For years I tried to be a good Christian woman. I read books and blogs that informed me on how I should act and how I should run my home. I was tired. I was filled with regret over the mistakes I made yesterday and the day before. I was weighted down by my long Christian to-do list. I was weary. And I wondered how that verse in the Bible could be true. The one that says that God’s yoke is easy because it didn’t feel easy.
I knew that the Christian life was not suppose to be a piece of cake. I knew that I was called to daily take up my cross and that I would face trials in this life. But it wasn’t the trials that were wearing me down. It was the striving to be a good Christian woman, wife and mother that weighed heavy on me, especially when I felt like I was failing over and over again.
It was attempting to wake up early to have a daily quiet time only to be interrupted by little ones. It was trying to cook healthy meals for my family when I was too tired to stand on my feet one minute longer. It was scrolling through Pinterest knowing I would never complete any of the projects I just pinned. It was failing to keep my house as clean, and my kids as well-behaved, and my schedule as balanced as it should be. It was all the ways I attempted to be a good Christian only to fail miserably.
Then there were moments when it seemed to me that I was doing a pretty good job at being a good Christian woman. Pride would rise up within me as I paraded my well-behaved children around and showed off my clean and organized home. But even in these times I found myself weary. It took a lot of energy to wear my mask of perfection and there was always the looming reality that if I didn’t push myself harder it all might fall apart.
It was all so very exhausting….
And I wondered….
Was this what being a Christian was all about? Was it believing in Christ and the forgiveness of sins and then all this working to do all that a good Christian should do to please God and make Him happy? If Christ died for my sins just so that I could work at earning His favor then I wasn’t sure how much more work I could do.
The Good News
But there is good news! The Christian life isn’t about working and failing and feeling weary and worthless. There is something much better for us Christian women!
Imagine a chalk board hanging around my neck that has every sinful thing I have ever thought or done written on it in chalk. This is me before I knew Christ. Now imagine someone wiping that chalk board clean so that there is not one sin left on it. This is what Christ did for me when he paid the price for my sins on the cross.
And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Colossians 2:13-14
Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, And whose sins are covered. Romans 4:7
Now this is how I often imagine myself; like an empty chalk board that needs to be filled with good things. I try so hard to be a good mother, wife and woman of God so that I can have good things written on that chalk board. I want God to look at me and see all the good things I have done. I want others to see me as having it all together. I want to be proud of myself and what I have accomplished.
But this is not what being a Christian is about. I forget that when Jesus died on the cross he not only paid for all my sins but he gave me his own perfect record as well! That means that my chalk board is not empty. It is filled, in permanent marker, with everything that Jesus did perfectly his entire life. This perfect record is what God sees when he sees me! He sees Jesus’ perfect record covering my entire chalk board and it can never be erased. That means I don’t have to nor could I ever do anything to add to that perfect record that is already mine!
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:21
When I understand this reality the weight of trying to be a perfect wife and mother is lifted. I can live my life without guilt, pride, feelings of failure or the weight of finding my worth in the good things I have accomplished. When I realize how much God loves me and how much He did for me I want to praise and exalt him by doing many of the things that were once weighing me down. I don’t do them to earn His favor or to be a perfect mom or wife. I do them out of an overflow of gratitude for what Christ has done for me. When I find myself reverting back to doing things because of expectations or guilt then I know it is time to turn to the Word of God for a reminder of who I am in Christ.
Practically Living in Christ Righteousness
What does it look like to live in light of what Christ has done for me? How does knowing I am perfect in Christ free me from the weight of trying to do it all? Let me give a practical example of how living in Christ’s righteousness might look for a weary mother.
Let’s say that I stayed up really late one night watching numerous episodes of my favorite show on Netflix. The next day I am extremely tired and upon discovering that the baby’s diaper has leaked all over his crib I promptly ask the Lord why he thought it was a good idea to “bless me” with child number three. Next, I follow my toddler’s shouts of “uh-oh!” to find his cereal bowl and all its contents strewn across the kitchen table and floor. “How can you be so clumsy?” I angrily howl at my son. Then I see my older daughter, with her gentle and sweet spirit, standing in the other room with tears welling up in her eyes. I don’t know what is bothering her and I really don’t have the time or energy to find out. I ignore her emotional needs and hurry everyone out the door to run errands.
That night as I lay my head on my pillow, I am weighed down with guilt over my bad parenting. I ask the Lord to forgive me for messing up again although I’m not sure why he doesn’t help me during the day when I’m failing as a mother. I promise to do better tomorrow and fall asleep exhausted and ashamed of how I treated my kids.
Another day of weariness….
The next day I awake to my Good Mommy To-Do List. Be thankful for the baby. Don’t yell at the toddler. Remember to talk with my daughter. Go to bed on time. Tidy up the house so I can feel more in control of my life. Oh, and I must remember to find something to thank the Lord for today. My list feels like a load of bricks upon my shoulders. I’m still trying to figure out how God’s yoke is light because this list feels pretty heavy to me.
I head downstairs for a cup of coffee determined to obey the verse that calls me to be slow to anger, abounding in love. “Yes, Lord! Let me be slow to anger and full of love today!” I repeat this phrase one more time as I step into a puddle of cat urine soaking into our carpet. “I don’t know why my husband wanted to get this stupid cat!” I shout. “This is not what I need to start my day!” I grumble. “How am I suppose to be slow to anger when the Lord keeps throwing these kind of things my way!” I demand.
And the weight that was heavy on my shoulders begins to crush me.
A day of freedom in light of what Christ has done for me…
Can we push the rewind button on this scenario? Perhaps we can back it up to the moment I put my head on the pillow and felt weighed down with guilt over my bad parenting. What if this happened instead…
I realize that I have sinned in my behavior and attitude toward my children. I acknowledge my sin and ask the Lord to forgive me. I know that I deserve the full wrath of God for these sins, but I remember that Jesus already bore the full wrath of God on my behalf which means there is no more wrath left for me. I don’t have to fear God’s judgement, instead I can rejoice in what Christ has done for me and live in grateful obedience. I ponder the amazing reality that I am not only forgiven but that I also have the perfect record of Christ. I recognize that I can never be a perfect mother but that God still sees me as righteous in Christ. I praise God for His great love for me and fall asleep freed from the shackles of guilt and my long to-do list.
His yoke is light…
The next day I awake to my Who God Is and What He Has Done list. God is loving. God is faithful. God is merciful. God is gracious. God is unchanging. God is my Savior. God loved me so much that He sent His Son (who was fully God and fully man) to earth to live in human flesh yet never sin. Jesus bore my sins on the cross, taking on himself the full wrath of God. He transferred me from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. Through faith in Christ I now have the righteousness (or perfect record) of Jesus. Now, in light of who God is and what he has done for me, I can praise God through grateful obedience as I tackle the tasks before me today.
I head downstairs for a cup of coffee quietly praising God for all he has done. My heart is free and my step is light as I walk into a puddle of cat urine soaking into our carpet. “I don’t know why my husband wanted to get this stupid cat!” I shout. And then I remember all that Christ has done for me. I quickly acknowledge my angry and bitter attitude and ask the Lord to forgive me. I thank God once again for his mercy and grace towards me and then continue on with my day with a better understanding of how God’s yoke is easy and his burden is light.
And then my day goes on…
As the day goes on I may fall back into my old patterns and begin to shoulder the burden of my inadequacy yet again. My children’s unending demands and the constant call to manage my home eclipse the reality of what Christ has done for me and cause me to lose focus.
In the craziness of the day, I have forgotten the gospel truth. I have become so wrapped up in my own works and the works of others that I have neglected to remember the finished work of Christ. It is time for me to go to God’s Word for a fresh dose of gospel truth. I am loved. I am forgiven. I am perfect in Christ. It is time for me to set my eyes on the things above so that I can continue on with my day out of an overflow of gratitude for what Christ has done for me.
The Christian life isn’t about being perfect. It’s about realizing you will never be perfect but that you have a perfect Savior. It’s continually going to God’s Word for another glimpse of who God is and who you are in Christ.
If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. Colossians 3:1-4
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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