When it feels like you can’t hold it all together, remember it’s God who holds you with loving compassion and steadfast grace.
Those first few months when my son was a newborn were hard. I slept between feedings during the night. I followed the night time cycle mothers know all too well: feed, sleep an hour or two, and feed again. Repeat.
In the morning, I’d calculate in my mind how many total hours of sleep I got from the interrupted sleep I caught in between feedings. ‘Six. That’s not bad. You can make it on six,’ I’d tell myself. Despite my pep talk, I couldn’t make it. I was exhausted.
Over time, I became obsessed with sleep. It was an elusive thing that always moved farther out of my reach. I strategized ways to get more. But even when I did lie down to sleep, the slightest noise would awaken me. Sometimes no matter how tired I was, I couldn’t fall asleep. I told myself, ‘If only I got a solid eight hours. I’d be a happier person. I’d be a better mom.’
You could say I worshipped sleep.
What? Worship sleep? You might think it’s impossible to worship something we need, something that is good for us. In truth, even good things become idols when we turn to them to give us life and hope.
...For moms, the best way to determine if something is an idol is to look at how we handle the daily stresses and pressures of motherhood. Because, to be honest, motherhood is hard and filled with hard and challenging days. There are always interrupted plans, sick children, temper tantrums, overwhelming chaos, and bone-weary days.
...But our God is faithful. He promised to send a Savior and he did. We need to steep our hearts in the Word of God, reading and rereading what God did for us by sending his Son to redeem us from sin. If God rescued us from our worst fear—eternal separation from him—how can he not also deliver us from our current fears?
...Moms, we do need help and hope. Motherhood is challenging and sometimes downright hard. But our help and hope are not found in a change of circumstances, in a pint of ice cream, or in a new parenting method. Our hope is found in Christ, in who he is and what he has done for us. He is our help and our source of life.
“I’m pretty good at imagining possible outcomes. If I could clock overtime for the number of hours I’ve laid awake at night thinking through plans, hopes, & concerns for the coming days, I’d be an incredibly wealthy woman! The waste of it, however, is tremendous.
It doesn’t matter how prepared I am. Something can always go wrong. It doesn’t matter how worried I am. A solution may come in the morning. It doesn’t matter how afraid I am. The bad news may never materialize. It doesn’t matter how excited I am. Plans can change in a heartbeat.
James warns his readers about wasting too much of today’s energy & opportunity on schemes to control the future. He writes, ‘Come now you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such & such a town & spend a year there & trade & make a profit’—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.’
As moms, we experience these shifts in plans all the time. Your plans to achieve a master’s degree are derailed when the pregnancy test shows a plus sign. You’re about to head out the door when a diaper explosion rocks the baby carrier. The birthday party guests are due to arrive any minute when your toddler spikes a high fever & pulls at both ears. All the kids are having great fun until your child breaks an arm.
We can imagine, plan, & scheme all we want to; nevertheless, tomorrow’s interruptions & delays will often override the best-laid plans.
...Even though it’s okay to think ahead & make plans, our worry shouldn’t outpace today’s circumstances. Jesus doesn’t encourage us by taking away our troubles. He doesn’t smooth out life’s journey so that we never experience any inconveniences or fears or struggles.
He reminds us that he already knows what’s around the corner: more trouble. Until this life ends, trouble will always spring up to greet us. We can’t control the struggles we will encounter, but we can rest in the one who carries us through the messes of life.
Our great King promises to walk with us and to help us.”
“‘So, when can I see you and the kids?’
This conversation has been looming over me for months, heavy with dread & anticipation. But I made the phone call. ‘Mom, I really don’t think that’s a good idea. Maybe once I can see some real change, we can start spending more time together.’
My relationship with my mother is anything but typical. Growing up, it wasn’t something that I could articulate well. It wasn’t until college, sitting in a psychology course & learning about emotional abuse, that I started to be able to name my experience.
Now that I’m a mother, I worry about how my experience as a child will affect my two, small children. How can I possibly mother when my very frame of reference is broken?
By adopting a new one.
The Bible tells us that everything in God’s original creation was good. As sin entered the world, everything changed. Like a drop of dye in a glass of water, sin quickly spread throughout God’s good creation, until nothing was untouched—human relationships were poisoned.
Fortunately, God didn’t not abandon humanity in its broken state. Almost in the same breath he used to pronounce judgment upon us for our sin, he gave us hope.
By his perfect life & death upon the cross, Jesus paid the penalty necessary for our redemption. In doing so, he secured for us an imperishable, undefiled, & unfading inheritance which waits for us, even in the thick of our suffering.
When our hearts ache because our earthly parents failed us, it’s this hope that we cling to. We now look to God as the example of the perfect parent, rather than looking to the broken, earthly one we experienced.
Though we still feel the painful effects of our fallen world, we have reason to rejoice. The God who says, ‘Behold, I am making all things new,’ is working in us as well.”
Today’s article from @alissamgriffin addresses child abuse. While we believe the gospel breathes new life into all relationships, this topic requires sensitivity. We encourage anyone who has experienced abuse to seek counsel from your pastor, an older woman in your church, or a trained biblical counselor.
Infertility is painful for countless reasons, but one reason is women can feel isolated from or misunderstood by their loved ones.
I know this struggle all too well.
Now that I’m in my early 30’s, I’m the only woman in my circle of friends who does not have children. I respect and admire their commitment to their families, for that is a good, godly calling! However, the natural result tends to leave me, a childless woman, feeling removed or not properly cared for.
How, then, should you love your friend suffering through infertility?
There isn’t one ideal approach, and every woman is different but here’s what I’ve learned. By leaning into Christ, you can love and serve her well through these three Gospel-centered ways:
(1) Mourn with her.
(2) Remind of her of her identity in Christ.
(3) Speak truth, not fluff.
There is unending grace for you and your friend as you navigate this trial together. Be committed, be bound, be unshakable.
Literally. As in I’m physically, emotionally, & mentally reaching the end of my strength most days. At no other time in my life has opening my eyes in the morning been painful,—oh, how it hurts.
I’m not the polished, level headed, organized mom I aspire to be. In fact, I’m more aware of my inability than ever.
Yet somehow here, in the mere minutes of prayer before my kids wake, despite my sleep-deprivation & all the details that must be managed for the day, yes, in my weakness, God is meeting me.
He’s showing himself strong & keeping his promises.
In 1 Cor. 1:8-9, Paul writes, ‘For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.’
Do you see it? The trial Paul experienced exposed his weakness & forced his reliance on God. A few verses later, he writes:
‘For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory’ (v. 20).
Slowly but surely I’m learning to rejoice in the inadequacies that bind me to Jesus & release me to abide in him. I’m finding freedom—not guilt—in the fact that I bring absolutely nothing to the banquet table & yet his banner over me is love.
I’m learning to find joy in seeing Christ work through my weakness & in spite of me, for his own glory.
In this way, the hard work of motherhood is a gift, a sharp lens through which we clearly see our own weakness & our Savior’s all-encompassing strength. This was never about us or our motherhood journey. Our every life circumstance is orchestrated by his grace for his pleasure.
He knew motherhood, like life, would lead us here—to the end of ourselves, so he made a way for us to experience the joy of confessing our weakness, surrendering our strength, and resting in him.
This is gospel hope.
‘You know, babe, I wish I could have known you would be all into this … birth stuff before we got married.’
We became pregnant just a few short months after our honeymoon, which unlocked inside of me what has become an enduring life passion: childbirth.
My favorite portion of Romans 8 is where Paul uses childbirth as a metaphor to teach us about our ultimate future glory.
‘For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God … For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.’
Whether it’s something as significant as a waiting to see a child to come to saving faith in Christ or something more temporal but strongly felt as waiting for a child to fall asleep (PLEASE!), we all know what it means to wait for something with eager longing.
But the waiting of childbirth—and, so, creation—is marked by groaning. This is not a comfortable waiting. It is waiting punctuated by great effort and, oftentimes, pain. The tension of ‘already but not yet’ is palabable in the delivery room. Every birth attendant knows that the baby is coming; but often as the hours or days of labor creep by, it is easy to fall into wondering if the baby will actually ever come
Christians are a people keenly aware that this world is not as it should be. When we look around and see hatred and bigotry, inequality and racism, poverty and wars, it would be right for us to literally moan, ‘When will Jesus redeem this once and for all!?’
Praise God that we have assurance that day IS coming—the baby WILL be born!—though it will be at an ‘hour no one knows.’
Just like a woman in labor, may we endeavor to put those groanings to work. May our groans sound like women who shout gospel truth through the labor halls of life. And may we know when we get to see our Savior face to face, it will be cause for infinite joy—a moment that will make the breathtaking moment of looking into the faces of our own children once they’ve been born pale in comparison.
“‘Am I going to continue to trust God, even if he never fulfills the longings of my heart?’
That question filled my mind after the doctor informed me that I was born with a somewhat rare medical condition that prevented me from bearing my own babies. The news almost devastated me. For the first time in my life, I faced a situation I couldn’t quickly fix or work my way out of. It didn’t seem fair. With a tear-stained face, I entered into the greatest wrestling match of my life with the Lord.
‘Where was God in my childlessness?’
‘How does the Bible speak to my suffering?’
‘Why would God withhold apparent good from me?’
Maybe you’ve asked similar questions. Maybe you’ve struggled month after month to get pregnant, to no avail. Maybe you’ve lost a precious little one by miscarriage. Maybe you’ve had one child, but are experiencing second hand infertility and another baby won’t come.
God met me in the midst of my longing for motherhood.
As I searched scripture for hope in the midst of my suffering, I learned that the pages of the Bible weren’t silent on the topic of childlessness. Seven barren women are highlighted in the Bible.
I’m glad the Lord included the struggles of other women like myself—women longing to be mothers.
Because the good news the gospel offers in the midst of our pain is that our identity isn’t in our ability to bear babies. The greatest role of a woman is not to be a mother, but rather to glorify God with our whole lives in whatever circumstances we find ourselves.
Biblical womanhood is about boldness, tenacity, tender heartedness, and loving the Lord and his people.
Even if we never have that longed for baby; even if our family looks different than we’d imagine, we can rest in the fact that the Lord promises his presence. In him, we can find hope.
Press into him and allow him to speak life into your soul.”
It started less than an hour after she was born. Still exhausted and overjoyed after delivery, when the long-awaited newborn daughter I cradled began rooting for her first meal, I fed her. Three years (and a baby brother) later, feeding these children remains my primary task in life.
When so much of my brain space is occupied with thoughts of my children’s meals, it’s no surprise that it comes up in conversation with fellow moms. A new friend at a playground exclaimed that watching my toddler son devour a hardboiled egg made her feel guilty about her kids’ chips...
I guess even I feel some guilt about feeding my family sometimes.
...if you can’t shake your longing for guilt-free eating, the gospel reminds us we are in good company. We’re all groaning for the redemption of our bodies at that marvelous feast, but we miss the mark when we assume food choices can provide us a bit of moral superiority on the way. It’s not that caring about food or farming is bad, or that God doesn’t care about it himself. It’s that dividing food into categories that signal our success as a parent, maybe thinking that a “clean” or “natural” menu is a way to uphold our virtue or that feeding our kids more vegetables than crackers can ease our guilt, can go too far...
The Christian life is not about what we’re putting in our mouths, but what has come out of God’s. Our food choices are of some value, but not eternal value; God’s word stands firm forever.
As mothers, we can be tempted to find our righteousness in giving our children the picture-perfect childhood, filled with super-food meals and the best education possible. Somehow we falsely believe that if we can be the ideal Proverbs 31 wife and mother, we will earn favor with God.
Yet our hope is solely in what Christ has already done, what he accomplished for us on the cross.
Our righteousness will never come from being good enough. It comes from Christ, who granted us new life in himself and placed trust in our hearts—trust in the one atoning death that covers all our sin. Second Corinthians 5:21 tells us, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Every day, each time we fail to keep God’s perfect commands, what glorious assurance we can have. For we know that our righteousness is not in anything that we do, but in Christ alone. When we fail, when we sin, amidst the remorse and regret, we can thank God for his commandments. For they reveal our imperfections and lead us to the cross, our only hope of ever being counted good enough."
How can a busy mom find rest for herself? It’s ultimately through cultivating a place of rest that can never be taken away and isn’t restricted to one day of the week. It’s a place of rest in the heart, rooted in a particular person...
We learn rest from the one who is rest. When we heap the heavy mothering burdens of the day or week on our shoulders he tells us this: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest...
The burdens we put on ourselves as moms can be crushing, but Jesus tells us to come and learn from him (sit at his feet, like Mary).
What are we learning from him? To be gentle and lowly in heart. This is how we find rest in him. When we stop thinking everything is up to us and dependant on our success as moms. His yoke is easy and light for us, because he’s put everything on his shoulders. Our rest is found in putting our burdens on the one who was meant to carry them for us.
I left the meeting as early as I could excuse myself and came home, hobbling in our back door, running to the bathroom. I knew what to expect but nothing prepares you for the emotional and physical toll of blood loss, hormone loss, and the tiny baby loss in the moment.
Before I got married I thought, at times, women could be dramatic about their infertility or miscarriages. I thought: “Children are a blessing, but they’re not an idol. Why is your world falling apart because of this?” As I lay sobbing on our bed that day, I hiccupped through the words, “I just want it to stop.”
... The Psalmist David knew this slow drive too. He said the words, “How long, O Lord?” nine times in the book of Psalms. He was desperate for the Lord to relent, to show up, to release, and to end David’s suffering. We, like David, are not good in the middle of things. We don’t like it. We can anticipate the danger or suffering ahead, even know the right theology to regard it, but when the gushing pain begins, where is our hope then?
Our hope is in the permission to say, with David, “How long, O Lord?” And then to keep saying it, for as long as we are still waiting for it to relent.
... Our Father knows the searing loss of losing a child. Our Savior said these words on the cross, “My God. My God. Why have you forsaken me?” Our Spirit groans with us in our weakness with words too deep for us to even understand. Surely there is permission to sit, ache, mourn, and weep in this middle place?
I ask them to pick up their toys, yet they keep playing. I ask them to share, instead they scream at each other. I tell them it’s time to read the Bible or do our catechism questions, instead I’m met with cries of protest or disdain. My words, commands, and correctives often fall on deaf ears. And I feel defeated...
My kids disobey because they need new hearts, not because I am a bad parent. The great predicament of the Israelites is that no amount of effort on their part was going to make them obey. The same is true for my kids. God had to give his children new hearts, and he must do the same for mine.
This reality about their heart and disobedience shouldn’t anger me (as it so frequently does)—it should soften me towards them and make me long for God to grant them repentance and hearts that desires holiness. So often I am angry that they disobey me, rather than broken that their cold, dead hearts hinder their obedience yet again.
Disobedience is our natural bent. We see it with the Israelites. We see it with our kids. And we see it in ourselves. We need the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit to change our natural desires into what doesn’t come naturally to us—a desire to do what is right...
Those early years of mothering, they just didn’t fit me quite right.
Ya know, like how you feel when you try on one of those rompers and you just keep tugging and twisting it, hoping to get it to lay just right.
Something about a newborn felt odd, and unknown to me. My body seemed foreign, my routines were in the diaper genie. I wasn’t sure what had changed in me, or what was to remain the same.
That little babe on my chest, at times, didn’t fit quite right.
This is how motherhood felt for a couple years. I would look at my reflection in the metaphorical mirror and tug and twist this awkward new title of mom. The struggle, was very real.
In an attempt to silence the fear of failing as a mom, I overcompensated with tight and rigid schedules and extreme expectations. That control birthed other bad habits and misconceptions—like that mothering was something at which to win.
My children are young, so young that they mostly live in a Pleasantville-like bubble. But over the past year, that bubble has been pushed and poked a few times. There have been a few holes here and there, but I work quickly to patch them. And for the most part, the bubble remains.
But that is not the point of this. The point is just the opposite. The point is that the bubble will inevitably burst, no matter how I try to support it. The point is, I am realizing very quickly that I cannot protect my children from everything.