Literally. As in I’m physically, emotionally, and 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, but oooohhhh, how it hurts.
I’m still not sleeping through the night because the “baby” (who is 18 months by the way), is still not sleeping through the night. I wake up tired and go to sleep tired, and in the foggy hours in between, struggle to function like a normal adult. My “quiet time” with the Lord in the morning consists of a 15-minute (sometimes less) devotional reading, a brief passage of scripture, and short, sentence prayers that always, always include my signature request of strength for the day.
I’m not the polished, level headed, organized mom I aspire to be. Not even close. 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 and all the details that must be managed for the day, yes, in my weakness, God is meeting me. He’s showing himself strong and keeping his promises.
God’s Promises: Yes and Amen
God always keeps his promises, and scripture is chock full of them. I’ve memorized them since childhood—promises for everything from provision to peace to prosperity—treasuring them like lifelines I was saving for a truly desperate crisis. My subconscious dialogue went something like this:
“I’m sure I’ll reeeeaallly need God’s wisdom someday, so I’ll handle this situation on my own, and save that for a real crisis.”
Every now and then, when life got difficult, I’d seek out one of God’s promises—for peace or for strength, perhaps—and cling to it for reassurance, but when the trial passed, it went back into the arsenal, never to be seen again, and I went back to being self-sufficient.
There was a huge disconnect between my orthodoxy and my orthopraxy, which is just a fancy way of saying that my beliefs didn’t line up with my behavior. I had long since confessed and repented of my sin, and accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior. But although I “believed” everything God said he wanted to offer me in his word—abundant life in this world and the next—I wasn’t truly convinced that I needed his help, minute by minute, hour by hour. I pretty much had a handle on life most days.
It’s only now, as I’m knee-deep in the trenches of motherhood that I understand: I was too strong to need help from the all-knowing, all-wise, sovereign ruler of the universe.
God wanted me to rely on him in my weakness, and I wanted to show him (and the rest of the world) my strength. Oh, the irony.
In 1 Corinthians 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 came to expose his weakness and force 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” (1 Corinthians 1:20).
What if God wants to use motherhood in your life to force your reliance on him? What if he is crushing and pressing you, so that you abandon your own strength and turn to Christ to claim the “yes” of his promises? It’s only when we are truly reliant on Christ for both our salvation and sanctification that we can say “amen” to whatever challenges he allows in our lives.
The Myth of Strength Apart from Christ
I am saddened when I consider that I have lived so much of my life depending on my own strength. Maybe you have too? In our Westernized, self-empowering capitalistic culture, we are told repeatedly that we have the power to control our own destiny. If we plan well, work hard, and exercise discipline, we can achieve success in academia, in our careers, and even in ministry. Sadly, I bought into the lie. I’ve had the unfortunate “luxury” of needing the Lord far too little and perceiving myself far too capable.
Enter motherhood, a great leveling field. No matter how rich you are, or how smart, or how capable, or how determined, motherhood is plain hard. Scary. Complicated. Draining. Too much.
Suddenly, I was failing and falling flat on my face more times than I could count. How was this possible? All of my perceived strength got me nowhere, except feeling guilty and disappointed in myself.
I was supposed to be able to do this, right? What was wrong with me?
I was trying to do it alone. Outside of God’s strength. Outside of biblical community. Outside of his design.
How tragic. The idea of any strength apart from Christ is a manufactured fairy tale that leads us farther and farther away from the grace we desperately need. In John 15:5, Jesus explains to his disciples: “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”
Motherhood is hard, and exhausting, there is no question. But motherhood is also an opportunity to come to the end of ourselves every day, to experience our weakness afresh every morning, and to run into the arms of a Savior who delights to work through the weak and needy.
In other words, us. You and me. Tired and worn out moms. Tired and worn out people.
But he delights in using the humble—those who know, accept, and even embrace their weakness and their need for his strength. The only way to experience the life-changing joy and freedom of knowing Christ is to give up. Quit telling yourself that you’re enough.
You’re not, because you weren’t created to be. I know I’m not. The long days, sleepless nights, and my kids’ constant neediness wear me all the way down. And yet God’s promises to me are more real than they have ever been. I’m completely dependent on his power and grace to make it through each and every day.
Slowly but surely I’m learning, like the Apostle Paul, to rejoice in the inadequacies that bind me to Jesus and release me to abide in him. I’m finding freedom—not guilt—in the fact that I bring absolutely nothing to the banquet table, and yet his banner over me is love. I’m learning to find joy in seeing Christ work through my weakness, and 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 and 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.
When Christ died on the cross, satisfying God’s holy wrath and offering us a way back to himself, he redeemed every aspect of our lives—sleepless nights included. He promises, and he provides. This reality is why I can lay my tired head down to sleep tonight, knowing full-well I won’t sleep all the way through, but understanding that motherhood, with all its joy and fatigue, is working for me a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory than I could ever imagine.
There is no greater assurance.
Christina Kposowa is a writer, occasional speaker and above all else, a lover of Jesus. She and her husband Musa have the joy of raising two active boys, Lincoln and Ellis, who are undoubtedly her life’s greatest work. They live in Laurel, Maryland and attend McLean Bible Church’s Montgomery County Campus. For more of her adventures in marriage and motherhood, visit her online at This Joyous Home.