Recently, my oldest daughter and I were watching a show together when a commercial for Burlington Coat Factory came on. It features a woman praising Burlington for being the one place she can go to shop for all of her kids. All 3 of her kids. She said, “I never dreamed that I would have three kids.” This–having 3 kids–was presented as a big deal. Abigail looked at me and said, “Does she really think it’s hard to have three kids?” I said it appeared that way. Then she asked, “Did you think it was hard when you only had three kids?”
I almost said no. From where I sit now, those days when I just had my three little girls–although short-lived since boy one arrived after only 19 months–look gloriously easy. Two out of three napped, and the other was content to watch the Little Mermaid while I snoozed on the couch. Every single day. We did homeschool, but only one child, and only for an hour or so each day. If I took them all out, two could be buckled into a cart or double stroller while only one walked beside me. Hard? Ha!
Then I caught myself. She didn’t ask if I thought it would be hard now to have three kids. She asked if I thought it was hard then.
And you know what?
Of course I did! Because it was!
I can’t count the number of times I’ve been talking with another mom about some parenting issue or another, and she has said something like, “But you probably think I’m a wimp for thinking it’s hard when I only have two.” Or “I shouldn’t even be having any trouble–I only have three. You do it with six!”
As if you’re not allowed to think parenting is hard until you are the one with the most kids.
Here’s what I’ve learned during my parenting journey: God gives just enough grace.
When I had one child, I had grace to parent one child. It’s not like I was parenting Abigail with this big pool of mom-of-six grace. I got tired, mothering that one little girl. There were days when I thought that was very hard. One child. Hard. Yes.
It’s ok to think that your circumstances are hard. Because you know what? They probably are. They might not look hard to someone else. And there might be people that you look at and think, “What in the world are they talking about, saying they had a hard day?! What if they had to live my life??”
But each person, in their own situation, has hard.
God knows how much hard to measure out, and He gives just enough grace for you to cope with your hard. No less, no extra. This is true of parenting or any other life situation.
Sometimes, when you hear of a tragedy in another family, you may think, “How are they surviving? I would never be able to handle that situation.”
Well, no. Right now you wouldn’t. Because God hasn’t given you that situation, which means He hasn’t given you the grace for it.
God gives exactly the right amount of grace for the exact amount of hard in your life at the exact moment you need it.
That’s why worrying is so useless. Worrying is trying to deal with some future situation on today’s grace.
Matthew 6:34 says “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
If we don’t have tomorrow’s trouble yet, then we don’t have tomorrow’s grace yet either. And if today’s troubles are enough for today, then so is today’s grace.
God doesn’t give trouble without the necessary grace. And He doesn’t give the grace until He gives the trouble.
So stop worrying about tomorrow or next year or the world your children will live in as adults. You don’t have grace for that yet.
And stop comparing your hard to someone else’s hard. You don’t have to apologize to me because you had trouble getting your two kids ready for church. I had trouble when I had two kids, too.
Grace never comes up short, and there’s never a stockpile.
God measures perfectly. Every single time.