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Idealistic Notions and the Beauty of Grace

Jessalyn Hutto

As a young(er) woman I thought I had the motherhood thing all figured out. Before even being married I knew which books I would read and what “Biblical” methods I would follow in order to ensure my children were well behaved and godly. We (my future husband and I) would be the heads of a perfect Christian family. Our children would obey the first time, every time, and with a happy heart. There would be no embarrassing tantrums thrown at the local Target Super Store (by child or parent!) and we would never find ourselves repeating ourselves over and over and over again, gradually and consistently being tempted toward anger as our children struggled to obey even the simplest of commands. We certainly would NEVER find ourselves losing control and YELLING at our precious, obedient children. And yet, this sin nature that we are all affected by turned out to be much stronger than I ever imagined it would be.

When the Lord brought my husband and I together I had visions of a “perfect” Christian marriage. We were both passionately in love with the the Lord and hopelessly enraptured in one another. With the Word of God as our guide and a “comprehensive” understanding of our Biblical roles as husband and wife, we felt confident that we would have a marriage marked by unadulterated bliss, not by struggles against selfish, self-serving tendencies. And yet, sooner than later, we found out that this sin nature we are both affected by is much stronger than we ever imagined it would be.

Today I stand on the cusp of delivering a third little boy into our family and with the “experience” of 6 years of marriage behind me. Women who are just beginning their marriage journey or who have recently held their first positive pregnancy test might look toward someone in my position thinking I have it all figured out.

I have this blog where I love to talk about how the Word of God applies to real life and how the Gospel message is the lifeblood of all our salvation and sanctification and you may think that means I have this Christian life all figured out–that I am a perfect wife and mother.

But as I stand here (ok, ok, I am sitting), on the brink of adding another baby boy to our family who will grow to be a man one day who will either worship the Lord with his life or follow the course of this world, I am painfully aware of my inadequacies.

The reality of my own sinful heart and my complete and utter dependence on the Holy Spirit to transform me and work through me for the good of my husband and children is ever before my conscious meditations. I am not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. BUT, perhaps that is why I take so much joy in this God who lavished his love upon me anyway, this God who, though I consistently find myself failing, has bound himself to me forever.

Perhaps that is why I love to share this grace with you and encourage you to grab hold of it with me. Not because any of us are worthy of Christ, but because we are all so utterly unworthy and in need of his precious blood. Mostly it is because he is so kind to offer such an invitation to sinful women like us, to take us in our filthiness and minute by minute, day by day, month by month, and year by year beautify us, transforming us into the glorious image of his perfect Son.

Looking back at the expectations I had for my own Christian life as a young woman, I can’t help by laugh at how unrealistic they were and at how unlike my daily life they are. The interesting thing is that even as I am tempted to be disheartened by my own inability to embody the perfect wife and mother (let us not mention daughter, granddaughter, sister, church member, and friend), I am lifted to the highest of heights by the riches of the Father’s love for me in Christ Jesus. I am overwhelmed by the powerful work of the Holy Spirit within me and the rich fellowship I am granted through my adoption as a child of God.

My view of God is greater and higher today than it ever was as a young, idealistic woman. Perhaps that is precisely because I know now that this sin nature I am continually affected by is stronger than I could have ever imagined back then, but I think above all, it is because in seeing the painful reality of my sinful heart daily on display, I am consistently brought into the overwhelming presence of his great love and mercy. –And that is a majestic view that can’t help but enrapture this sinful woman’s heart!

In this upside down kind of way, I am lightyears ahead of where I ever imagined I would be.