I discovered a great tip for raising five boys: Throw them all into the woods for a few days with a giant bag of marshmallows and some plastic swords.
We love camping. Everyone comes home tired and dirty and a little sunburned. I get to soak up time with my little men without wondering what housework I should be doing.
One of my favorite parts of camping is the prep. My friend gave me a master packing list a few years ago. I spend the days leading up to the trip checking things off. Every year I try to pack something special and different. One year it was some new digging toys. This year it was homemade pizza pockets to cook around the fire.
But no matter how good my list is I always forget something. It can be as simple as forgetting my hat or as inconvenient as forgetting the hammer. This year my son “forgot” all of his underwear…
As we drive to our campsite my brain keeps turning: “One more thing. What’s one more thing I should have brought?”
It’s the part of my mom-brain that I can’t turn off, even after camping season is over. One more thing, one more thing…
What’s one more thing I should be teaching my kids?
What’s one more way to point them to Jesus?
What’s one more way to teach them godly character?
One more book I should read to them?
One more homeschool project?
One more family outing?
One more healthy habit?
One more life skill?
One more family memory?
We moms have this never-ending list running in the backs of our minds all day and into the late hours of the night. It’s the kind of list that motivates and haunts us at the same time. It simultaneously produces creativity and anxiety.
Unlike my camping list, this list has no end. I can snap the lid on my big plastic tub of camping gear, but I can’t snap the lid on raising these boys. How do I ever know if I’m doing enough?
The good news is the “enough” doesn’t come from me. It comes from Christ. In Colossians 2:14, Christ completed the only checklist that really matters: “Having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; He has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.” He took my sin and replaced it with His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21).
All of my motivation to do better and try harder has to start here. Christ is enough. My sin is gone. His righteousness is my righteousness. But my weakness still stares me in the face every day. What do I do with it?
2 Corinthians 12:9 shows that not only is my weakness not a hindrance to God’s plan, it is an integral part of it:
“And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.”
Be happy about my weaknesses? Then I have a lot to be happy about.
I can’t do it all – and that’s the whole point. My limitations show His limitless power. My weakness shows His strength. My sin shows His grace. And who is watching all of this? My kids. They’re not watching my checklist. They’re watching my faith. Who do I trust when things fall apart? Where do I look when I need help? Their eyes follow my gaze.
Instead of being driven by my endless mental list, I can be driven by grace. I know that I’m not trying to finish or perfect something. I’m simply walking through daily life with my kids – their weaknesses intertwined with mine – pointing them to Christ, enjoying His good gifts, and growing alongside them.
There are holes in my parenting. There are things that will never be crossed off my list. But instead of always thinking about “one more thing,” I can praise God that His grace is enough. I can enjoy each moment I’m in – each messy, imperfect, God-glorifying moment.
Books by Sara Wallace: