3 Reasons Why Your Mess Makes You a Great Mama

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When motherhood and I were just getting acquainted, I thought I could approach her like taking a test. If I prepared well and made few mistakes, I could ace this thing and therefore send my children into the wild blue yonder with nary a carry-on size bit of baggage. I assumed good parenting would fit nicely within my hard work ethic and efforts, and the results would be few mothering mistakes.

Ya, right.

It didn’t take long to discover this parenting gig brought more trick questions and multiple choice answers than I ever dreamt. By the grace of God, much of mothering did come naturally to me, but I didn’t know all the answers. Some days, I’m not sure I knew any. I made mistake after mistake after mistake, and I was sure I got everything wrong. I became afraid of my weaknesses, certain the more I messed up parenting, the more I messed up my kids.

Discouragement sat beside me and continually asked me one question: why can’t you get your act together?

And the answer came like a song on a breeze,

Because it is through your messy parts I most teach you about Me. You are a great mama not in spite of your mess, but because of it.

The longer I work through this parenting gig {14 years and counting!}, the more I see it’s true. Because while we’re all a bit of a hot mess and don’t have our act together all the time, we have a God who brings good out of everything all the time.

MOPS talk pic

3 Reasons Why Your Mess Makes You a Great Mama:

1. Your mess sends the message that we’re to rest in promises, not perfection.

I know in my heart perfection is an unrealistic – and downright bad – ideal, but how often do I act like perfection is attainable and acceptable?

Perfection should never be the goal of parenting because a perfect mom is not an excellent mom. A perfect mom – if she could exist - is an unapproachable mom. How could our kids be close to us if we demanded perfection from ourselves or them? Our kids aren’t perfect and they know they aren’t. It comforts them to know mama doesn’t expect perfection, either.

So instead of resting in perfection, we rest in promises such as these:

“He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart, he gently leads those that have young.” Isaiah 40:11 

It doesn’t say He spends energy on raising perfect little lambs but gathering, carrying, and loving them.

“No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” 1 John 4:12 

We don’t have to be perfect because we are already perfectly loved.

“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6 

God fills in our gaps and perfectly finishes what we imperfectly begin.

2. Your mess sends the message that you are just the right mama to raise your babies.

If you spend quality time with your kids and love God, you’re a good mama regardless of what you feel like. Regardless of what you see that mom over there doing that you aren’t doing over here.

Sometimes, I will see that mama doing something awesome and think because I’m not doing that thing I might be a bad mom.

But it’s not good mom /bad mom.

It’s good mom/different kind of good mom.

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Often I tell my children that if God lined up all the kids in the world and told me to pick 3, I would pick them. What if we turn that inside out and imagine God lining up all the mothers in the world and picking just one to raise your particular children? He picked you and only you. Since God placed your children – with their distinct personalities, character traits and interests – into your life, you are the best mama for your babies, not someone else.

We all have different kinds of messes, but we can all still be good mamas in the messes because God fills all our different gaps. 

3. Your mess sends the message that mistakes are allowed and grace is welcome.

Our messy parts hold the opportunity to teach our children one of the most important lessons they can ever learn: Grace.

When we mess up toward our kids, we look them in the eyes and tell them we’re so sorry. We ask for their forgiveness and remind them that mama needs grace as much as they do.

Proverbs 3:34 says the Lord gives grace to the humble. When we apologize to our kids, we show humility and invite grace into our homes, and heaven knows everyone wants to reside in a house where grace lives.

Imperfection is the prerequisite for grace. Light only gets in through the cracks.  ~ Philip Yancey

It is inside the imperfections, the weaknesses, and the cracks that light escapes. It is where Jesus comes out and is what we cannot be. 

So we can be the great mamas He designed us to be.

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  1. In my earliest days of mothering (been at it about as long as you — 14 years!), someone told me to look at the piles of laundry in my home as monuments commemorating the time I’d spent with my kids. Life is, indeed, quite messy, and while I don’t cope with mess very well, I’m anything but perfect. So, I must be very approachable! Thanks for the words, today!

    • Here’s to the imperfect and approachable moms! (clink, clink)

      And I’ll remember that next time I look at that pile of laundry. Thank you for your words here, Kirsten.

  2. I needed this so today. My husband is home after 6 months gone (Air Force), and we are trying to get back on the same page as far as parenting. Lots of victories. Lots of mistakes. I get kind of stuck on the mistakes at the end of the day, and I work on letting it go, but this seems more fruitful. Embrace the mistakes. Let them magnify grace. Thanks so much for writing.

    • Oh girl, you get boatloads of extra grace as you maneuver those waters of reintegration.

      Thank you for sharing here, Megan, and for your service right alongside your husband’s. Much love.

  3. Kristen, you’ve done it again. You’ve spoken straight to my mess when I needed it most. I really blew it with my first-grader this morning, and I’ve been regretting myself all day. In fact I was just contemplating giving her one of her birthday presents early just to show her how sorry I am – is that terrible or what?!? (Her birthday isn’t for another month, mind you. But it’s a twirling baton, who wouldn’t love to be surprised with a twirling baton?) :) Anyway, I am weak and then He is strong. Thank you again for this beautiful reminder. I want to hug you right now. Or, if you prefer, I could send you a twirling baton… :)

  4. This is the exact lesson God has been working on in my heart and life the past couple of years. Your words here are truly truth spoken into my life. God is so good to continue to shower me with grace while I learn. Thanks for opening your momma heart here.

  5. Oh, how I needed these words today! God is so amazingly good to direct you to share just the message I desperately needed. My 17 year old step son has challenged me in a way that none of his 4 blended siblings ever did. The translation of Isaiah 40:11 verse just lifted my bruised heart and brightened the tough day. Thank you for sharing your gift. Many prayers for you and all the other mommies out there. I give praise daily for God’s amazing grace!

  6. Absolutely loved today’s devotion. It’s good to be reminded of these things! And it is humbling to think that God chose US to be the moms of the children He has placed in our care! Beautifully written. Thank you Holley for the wonderful encourager that you are…. I look forward to your devotions every day!!

  7. Hi friend, Well said. All of us mommas need to hear this. {BTW – Love Downton Abbey!!!} Blessings to you, jana

  8. When the Dowager Countess said that line, I teared up. It’s true. I’m learning to embrace Lysa TerKeurst’s phrase “imperfect progress” as I learn and grow and pass along whatever I can to my teenage daughters. Thanks, Kristen.

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  1. […] Good things look like having a goal to not throw up at a MOPS speaking engagement and being pleasantly surprised when the only thing that departs from me is genuine joy from encouraging moms. […]