by Sarah Walton
My mom and I used to have a tumultuous relationship. During my high-school years, our differences in personality and perspective (as well as my immaturity) caused a deeply painful season in our relationship. During one of my exasperated outbursts, I cried out, “I never want to be like you!”
Now that I’m a mom, I know the pain those words must have inflicted on her. But by God’s grace, that wasn’t the end of our story. After a few painful years, God grabbed hold of my heart, and He began to restore and heal our relationship. However, as much as I can now say that my mom is a woman I greatly admire and I want to be more like, we are still wired differently. My teenage self was irritated that she wasn’t more like me. My young-mom self was insecure because I wasn’t more like her. Now, I see that I can appreciate our differences and celebrate both her strengths and mine.
My mom is a naturally structured, self-disciplined, rule-following, organized, type A personality. I, on the other hand, have always been bent toward going with the flow, being less structured and more introspective and highly sensitive to the world around me. If I’m being honest, before the Holy Spirit started His work in my life, rules seemed more like suggestions than obligations (which is why I jokingly say that I’ve been a great sanctifying tool in my parents’ lives!).
Now, as I navigate my own motherhood journey, I’ve often wished I were more like my mom, so that cleaning and organizing closets invigorated me rather than paralyzed me and so that charts and structured plans were successfully created and followed through on, rather than leaving me overwhelmed.
Recently, I shared with my mom my feelings of guilt about not having more of her strengths. She said something I will never forget: “Sarah, God made you and me different, with different personalities, perspectives, strengths, circumstances—and children. Use the strengths He’s given you, rather than getting caught up in trying to fit into another mold. God knew what He was doing when He made you the mother of your children. The very things you perceive as weaknesses are actually strengths that God has given you for your unique calling and family. You can learn from what other moms find helpful, and you can pray for God to grow you in areas of weakness, but tap into the strengths of your unique temperament and ask God to use those to teach, train, and love your children well.”
That wisdom has been life-giving for me, and I pray it will be for you as well because, just as our children are uniquely wired, we too are “fearfully and wonderfully made”—and that includes how our various personalities have been crafted by our Creator. We can say, “Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well” (Psalm 139:14). God doesn’t make mistakes.
This article is an excerpt from He Gives More Grace by Sarah Walton and Linda Green. In their beautiful 31-day devotional, this mother and daughter team share hard-won wisdom and biblical encouragement about God’s grace in the ups and downs of motherhood.