When You've Never Set the Table (On Motherhood and Feeling Like You Keep Dropping the Ball) - Sarah Mae
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When You’ve Never Set the Table (On Motherhood and Feeling Like You Keep Dropping the Ball)


With Amy, who clearly makes better decisions than I do.

“Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor.” Ecclesiastes 4:9

I was at my friend Amy’s house today, and as usual, she ended up speaking life right into my weary bones.

I’m beginning to think I’m just blogging these days to share her thoughts and wisdom. Which is fine by me because she is a beautiful, wise, gracious soul. Anyway, after about 3 hours of zero conversation because we had between us 8 kids (ages 2, 3, 7, 7, 8, 8, 10, 10…like whoa), and I was beginning to think we would never even finish a coherent sentence when the Lord carved out about 20 minutes of solid conversation between us, mostly which went like this:

Me: “I feel like I’m always failing at motherhood, I just keep dropping the ball. And I have a lot of fear…I just don’t know what I’m doing with my life.”

And then I start crying and we talk about how we miss our mothers (she lost her mom and my mom was never a mom), and in the lament and remembering the importance of grieving, she said, “You were never given what it takes to set the table, and so here you are trying to serve, but you’re still figuring out what linens to get and where to find them.”

Now Amy said a lot of wise and kind things to me today, some of which I’ll share in another post, but this about the table really struck me. For some of us, we were never taught or had it modeled to us how be mothers. It doesn’t come naturally and it’s a real fight sometimes. It isn’t that we don’t love our children and want to raise them well, it’s that we’re a bit behind trying to “find the linens.” But it’s this realization that helps us (me!) to do two things:

One, grieve the very real loss we’ve had. If you weren’t taught or shown how to be a mother in the day in and day out, that’s a loss. And if you don’t have a mother, or one who wasn’t involved much or had her own wounds to contend with, it’s a loss. And these losses aren’t insignificant (although surely the enemy will make you believe they are no big deal) and they matter to God. It’s healthy to grieve your loss, whatever it is.

Two, realize just how weak we are and much we need God.

I can’t mother without Him. I need His strength, His wisdom, His power, and most of us, His gentleness. He is so kind and such a gentle Father. My heart is constantly accusing me, but He is greater than my heart, and He is the One working all things out for good. Thank God. What a relief! I really can’t do it without Him, and that’s okay, because when I am weak He is strong. And His grace is sufficient for me.

If you feel like you keep dropping the ball as a mom, go before the Lord, hands up, “I’ve got nothing. Help me. Tell me the truth and help me receive it.” He knows you, He sees you, He loves you. We will never get it all together as moms, as women, as humans. And that’s okay, because we were never asked to get it together. We were only asked to believe and receive and follow by faith. He holds us up when we can’t do it, and He gives us what we need to keep on.

So I’m holding onto Him with all I’ve got, believing the truth that I am not condemned, that I am loved right now, and that He is doing the work in me that needs to be done for me to be holy. And my kids, who I adore so profoundly, I am also holding up to Him. Because I will fall short, but He never will.

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9


P.S. If you need to just soak up some truth right now, close your eyes and listen to this.

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  • http://www.talesofthevidaloca.wordpress.com Kaylee Vida

    So beautifully said. My mom also was not always a great example of a mom, especially when I became a mom. So often I feel like I just have to figure it out as I go, and that I fail miserably. And then I come before God, and just cry out, “I don’t know what I am doing! Help!” I can’t do this on my own. God intervenes and shows up. I love the analogy of setting the table!!

  • Mandy

    I spent the morning weeping on my bedroom floor over my failings and shortcomings. You have no idea how much I needed this. Thank you.

  • Erin @ My Mommy World

    I’m in the same boat…had a mom who wasn’t around and didn’t show me how to be a mom myself. Now I feel like I’m floundering half the time. I thought the pain of not having a real mom would fade over time, but it’s still there and peeks out at me once in a while. It’s good to know I’m not the only one 🙂

  • http://joythacker.com/ joy thacker

    I had a wonderful mom, but my heart goes out to those of you who did not. I LOVE your analogy of the table. I have a several friends who struggle with theses same issues. No idea where to begin putting food on a plate let alone serve it. Thank you Sarah for sharing this timely post!!

  • Christine H

    Thank you for sharing this. My relationship with my mother is very painful, and I can relate to this. I spent some time at His feet after reading (thank you for the song!) and God reminded me of your book, “Core Lies”. Time to dig it out again!!!

  • sandi merritt

    Hi again Sarah. Thank you for this post as I’m failing today too (and my mary/Martha study challenge will not be complete in 31 days! ) My mother was bi polar so there was so much that she couldn’t be to me. Add to it that my sister was a special needs child there was little left for me. I found I had to grieve her death in 2 ways; the current loss and shock of death and all that never was and would never be fixed. I was supremely blessed to listen to Brennan Manning classic sermon “Abba Father” it was healing. I hope you get a chance to listen to it too. Keep being real cause the Lord knows we need that!

    • http://www.likeawarmcupofcoffee.com Sarah Mae

      I love that sermon! And keep on, friend. You are not alone.

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