I bet if you polled 100 moms all 100 would say they wished they could be more perfect. That's what we want. To be the mom who bakes the cookies, plays the board games, cheers the loudest at Little League. Not to mention, teaches our children Scripture, who has daily quiet time with the kids, who models Christlike behavior at all times … or at least close to all times. That's why I've had a beef with a certain Scripture for a while. Matthew 5:48 to be exact: “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Really, God?! Is that really in the Bible. You're not serious are you?
Thankfully, one of my favorite Bible Study tools is my Amplified Bible, which actually explains the meaning of the words within the Scripture verse. This is how it puts it:
“You, therefore, must be perfect [growing into complete maturity of godliness in mind and character, having reached the proper height of virtue and integrity], as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
I like the word “growing” in there. It's a process. God doesn't expect me to be perfect today. In fact, I'll never be perfect this side of heaven. In some respects this has become even clearer since adopting Alyssa. I'm still growing as a mom, even though two of my three older children are already out of the house (and one about to be married!), I'm still growing as a parent. As a person. I haven't arrived, I don't know it all, I'm still reaching and I have hope that I'll get there. God has shown me the standard—Jesus! And what a standard it is.
It reminds me of when I was teaching my son Nathan to set the table when he was four. I started one day by showing him what a set table looked like. “See, here are the plates. Here is the napkin. Here are the forks.”
After that, I gave Nathan the task of setting the table, but I made things as easy as possible for him. I used a bottom cupboard that he could reach to store plastic plates and cups. I also made sure the napkins and silverware were accessible to him.
Nathan enjoyed setting the table, which I liked, but Nathan didn't set the perfect table right away. Sometimes he forgot the forks. Other times the napkins were set on the left side, instead of the right. I wasn't upset that Nathan wasn't perfect, rather I helped him, picking one thing that he could try fix next time.
“Why don't we have the butter knifes alongside the plates rather than sticking out of our drinking cups, shall we?”
I'm happy to say that at age 16, Nathan knows how to set a proper table. And he does so every night! He's even graduated to glasses and breakable plates. I'm proud! :)
I think in a way this is how God feels about us—as moms striving to get it right. God's given us a perfect standard, Jesus, to mimic, but He also understands if we need to work with the plastic cups for a while. Being perfect is a growth process and training exercise to be sure!
Just like it helped Nathan to know the standard, it helps me to know what perfection means to God. The Amplified Bible lists these things:
1. growing into complete maturity of godliness in mind and character
2. having reached the proper height of virtue and integrity
To me that sounds like living, thinking, and behaving like God would in every situation. A big goal, but also one we can strive toward as we read His Word (to know what He is thinking) and invite His Holy Spirit into our day (to help us live and behave as God would).
So perhaps I've been a little off in my idea of what a perfect mom looks like, but I'm thankful that God is giving me a better picture of what that means. And, if you were to poll God, I bet He'd tell you that 100 out of 100 moms can be better moms today … if they just invite Him into the process.