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The Pressure Is Off

by Lori Orander

“Clay, see!! Cows!!” Two-year-old John was pointing from the front of the stroller to get his older brother’s attention! “John-boy!! Look at that butterfly on the cow’s nose! Yuck…Why do they smell so bad?” Laughter, giggling, pure and innocent joy. My cup was full and my heart overflowing with gratitude and contentment and joy. They had become oblivious to me as they were talking and pointing and just enjoying the ride! I was just purely enjoying – them! Just watching them enjoy the beautiful day, God’s creation, and each other; just hearing their laughter and giggles—this Mom’s heart was full!

I quietly breathed, “Thank you, Father God.” Immediately I became aware of His presence. Like, I knew He was right there. I suddenly had this “picture” in my mind that if I turned around from where I was walking, I would see that HE was behind me, like I was behind my boys, and the Father was pushing “MY stroller” and watching me watch my boys and laughing and enjoying ME as I laughed and enjoyed them!

And I knew. I knew He was teaching me and showing me—that in the same way I was delighting in my children, so my Father was delighting over me! Just like I was quietly enjoying my boys’ joy and they were oblivious to Mom, so was my Father just quietly enjoying me enjoying them!! Just as I was pushing their stroller and guiding them along, excited for them to see and experience all the beauty around them, so my Father was guiding and directing me along, so truly excited for me to see and experience all the blessings He had created for me to enjoy.  

Moms. This was a turning point for me. This encounter with my Father’s love and delight changed forever how I saw myself, my Father, and my role as “Mother.” Maybe this Mother’s Day, it might encourage you.

First, you are so dearly loved. Twenty-seven years ago, when little Clay was born and the doctor laid him in my arms, my heart exploded. I did not know this kind of love was even possible; and in that moment I knew that Father loved us even more. Even MORE? What?! When I looked into his little blue eyes, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt I would do anything for him, give up anything, even give my very life for this new life that would now know me as his Mom. And the Father began that day to let me feel and experience just a glimpse of the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God who loved you and me so much that He gave His only Son…He gave His only Son. Wait. What?

He loves you so much that He gave His only Son so that you could know Him as Father, belong in His family, and that you’d have eternal life with Him, enjoying days here and all of heaven together, forever.  (John 3:16, paraphrased)

Second, He is with you.  Always.

“Sing, O Daughter of Zion…Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O Daughter of Jerusalem! The Lord has taken away your punishment, he has turned back your enemy. The Lord, the King, is with you; never again will you fear any harm…Do not fear…do not let your hands hang limp. The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”

(Zephaniah 3: 14-17)

In the same way you love your children and are “there” for them no matter what, so your Father God is WITH YOU all the time and is intimately aware of your joys, your fears, your excitement, your tears. He longs for you to trust His guiding voice, to know and believe that He’s got you, and His way is full of blessing for you;  He truly wants you to lay back and enjoy the “ride” and delight in every blessing He has surrounded you with as you journey on.    

Third, you don’t have to get it all right. Yes, He has chosen you to be the mother of your specific children. He has chosen you. He trusts you. He believes in you. He knows that YOU are who they need as ‘Mom.’ You have a high calling! There is purpose in your days, whatever their ages, whatever stage or season of mothering you may be in. But here’s the thing: not one of us does it perfectly! Not one of us Mothers, from the time of Eve until now, has gotten it all right. You cannot—and He knows!  

This one was huge for me, and as I have mentored younger women and moms for over thirty years now, I happen to know it’s huge for every mom I’ve ever met. Maybe huge for you. Let’s say it again: you don’t have to get it all right.  

I grew up loving Jesus, married a godly man, and wanted to raise a Jesus-loving family. I just didn’t realize it wouldn’t be so easy, and that I would make mistakes, and that I would even lose my temper and raise my voice and become the very thing that I longed to protect my children from!! I would spiral down in shame, condemning myself and fearing I was MIS-representing Jesus! I vowed to try harder and do better, and thus became even more uptight and more stressed out in the trying. And one day I heard the Holy Spirit quietly whisper to my soul:

“Lori, you don’t have to get it all right.”

“I’m so sorry, God, I…”

“Lori. You don’t have to get it all right because Jesus got it all right for you.”

What? Like, for me? Like, in my place? As me? 

“God made him who had no sin become sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God.”

(2 Corinthians 5:21)

Moms, the pressure is off!  You’ve become RIGHT. He took our sin and our punishment and our guilt and EVEN OUR SHAME! He invites us to receive His forgiveness (each and every day, every hour) as a free gift, that we might walk in the light, continually cleansed by His blood, and FREE!  He wants you to know that He is good and He is kind, and He has paid for it all! He fills in your gaps, is strong in your weakness, and will give your children all that you cannot! He wants you to REST in his grace; to rest in knowing you are clean and righteous because of Jesus! There is no more striving to get it all right! Jesus truly got it all right for you, and He wants you to rest in His love and gift and joy.

These three things have helped me more than any other in my 27 years of being a mom. Why? Because only when I see Father, see myself, and see my role as Mom as HE SEES them— which is the truth—can I relax and enjoy and BE the daughter of my Father He longs for me to be. And only THEN can I see my role as Mom as the greatest privilege and joy…but not as my identity.

Let’s say that again: Mom is a role God has given me; Daughter of God is my identity!  

When we begin to get that, girls, we can relax and let go of control and let go of fear. No more fear of failing; no more fear of our kids veering off course forever; He’s chosen you to steer, but He’s right behind you guiding you and correcting your course should you veer left or right!  He longs for you to enjoy the gift of motherhood, the gift of your children, and the blessings of joy he loves to see you delight in!

I am forever grateful to Father for the privilege of getting to be Clay and John’s mom. I am forever grateful I had parents and grandparents and generations of believers who prayed for me and modeled for me how to love my children well. Not perfectly, mind you, but well. I am grateful we desired above all things for our boys to know and love Jesus – above all.

You may not have had parents or grandparents like this. You may be some of the first in your family to even KNOW Jesus—do not despair! It is NEVER too late to start! You could be the very one to begin a generational lineage of Jesus-followers! You don’t have to do it alone:  you ARE part of a Jesus-loving Family! This is what God’s church is meant to be! You are surrounded by spiritual Mommas and Poppas whom you can learn from, ask questions, and be mentored by! Invite them for dinner!  Ask for their guidance and wisdom. We did. I have learned so much.  

I’m thankful we memorized and made up bathtub songs to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind.” I loved hiding the Word in their hearts from the earliest of ages. I love that Mama and Dada and Jesus and Bible were their first words—and our first priorities as they grew. I’m thankful that in all their studies of school, we always made studying the Bible the FIRST priority, and loving God the first goal in all things. I love that we worshiped every day of their young years and danced around the living room singing ‘King Jesus! Our great King!” I’m thankful we learned to pray and LISTEN for God’s voice as He is still speaking and guiding and leading them today.  I’m thankful we disciplined to “disciple” instead of to punish, and that we trained their hearts to love God first, knowing this would affect outward behavior.

These are things I have learned as a mom. None of these did I do perfectly! But all of them I did because I love Jesus, I knew He loved me, and my greatest desire is that our boys would love him too.

And now we are entering a new season of life: Years of planting seeds have resulted in bountiful new seasons of HARVEST: years of praying for their spouses has resulted in adding two beautiful daughters-in-law to our family. We started praying for our boys’ wives when they were infants; the Father loves when we ask HIM, and our prayers matter, moms. It’s never too late to start!  

Finally, this is my first Mother’s Day with a NEW role, a new TITLE: they are now calling me “Gigi!” And when I hold Millie Kate and sing over her, my heart explodes with overwhelming love—every time. And I sing through my tears, because I’ve seen through the years, we moms matter—every song we sing, every prayer we pray, but this is another topic for another blog.

For now, I pray you spend this Mother’s Day in joy and take a long walk, maybe with your kids. Maybe pushing a stroller through God’s beautiful world. Either way, as you go, remember there is a good Father walking with you, guiding you and loving you and enjoying you more than you will ever know. You are so dearly loved. You are never alone. And you don’t have to get it all right! Jesus is singing over you.  Relax, let go, and enjoy the ride.

Happy Mother’s Day!