Last Updated on June 20, 2018

I was one of those moms who bought all the books. I studied them. I bought books about training children, disciplining children, raising godly children, how to be a good mom, how to be a good wife, how to have the perfect budget, and how to keep my house clean. I bought books about hospitality and how to make my home homey. About breast-feeding and birthing, homeschooling and how to make my kids smart, successful, above average, kids who make a difference in the world. How to make them love learning and be avid readers. About  how to make healthy, organic, home-cooked meals.

I had books that friends had suggested, and books that had been given to me. Books about how to be a godly mom, and even how to study the Bible better (and surely, if I studied the Bible, I would be a good mom!). I had books about how to have family Bible time, and what I should do if my kids fell asleep in family Bible time. I had books telling me how my kids should dress, and what I should wear, and books about why people shouldn’t date. And then …

I threw them away.

Yes. You read correctly. One day I’d had enough. I couldn’t live up to all I was reading. Did I glean some things? Sure. I tucked away a lot of ideas that I thought I might use, and even implemented some of them. But most of what I read ended up on a mental list, added to a an already long list of reasons I was not a good mom.

So, one day I stood in front of my bookshelf, tired and worn out from a weight I couldn’t carry, and I started to go through every book. One by one they ended up on the floor, in a pile meant to be thrown away. I kept a few books. But most of them ended up in the throw-away pile. As each one hit the floor with a heavy loud thud, the weight began to slowly lift as my mental list became shorter and shorter.

Oh, I know the authors didn’t mean to add to my burden. They were trying to be helpful. Even the one who insisted that I needed to potty train my 2-year-old by hosing him down in the back yard if he had an accident (I never did that!), or the one who insisted that every child should love reading (they’ve never met my son … or me!), or the one who promised that if we homeschooled our kids and kept them away from “the world” that they would love God (they forgot the part about sin being something that is within all our hearts, at the moment we are conceived), or the ones who told us all the things we could do to raise godly children (but forgot to remind us that it is really only God that can do a work in a person’s heart).

All of them meant to be helpful.

But all it did was add more weight to my already weary self. Which caused me to walk in condemnation. Which made me a not-so-loving mom when my kids didn’t live up to all I was reading, or my house wasn’t perfect, or my meals came from Costco …

I put those books in the dumpster and then I looked to God, tired and weary. I asked Him:

  • to show me what He wanted my home and family to look like.
  • to help me to get my nose out of the books, and to help me really see my children.
  • to help me to get to know my children as individuals, and that He would give me wisdom for each one.
  • to work in their hearts, and in mine.
  • to forgive me for listening to too many voices.
  • to pursue the hearts of my children, and then I began to pursue my children as individuals.

I began to walk away from the burdens I had taken on, and asked God to give me His heart for my home and family, day by day. Hour by hour. Minute by minute. Second by second.

The truths that He continues to reveal are so much simpler than all the information I had found in most books. It has been very freeing. Here’s what He continues to teach me:

  • to loosen up and enjoy my home and children.
  • that His approval is what matters.
  • that it’s okay to allow my kids to be themselves, and for them to grow at their own pace.
  • to laugh with my kids … not because a book told me I should, but because I am getting to know them and they are really funny people!
  • that every moment doesn’t have to be a teaching moment, because even though I am one way God uses to teach my children, He is busy teaching them too!

And I am becoming the mom I was always meant to be.

Sure, I still buy books. I even know a few authors. One of my dearest friends, and one of my favorite people in the world, recently came out with a book entitled Be the Mom. She didn’t originally mean for it to be a book. It started as a journal written for her daughter to read when she grew up. She shares about the danger of “Doing” and the importance of “Being.”

The key word is “Be.”

And you know what I love most about this book? The author! Her kids are grown, and she has been a mom. She does everything in her power to be a mom. She cheers them on, allows them to be themselves, and has lived what she has written.

It’s about being … not doing.

I am so much more careful about buying books now. I am careful to look at the message, to ask God to show me if this will be a help or a burden, or if the particular things taught in the book are principles He wants to teach me Himself in a way that fits my unique situation.

I am not preaching about the evils of book reading, as I know God can use the written word, and it is a powerful means of communicating truth. But I want to remind you that the expert is only found when we look to the One who created our children individually, and knows them much better than any author ever will.

Consult Him. Pray. Be a mom. Pray some more.

And if you have time, very cautiously buy a book.

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  1. Wow, this really hit home. I have all those books myself. Most I have read, some I haven’t. Thank you for posting this today. I really needed to hear/read it.

  2. Sarah Steffen says:

    They did not send me away from the hospital with a handbook of tips and instructions. Nope, just a 6lb 8oz cooing human. He was mine to care for in any best way. I knew nothing! How exciting! A new task we would learn together!

    Well, sort of. We were blessed with many moms who shared gallons of advice for us to muddle through and play with. So…I guess we followed some good advice or made up the rest and I think that mostly it had worked out okay.

    He is now 15.6 years old and entering this school year as a Sophomore. Did I also mention he is @158lbs, 5’11”, AND diabetic. Diagnosed at 17mos oold? What to do now? I have no idea, at least none my son will tolerate from me as I have aged past cool and funny. Weed pulling is not for him anymore.

    What do I do now? I think a whole lot of nothing. How sad that makes me feel.

    1. Sarah, You can pray for him, love him, celebrate him, and pray some more! Have you heard of my book “Grace Gifts: Celebrating Your Children Every Day” ? It might help. Feel free to email me if you’d like!

  3. Abby from Belgium says:

    Amen! And thank you Gina! Thank you so much! Very eye-opening!
    I might give it a try: going through my book cases chucked full with beautiful christian advice.

    Many blessings from a Flemish christian


  4. well said. I felt the same burden from all the books I also read, trying to be the perfect mom. it was an important lesson for me that it is He who does the work through me. It is a responsibility I’ve been given but HE is responsible to so the heart work.

  5. Holley-Marie Biggs says:

    Thanks so much for this post. I love the mom life today emails I get every day. This was a timely message my heart needed to hear. I love how the Lord uses other moms to encourage me where I am…in the thick of it…wondering when I will get a breath (not anytime soon with an 8 month old). 4 kids ideally seemed like the perfect number but practically not so much…it’s an adjustment and at the end of summer break and school starting next week this was so refreshing to hear. Thanks!

  6. I love your article! My oldest daughter just left for college and my youngest will start high school next month. Just last week I went through two bookshelves and made a huge stack of over 120 books to donate! I think I had every book you mentioned!! I could not take one more day of the guilt of not reading them. Many of them were helpful during certain times, however, trusting in God to guide me as a mom and to work through me to love our precious girls and let them be who He created them to be. My prayer is that I would be present in the moment and be the wife and mom He has called me to be. Thank you!

  7. Wow!! Amazing….that is something I need to do…turn to God for enlightment. Thank you!!

  8. Ja'Nell Whaley says:

    Thank you so much for posting this message. I am mom that loves the Lord, my husband, and my very “strong willed” three year old. I must say I often feel overwhelmed as I am working mom, and staying at home is not an option as my husband started restaurant 2 years ago and my income is needed. I would often feel sorry for myself- why can’t I be stay at home mom- why is my daughter always the most outspoken & energetic child in every scenario. I am always picking up a book raising your strong-willed child, spirited child, why is my child extra – you get the drift.

    However, in my heart I know that God is Sovereign he teaches me how to love and discipline my child, and he created her with this personality and it is my joy and privilege to help guide her into the woman she will become. Today I will make a decision to continue to trust the Lord more and be thankful for my blessings. Yes I may have to work but – I should be thankful to have flexible schedule and the ability to telework from home and get Fridays off.

    At first I thought I was writing this message to you, but now after reading it again. I realized I wrote this message for me as a reminder to Trust God, follow sound wisdom, and just enjoying being a mom!

    Thank you

  9. Micah Day says:

    I completely identify with this and couldn’t agree more. I do hope younger mothers will heed your wisdom in this and save their mothers heart a lot of pain. As, a mother of 5, I have learned much and you are right on.