My first job out of college was at a domestic violence shelter.
I was twenty-one years old, newly married, and the ink on my college diploma had barely dried when I took the job as a counselor for women who were caught in violent relationships. Though I had the heart and desire to help these women, I was sorely prepared. Though I had learned a lot about the helping field in college, I had little experience.
I was underqualified. I knew it and the women I helped knew it.
Fast forward a number of years later when I was expecting my first child. I had read dozens of parenting books. I had taught parenting classes as part of my counseling work. I had talked to every mom-friend I knew to get their advice on various aspects of motherhood. But when I held my newborn son in my arms, I knew it. I think he knew it too.
I was underqualified. Incapable. Insufficient.
I’ve always been an independent sort. When I have a goal, I work hard and pursue it. I may seek advice or assistance along the way, but ultimately, I know if I want to get to where I’m headed, I have to do the work that’s required. I faced motherhood the same way. I’m not a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of person; I like to be prepared. So I bought all the books, studied all the methods, and read all the research.
I applied myself to motherhood the same way I did a project or paper in college. I put everything into it the way I did my work. But unlike other things in life, motherhood did not fit so neatly into a box. My children did not always conform to what the books said. The methods often failed. The research often turned out meaningless.
As a result, I was humbled. Like the stretch marks forever etched in my skin, motherhood stretched me beyond what I was capable of within myself. I learned that I was weak and insufficient and couldn’t rely on my own resources or strength. I had to face the truth that I couldn’t depend on my own wisdom. I couldn’t find help and hope in methods. I couldn’t make life work for me.
If there’s one thing motherhood has taught me, it’s that I can’t do it on my own. I need help from outside myself. I need Jesus.
Good News for the Underqualified Mom
God often uses motherhood, with all its challenges and difficulties, to put our need for Christ front and center before us. Motherhood reveals our need for a Savior. This is true for all moms. No matter the season we are in—early motherhood, childhood years, adolescent years, or beyond—we need Jesus. We need the gospel.
The word “gospel” means good news. And here’s the good news: God the Father sent God the Son, Jesus Christ, to take on human flesh. He entered this sinful, broken world as a baby and lived a perfect life. He then became the perfect final sacrifice at the cross, where he bore our sins for us. He suffered, died, and was buried. He then rose again from the grave three days later. He ascended into heaven, where he stands at the right hand of God, ready and waiting to return once and for all to make things right and bring us to be with him for eternity.
Through faith in Jesus Christ, we are saved from our sins. We are justified. We are declared righteous and forgiven of all our sin. We are then adopted into God’s family where we become God’s children and fellow believers become our siblings, with Jesus as our elder brother. We have all the rights and privileges that come with being his children and heirs of his kingdom. This includes the gift of the Spirit who lives within us, encouraging, training, and transforming us into the image of Christ.
Some people view this good news, the gospel, as something you agree with before moving on with the rest of your life. Some people view the gospel as insurance that things will be okay when they die, and they don’t give it a second thought after signing on the dotted line. Some people think of the gospel as an opportunity for a redo in life, as though their slate has been wiped clean and they have a chance to get things right the second time. That’s not the gospel. It’s not a one-time thing. It’s a truth we turn to over and over throughout our lives, appropriating and applying it to our hearts. The gospel is something we never outgrow and never get beyond our need for.
For underqualified moms who know their insufficiency, who feel weak, who lack wisdom, this good news is for us. The gospel—the truths of who Jesus is and what he has done—is our hope. When we feel ill-prepared, inadequate, and insufficient in our mothering, we must remember the gospel. We must look to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). We must remember who Jesus is and what he came to do.
Jesus is everything that we cannot be. He is everything for us. Through his perfect life, sacrificial death, and triumphant resurrection, he has accomplished all that we cannot. Dear friends, Jesus is sufficient for us in motherhood. He carries, strengthens, and sustains us. He is our wisdom. He is our redemption. He is our hope and peace.
While we may be underqualified as moms, in Christ we are made qualified.
Note: This post is inspired by Christina’s new book, Sufficient Hope: Gospel Prayers and Meditations for Moms.
About the Author:
Christina received her undergraduate degree from Covenant College and her Master’s Degree in Counseling from Palm Beach Atlantic University. She writes for a number of Christian ministries and publications including TGC, Revive Our Hearts, Desiring God, Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, and Ligonier Ministries. She is the content editor for enCourage and the author of A Heart Set Free: A Journey to Hope Through the Psalms of Lament , Closer Than a Sister: How Union with Christ Helps Friendships to Flourish, Idols of a Mother’s Heart and Sufficient Hope: Gospel Meditations and Prayers for Moms. Christina serves on the advisory board at Covenant College and is on the national women’s ministry team as Regional Adviser of the Southeast. She prefers her coffee black and from a French press, enjoys antiquing, hiking, traveling, and reading. She lives in Atlanta with her husband and two boys. You can find her at www.christinafox.com, @christinarfox and on Facebook.