This post is going to be super-honest. Maybe even the most honest one I’ve written so far.
The first time motherhood slapped me in the face was when my first child was born. I had no clue what I was doing, felt completely incompetent the first several weeks (still do at times!) and at one point I thought I was losing my mind. Motherhood hit me like a ton of bricks and everything that (I thought) was once in my control was gone. And I like control. A lot.
I know most moms can relate to this initial shock of motherhood. You don’t really know what to expect, even though people try hard to prepare you before the baby comes. Their well-meaning advice is…nice. But no one told me the nitty gritty, brutally honest reality of motherhood. Why didn’t anyone tell me? I vaguely remember people making jokes about not getting any sleep or the terrible twos, but that’s about it. They mostly told me the fuzzy, fluffy stuff. No one told me that it would feel like an open-handed slap across the side of my face and sting for some time and then leave me feeling like, “What the heck just happened?”
This summer it happened again. I was seriously slapped by motherhood which resulted in a come-to-Jesus moment (literally) and revealed a lot about the condition of my own heart. Ugh. It’s funny how God consistently uses my mothering and my children (my marriage, too, for that matter) to show me things about myself (good and bad) and to gently shape me to His will, if I let Him. This summer has been no different. Here we are just four days away from the start of another school year. The summer has been fun. It was actually a lot of fun, full of day trips, park hopping, picnics, many hours spent at the pool and too many bike rides to count. We made the most of the hot sunny days, spending most of our time outside and coming inside sweaty, tired and browned by the sun.
But it wasn’t all ice cream and push-pops. There were some real, ugly, stressed-to-the-max moments as well. More than I’d care to admit. And it was in those moments that God decided to show me some ungodly qualities that He wanted to…ahem…work on in me. To list a few… impatience, irritability, rudeness, anger, control, selfishness (big one) and pride. There it is, my friends. I said it. I struggle with these things. Sometimes daily. Sometimes all in one day. I pray for the Fruits of the Spirit regularly. I long to be a godly wife and mother and am willing to do whatever it takes to be those things. And something huge and of the greatest importance was revealed to me this summer. And it’s that I haven’t yet died to myself. I’m immensely selfish and oftentimes put my own agenda and control issues over loving my family the way God has called me to. And just so you know, it’s really hard for me to even admit that to myself, much less whoever else reads this. I’d have an idea of what I wanted to get done during a specific time of the day… whether it be chores, meal prep, returning a call or email, working on a project, whatever…and when constant interruptions, bickering between the boys or the general rowdiness of having three sons became too loud or too rough or too much, I’d become really annoyed and frustrated and freely showed that. Let’s just say I offered numerous apologies this summer, as well as asking forgiveness when mommy wasn’t so nice. God has very (very, very) clearly spoken to my heart this summer and whispered… Your approach is wrong… Try it My way…Humble yourself…Embrace My grace and show it to others. These are just a few of the things that He has repeated. And believe me, I already know my desperate need for Jesus, His grace and redeeming love. It’s a daily need and a longing to be rid of my own awful sin. And I’m thankful daily that there’s nothing that can separate me from His love. But He is asking me to die to myself. And take up my cross. Daily. Hourly. Minute-by-minute. (Luke 9: 23-24) To make the right(eous) choice, honor Him and love my family better. It is so hard. Sometimes it just downright seems too hard, if I’m being completely honest. I think I’ve even said that to God. No, I know I have. “This is too hard, Lord!” “I can’t do what You’re asking me to!” “Why does it have to be so hard?!” Because that’s what it FEELS like. There are moments of parenting, in marriage and life that seem too chaotic, out-of-control, bothersome or uncomfortable. My agenda versus theirs. My wants versus their needs. My selfishness versus their selfishness. My expectations versus their childish behaviors. Trying to do my pathetic best on interrupted nights of sleep, days that begin at 5 a.m. and with three spirited sons who tire me out in every way. I, alone, am not enough for them. I will never be enough. I fall short and fail them. I do. But (here’s the grace part) I was never meant to be enough for them. It was never God’s intention for me to be everything to them all the time. First of all, how would I grow in Christ and need Him? And second of all, my sons would have no need for a Savior if they found that in me. I see what You’re doing, God, and I like it. God is good like that. No kidding. And He is so faithful to take our rotten parts… reveal them to us, remove them and show us a better way (enter, Obedience). If we allow ourselves to be shaped, if we recognize and repent of our own sin and ask God to do the work in us, He will! Life is hard because of sin. Parenting is hard because you have two sinners trying to teach and love little sinners. God knows that we’re going to mess up. He doesn’t look upon us in disappointment and condemnation. Instead, He extends grace and mercy. He picks us up, dusts us off and strengths us to try again. And again. And again. We allow that grace and mercy to change us and our children see that, despite our failures.
Motherhood is hard and packs a mean punch. But so is marriage. And life. This has been a good summer. It’s also be a summer of hard stuff. Of trying to hold on to control, while at the same time longing for God to take it away and take over. Wanting my way, but knowing God’s will is better. Allowing myself to be led by my emotions, versus being led by His Spirit. I can’t help but be thankful for the hard stuff. Honestly. Because that’s where God makes me more like Jesus. That’s where He works in a mighty way and shows me a better way.
I read this last night and thought it worthy to share.
“There is nothing – no circumstance, no trouble, no testing – that can ever touch me until, first of all it has gone past God and past Christ, right through to me. If it has come that far, it has come with a great purpose which I may not understand at the moment. But as I refuse to become panicky – as I lift up my eyes to Him – and as I accept it as coming from the throne of God for some great purpose of blessing to my heart, no sorrow will ever disturb me, no trial will ever disarm me, no circumstance will cause me to fret – for I shall rest in the joy of what my Lord is. That is the rest of victory.” -quote by Alan Redpath