustrated, but I can trust that Jesus, in those moments, is using me to reflect his patience and peace back to my children.

I don’t need to live in constant fear for my children, but I can trust that just as Jesus has cared for, pursued, and protected me, he has the same heart for my children. I have rest knowing that he has specifically equipped me to care these specific children and uses them to grow and shape me.

The truth that these children are not my own, but belong to Jesus, is the most transforming thing of all. He has asked me to train them up, clinging to him, and then asks me to let them go, clinging to him—all for his glory. Because it’s all about Jesus and not about me.


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