All May, here in A Rooted Home, we are exploring the stunning and transformative power of grace in the series, An Invitation to Grace. Bethany Kimsey is our next essay in the series. Bethany is a mother to 8 children. She has seen God radically change her messy motherhood from weary, anxious, and frantic to peaceful, joyful, and triumphant. She helps weary mothers win the battle against worry and fatigue as they understand their identity in Christ and rest in the hope of the Gospel in community with other moms. As a writer, speaker, and encourager of mothers, she wants to see a generation of Grace-Filled Warriors stand together and walk triumphantly behind the One who sets them free from performance, doubt, and fear.
It is my delight for you to get to know this lovely sister in Christ. Pull up a chair and a cup of coffee or tea and join me in warmly welcoming Bethany to our kitchen table today…
Guest post by Bethany Kimsey
Sitting in the car line waiting to pick up my child from preschool, I reminded myself to smile, no matter what was said. The pattern was always the same: a teacher listed off all the areas that needed improvements while my child skipped exuberantly over to hold my hand. My heart would sink. I would smile, nod, and promise to work with him. But all I would hear were thoughts condemning my motherhood. I would desperately want to scurry home, back to the confines of my house, where I knew how to handle his antics and work with his limitations.
So my heart was in my throat as the car line slowly rolled forward. I was ready, I thought, for today’s report, for what had transpired in the few hours of his first school day. I knew I would hear about his lack of listening, rough play, and inability to sit still. I steadied myself for the play-by-play of how he had needed redirection or had to sit quietly again at lunch. Oh, I wanted just one day of good reports, just one day where I believed what I was doing as a mother was working. I desperately needed to hear it was a good day.
Her first words began with, “I loved his exuberance today! He is so energetic, and I know he will be doing so many wonderful things the rest of the week in my class! His ability to sing loudly helped so much in circle time! I can’t wait to see him tomorrow!”
The van door slid shut, my child hurried into his car seat, and I slowly pulled away in awe of the words spoken over the exchange. As the year progressed, the daily reports continued to focus on his positives, his energetic exuberance, his voracious appetite for stories, his cheerful heart to serve her in classroom chores, his kindness for others.
“I delight in him, Bethany,” she said at our closing conference. “Not because he is perfect, not because he does it all well, but because the Creator wonderfully fashioned him. I believe in him, and I believe in you as his mom.”
Words of life, filled with an abundance of grace, began to rewrite the story I believed as a mother. Daily the adjectives she used to define my son became the words I spoke over him at home. Wild became energetic, loud became exuberant, bothersome became engaging, and annoying became inquisitive – simply because one teacher loved us both well. She helped shift my weary, overwhelmed heart, allowing me to see the soul of my child rather than his actions. She saw past the checkmarks and performance and began to teach me the beauty of grace coupled with long-term vision. She faithfully pivoted my gaze from my anxious doubts and fears to the One who created my son and chose me as his mother.
We often need someone else to model God’s grace before receiving it and then extending it. My struggle was not with my child, despite his crazy antics and exuberant personality. My battle was not simply cutting myself some slack and believing it would all work out in the end. My struggle was in fully believing the depths of God’s grace. Somewhere along my spiritual journey, I had accepted the lie that God’s grace depended on my merit—the more I mothered well, the more grace was then available to me. And the insertion of this lie into the story of my motherhood was causing painful chapters. I wonder have you experienced this too, somewhere along your journey?
As I clung to His grace, John 1:16 became a mantra in those early years with my son. For from his fullness we have all received grace upon grace. I learned His fullness offers a steadfast love despite all my mistakes and insecurities. From his fullness, we all receive. What do you and I receive? We receive Jesus Himself, not simply the benefits of knowing Him. He offers his calming presence in the discouraging moments, His gentle encouragement to keep going, His wisdom in moments of confusion, and so much more.
He began to inscribe new patterns of confidence and hope despite many difficult days in parenting. I began to learn that the more I surrendered my misgivings and worry before Him, the more His grace bolstered my heart and undergirded my resilience. “Grace upon grace” became an authentic experience. You see, here’s the meaning of that phrase: the pouring out of his grace is multiplied by our receiving of it—the more we hold, the more we get. Yet His grace frequently reveals itself most clearly in the desperate places where we long for hope. And the lie of performance wants to creep into that space and declare us ineligible receivers, condemned by what we may have done.
God wants us to have an ever-deepening wellspring of His grace. He came to rewrite our story that we may speak His grace to another. May you know today that God delights in you, not because you are perfect or because you do it all well. He delights in you because Jesus came for you with grace upon grace.