The day I Zoomed with Bethany Kimsey, I was sick with COVID and quarantined in the smallest bedroom of the house (the preschooler’s room). I sat there in his wooden-railed twin bed, appearing on the Zoom image like I had just done hard time in the state penitentiary.
There was something about Bethany’s big heart for the gospel and her charming Southern expressions like “it’s a real slippery pig” that made me feel like I was transported from my sick bed onto her porch with a glass of iced tea.
I expected that Bethany and I would talk about motherhood since Bethany is a proud mother of eight children (yep… not a typo)–and that we did. But I also left our conversation with such helpful and practical advice for how to handle the everyday challenges of a mother with the gospel as our guide.
BETHANY’S PASSION FOR DISCIPLESHIP
“When I attended Baylor University, Louis Giglio (of Passion Church) was the college minister and was a huge proponent of life-on-life ministry in the discipleship sense.
Discipleship is something much deeper than just sitting at a Bible Study table. At its core, discipleship is the act of sharing my life with you to the extent you are willing to hear, and you sharing your life with me to the extent that you are willing to share.
The effects of life-sharing are support, encouragement, prayer-covering, wisdom, guidance, counsel, and an open invitation to ask questions. Living a life of discipleship means you are investing in–and actively pouring into–another follower of Jesus.
There are clear examples in scripture of what it means to walk relationally with one another like when Paul writes to the Thessalonians, “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing” (1 Thess 5.11).
As I grew into adulthood and then parenthood, I’ve developed a passion to walk with other mothers in discipleship. And I suppose the passion for motherhood makes sense– I have children ranging from 5 years to 21 years of age.
And now, with 25 years of experience discipling women, I think that there are still many women out there who don’t understand true discipleship and so they don’t even know to hunger for it. It’s a shame because there is a huge need for this relational community concept especially in our current culture.”
THE INTERSECTION OF THE GOSPEL AND MOTHERHOOD
“My heartbeat in whatever I do– whether it’s in my writing, my social media content, or my involvement at women’s conferences–I want these ladies to understand how to marry the good news of the gospel with their everyday lives. From what I’ve seen, most of the women I disciple to have a good handle of Biblical knowledge, but the knowledge often sits stagnant and isn’t readily applied to their life circumstances.
In other words, young mothers know and understand the truth of the gospel but they haven’t allowed it to seep into their current experiences.
And it’s understandable that there is a disconnect. Where does the gospel come into play when my toddler is tantruming in the middle of the grocery store? Where does the gospel come into play when my teenager tells me that they don’t believe in Christ anymore?
Mothering is a holy invitation though it doesn’t always feel like it.
Raising Christian children can often be misinterpreted as a bit of a checklist: make sure they know the Bible stories, make sure they go to church, etc. And this, in fact, may be a byproduct of being American; we are conditioned to seek the end result and to get things done.
What is the end result to raising children? We hear ‘get them to 18 and get them out of the house.’ But that’s not what God intends for our parenting journey to look like.
I want to be able to reach our children in meaningful ways; you know, not just slinging a ‘Jesus Juke’ at them (i.e. Jesus teaches us to be kind to one another! Knock it off!). I am as guilty as anyone to slapping a scripture onto a problem without remembering the heart of the gospel.
It is much more important for us to walk side-by-side with our children through life and using the gospel as our guide through every sticky situation.
I want women to understand that even in the most tedious, mundane situations like wrestling with a child over bedtime, we can remember the truths of the gospel to reframe our situations.”
REFRAME PARENTING CHALLENGES IN LIGHT OF THE GOSPEL
“Our natural reaction to discord with our children is often, ‘You know better than this!’ or ‘I have told you this 14 million times!’” Now, don’t be fooled into thinking that I am preaching from a high horse. I have messed up as many times as any other mom. I have reacted out of my flesh. I have weakened relationships. I have condemned out of shame. It is but the mercy of our God who guides me every day. He is patient with me even when I mess up several times in a row.
Now, the unpleasant feelings in and of themselves are normal. We are human. We give ourselves grace if we react out of our flesh.
But a better approach is to reframe through the lens of the gospel. Before I talk to my child, I
need to do the 5-min bathroom reframe (Free PDF printable included below).
First, I separate us. I put the child in a safe place where he/she can experience quiet (not the same as time-out; this is not a punishment), and then I do the same for myself. I like to use my Master bathroom as a quiet space for a few minutes. When we are quiet, we are going to have a much better chance of hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit.
I spend a few moments sitting with the Lord to examine what is going on inside of me and how it might need to be adjusted. There is so much purpose in the pause. There’s so much that God can do when we take that pause.
In fact, I created a reminder to myself for these very moments. I wrote out the process of the reframe and taped it to my bathroom mirror.
- What am I feeling? (Anger and frustration with a defiant child)
- What am I believing as a result of this feeling? (I’m not succeeding as a mother). Because we have an enemy who loves to condemn, this is a great opportunity for him to swoop in and try to tear us down further. Be wary of this.
- What is the truth of God’s word? Lord, these children belong to you. (I have been issued an invitation to be the in-person conduit for Your will). My value does not rest on my child’s behavior. The gospel tells me that my value has already been determined at the cross. My identity is locked in as the daughter of the King. I have been redeemed and set free. My worth has nothing to do with how well I mother today. I need to parse out and own my part of the conflict. I need to repent of that sin.
- What is the next right step? I open my heart and listen for direction, and I am often guided to good consequences and what steps need to be taken next.
This reframe can set our hearts free. A battle was just waged. The Spirit has helped me reframe what might have gone the enemy’s way.”
Feel free to download this graphic and add to your bathroom mirror just like Bethany has done.
THE REFRAME ANCHORS US
“You know, we live in a culture that tells us that what we feel is our truth. But feelings come and go and don’t necessarily reflect our truths at all. So allowing the feelings to be processed is important, but our truth in the Lord is an anchor despite the crashing waves of feelings.”
It is sage guidance like this 5-minute bathroom reframe that mothers would glean from having a mentor like Bethany to disciple to them. Finding a local women’s Bible Study or MOPS group may allow you to either learn from someone further down the parenting road, or pour into someone who is not quite as far as you are.
Let us not leave alone the women who are in the throes of these spiritual and parenting battles. Strength in numbers, mamas.