“Do all moms think they are bad moms?” my eight-year-old daughter asked me, her eyes full of innocence.
We were sitting around the dinner table; I was telling my family about a talk I had heard at a Women’s Conference earlier that day.
The speaker, a woman with beautiful long black hair, shared with us a personal experience from her journal–a dark period in her life when she had felt hopeless, hopeless to overcome her weaknesses and become the person she is meant to be. In agony of soul, she cried out to her Father in Heaven, as she had done countless times before, regarding her situation.
Her situation? She had yelled at her kids. She had yelled at her kids after making the commitment to no longer yell at them. Today, she had broken that commitment and yelled, yet again (because of their constant whining and teasing and disobedience and….well…all those things that tend to push a mom past her breaking point.) And while she was yelling, she caught a glimpse of her children’s hurt faces and broken spirits and it nearly broke her heart. How could she ever be free of this insufferable weakness of yelling at her children? Falling to her knees that night she wept bitter tears of utter despair.
BAD MOMS EVERYWHERE
As I listened to her speak, I slowly looked around the Conference room to find every woman around me wiping her wet eyes. I paused a moment and then wiped my own.
Reflecting on the talk, I replied to my daughter. “Yes,” I whispered, “I think every mother probably feels like a bad mother.”
“Oh,” she said, turning her attention back to her food.
My response to her question haunted me for the rest of the night. “Did I really want my daughters to think that I believe I am a bad mom? And that all moms feel like bad moms? Did I want my daughters to grow up feeling that they themselves were bad moms?
No! No, I absolutely do not want them thinking and feeling those things. So what can I do to no longer feel like a bad mom?
An answer was presented by the speaker at the Woman’s Conference. In essence, she said, “I decided that night to hand my inadequacies over to my Savior. I decided to apply the Atonement of Jesus Christ to my life. I don’t know what He’s going to do with what I gave Him, but it’s now His.” Then she stood up and went on her way, acting as though she had never had that particular weakness.
How many times have we been told to apply the Atonement of Jesus Christ to our lives? How exactly do we do that?
I admire how the speaker handed her inadequacies over to her Savior and then immediately moved forward in faith. It sounds to me like a good two-step action plan for applying Christ’s Atonement to one’s life:
1. Hand your inadequacies over to the Savior
2. Immediately move forward in faith
If I could add a third step, it would be:
3. Don’t get discouraged if you’re not perfect
Scientist and poet Piet Hein wrote short verses that he called brooks. One of his most famous brooks was called “The Road to Wisdom”:
Well, it’s plain
and simple to express.
Err and err and err again,
but less and less and less.
As this verse suggests, the key to wisdom is not succeeding, but learning from your mistakes in ways that allow the mistakes you make in the future to be less damaging than the ones you made in the past. You need to take the proper orientation toward failure. You have to learn the art of self-compassion—treating yourself with warmth and understanding. You can set high expectations, but you should not punish yourself when you fail.”
To me, this describes—in a nutshell—the application of the Atonement of Jesus Christ to one’s life.
Early the next morning, I gathered my children to my side and told them that I had changed my mind; I told them that I do, in fact, feel like a good mom. I acknowledged that I’m not perfect, but, because of Jesus Christ’s Atonement, I can try to do better tomorrow. My kids each smiled and told me that they think I’m a great mom.
I now wake up excited to face the day and go to bed feeling content, knowing (and really believing!) that, because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, I’ll have the opportunity to do better tomorrow. It’s a practical lesson regarding the Atonement that I hope my children will learn at a young age.
It feels good knowing that I’m a good mom. I bet you’re a good mom, too.
Day 24 Challenge: Think of three positive things you did today in relation to your role as mother. Celebrate your successes!
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This is Day 24 of my Write 31 Days series for 2017: 31 Days to an Authentic Life.
For an index of all the posts in the series, please click HERE.
For more on the subject of hope: Hope For The Downhearted: A Story of Life, Loss, and Hope