One day, Chandler spilled her third cup of milk all over my floor—the carpet, of course. I thought I was going to lose it.
Chandler’s milk spill actually happened later on the same day I vowed not to lose it. So every time she spilled her milk, I responded with, “No problem.” I really said it behind gritted teeth because I did see it as a problem. I didn’t like the spilled milk everywhere; I was the one who had to clean it up. Still, I refused to respond out of my emotions, so I said, “No problem.”
God had something more to teach me through this. When my daughter spilled her milk for the third time, I realized that the spill did not define her as a person. She wasn’t a klutz. She wasn’t a spiller. She wasn’t negligent. She wasn’t irresponsible. She simply spilled her milk.
While I was sitting there, laughing and having a wonderful conversation with my child, telling her she’s not defined by her mistakes, I realized I did not fully believe that about myself. Deep down, I had based my whole identity on my mistakes. The constant criticism I received as a child played within me like a broken record. Every single time I failed, I was treated to that inward refrain: “You’re a failure.” Whenever I had the opportunity to try something new, I would turn it down. I would think, “Oh, I’m not good at that. I don’t want to try it because if I do, I may fail.” I wasn’t willing to take risks or venture outside of my comfort zone. I was afraid of failure.
Then I read Jeremiah 1. God said to Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart” (Jer. 1:5 NIV). I also read in Ephesians that God “chose us in him before the creation of the world” (Eph. 1:4 NIV). God chose me; He formed me. God strengthens and protects me. He equips me to follow Christ, even when it’s outside of my comfort zone. That is my identity. I am not defined by the mistakes I made. What matters is who I am in Christ.
Now I take captive all of those negative thoughts and the broken record of parental criticism, and I replace them with the truth of God’s word in Jeremiah and Ephesians.
Now I choose to believe by faith in the truth of who God says I am, even when I don’t feel that way. I know I can rely on my identity in Christ. I know who I am. I am not defined by my actions. My mistakes don’t make me a mistake. I take negative thoughts captive in my own mind, and it makes me a better mom every time the milk is spilled.
Today I can tell my children without reservation, without gritting my teeth and grappling with frustration, that their identity is in Christ and a milk spill is no problem.