To the White-Knuckling Parent

By Lisa Hamel

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Motherhood comes naturally to some women. It’s all some women dream about most of their lives. These women can pop out countless babies with the help of no narcotics or epidurals and look like they’re more relaxed in the first hour of motherhood than I am after a ninety-minute massage! These peppy mama’s who delight in all things domestic and maternal are a marvel to me. I respect and admire these women so much. I think that motherhood is such a great blessing and when I see women who have given birth or opened their homes to more than the “average” two kids, I see it as a wonderful gift and I’m amazed. Amazed because this kind of woman is so different from how I’m wired. I was never sure that I wanted to have kids. I assumed that someday I would, but I just didn’t have the “mommy gene.”  

Thirteen years into parenting, I can tell you that often times I DO NOT make this look good. For many years I was the lady in the Target bathroom with two kids running in circles (one with a poopy diaper) who had toilet paper trailing off her shoe and her fly down as she walked out the door. (True story!) 

I still stress out and “white knuckle” through more than my fair share of motherhood. My kids are wonderful, energetic, strong-willed, and completely overwhelm me at times. I take comfort in a quote by Spurgeon that says, “A vigorous temper is not altogether an evil. Men who are easy as an old shoe are generally of little worth.” Though one could take offense by his words, I take them to mean that though my children have strong wills, God can do something amazing with them! My husband and I had a great marriage before kids and we fight to have a great one now. Parenthood has not been easy on us but we know the Lord has brought it to us for our good. One wise mother I know said to me, “nothing will sanctify you more than parenting.” It truly gets to the bottom of our own sin issues doesn’t it? The same little hands that build a block tower and send it crashing can send our pride, lack of faith, and idols crashing to the ground.

There are as many different types of parents as there are personalities. As a “white- knuckler,” here’s the good news:

1.   His strength is made perfect in our weakness. In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul talks about God’s power being made perfect in our weakness. Well, for years God chose to put my “strengths” on the back burner so that I could learn some important lessons and lay down my ideas about what my life should be. And now in motherhood, there is not a day I wake up where I think, “I’ve got this.” Most mornings begin with me in complete desperation for Christ’s power to work through me. It is not the kissing boo- boo’s or fixing gluten free quesadilla’s that’s difficult. It’s discerning their hearts, letting go and trusting Jesus when I want to analyze and protect them from everythingYou may not be great at this parenting thing in your own strength, but Jesus has supernatural strength for you!

2.   He makes beauty from ashes. Only our God could take a mess that we might make and form something beautiful from it. Isn’t that amazing? We don’t have to walk in fear because even if we screw up, He can re-create something amazing IF our hearts our surrendered to him.  

3.  Trying to control everything won’t help anything. What I want more than anything for my sons is for them to have a true, vibrant relationship with Jesus. I want them to know how much God loves them and I want them to be Daniel’s in their Babylon. But the tighter I try to control their world, the less I am trusting. The less I am abiding in the vine. (John 15) Do I believe that God is good? Even if they mis-step? Even if they make life-altering mistakes? Even if they are taken from me? If I live in surrender to the Spirit’s power, I will lay the foundations for the next generation. If I white knuckle and desperately scheme to direct their paths, I’m really trying to play God for God aren’t I?

Only God can be in control. Only He is sovereign. He sees you. He hears you. He understands how big this parenting gig is for you. And only He can do something about itAllow the God who loves your kids more than you do to carry you, as you imperfectly parent. His yoke is easy and His burden is light.  

If you surrender your will to the Spirit’s power, your children will witness the supernatural in your life. And that kind of witness cannot be ignored.


Lisa is currently "SAHM-ing." In the past she has been a pastoral counselor, a singer, a music director, and an accountant! She lives in a multi generational home in the Pacific Northwest with her two boys, her amazing husband, and her mother. She is a coffee snob and a health nut who loves to dance like no one is watching. Check her out on Instagram and Facebook!