A Standard for Moms Almost Killed Me, My Family, My Relationships, and My Joy {part 1}

by GfG on August 19, 2014 · 3 comments

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I shared awhile back about why I left legalism.  It was one of the most painful situations I have ever had to deal with and that’s saying a lot. I’ve not shared much of the journey.  Today, I’d like to share about the lady who opened the door to freedom for me and gave me hope.

Her name is Carol Barnier.  And it happened at the Texas Home School Coalition Conference.

I shared a tiny bit of the freedom she offered me in this post and this one, but those were really minuscule as compared to what I really found, but took a while to fully embrace.

As I attended the THSC Conference that year, I was already having my heart broken.  I saw with new eyes the friend that had fueled my legalism.  I saw the lack of grace.  I saw the judgement cast on those who didn’t see issues her way (television shows, movies, clothing, cleanliness, child training, homeschooling, and more). I saw the barbs inflicted.

I saw it all with new eyes.

I had stepped back emotionally from the friendship, though she hadn’t noticed, but I was still greatly struggling with releasing the idea that the true godly standard was this:

a Christian homeschooling mom of many who wears fashionable, but modest clothing (extending past the knee and past the clavicles) and runs a home where the children are loved and well trained to joyfull obey quickly in every area and in every request and whose events, relationships, time, and social interactions are deeply controlled by the parents (including the near adult children) and whose home and life are organized and most always neat so she can exercise hospitality and home keeping without struggle when facing daily life.

checklist with words

Yes, that was the standard set for me.  Me.  A naturally unorganized, easily distracted, messy, relational person.

I had tried and tried and tried.  Don’t get me wrong, becoming more organized and neat was necessary every time we added a child into our family, but I am not naturally either of those.  I used tools to help me, but the real problem was that I was telling my mind and spirit that the lack of ability in these areas was a spiritual problem and that I was falling short of God’s best for a Christian woman.

I was heaping burden after burden onto myself.  And I was letting others do it to me too.

I was encouraged and flat out told to take better control.  To have control.  To control.

The trying never ended.  I was always trying.

And I was crumbling on the inside all the while.  Even while I watched relationships suffering, I was told, “Just draw tighter boundaries and have more control!”  Every time a red flag waved, I told myself it was my flesh fighting, not the Holy Spirit warning me.

Then an event happened in which scales seemed to literally fall from my eyes as I watched this woman.  I no longer saw the control issue in a good light.  It became ugly.   And ungodly.

Still… the standard set for me had been there for a long time and I while I was gladly releasing the friendship, I wasn’t gladly releasing the standard.

I felt like a failure.

That is where Carol Barnier found me, though she didn’t know it.  I sat near the front row of her talk at THSC in 2010, hoping to glean some kind of tip on how to be better organized since the title of the talk had something to do with help for the naturally unorganized.

I found those tips.

But I found much, much more than that.

I found freedom.

I bawled through most of Ms. Barnier’s talk that summer day.

See, she didn’t just share tips for the naturally unorganized, she shared the beautiful truth that we are to walk in our unique design without apology and without shame, learning and growing all the while, but not thinking we are design failures because we are not designed like other moms.

This little scenario Ms. Barnier shared (I’m greatly paraphrasing since there is no way I can remember verbatim four years later) has stuck with me and will forever be my freedom catalyst story.

There are different homeschooling moms.  Some walk into the conference, hair and make up just right, with their silent (or close to it) smiling and coordinated outfitted children following them in a line.  You ask her for a black Sharpie and she reaches right in to her bag, finding it in the appropriate spot, and hands it to you.

Then there are homeschooling moms like me who show up at the conference clothed and clean, mostly.  Their hair was washed, but the style part has escaped us.  Our children are somewhere near us, loud and clothed, but no where near coordinated.  You ask us for a Sharpie and we say, “Oh, I know I have one somewhere!” And then we dig around looking for it.

Don’t be fooled.  Just because the benefits of being the first kind of mom are easy to see, there are many benefits and praiseworthy traits in the second mom too.  You don’t have to be the first kind to be “right”.

I was stunned at first.  Then… I felt something completely different.

Come back tomorrow to hear the rest of the story.

Are you one of those two kinds of moms?   Are you believing a false standard? 


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