God works all things together for good for those who love him. But sometimes, our circumstances don’t feel good, especially in seasons of suffering. How can we trust that his work in our life is good? We look to Jesus.
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.
Something was wrong.
I couldn't yet pinpoint the problem, but I could feel the effects of it in my soul and see it in the way I treated my family. Impatience with my daughter for not immediately understanding her new math concept. Anger against my boys for having constant, messy needs. Frustration towards my husband over things which he had no control. Discouragement and despair over my daily goals and relationships. Why was I so low? I dug around in my mind a bit and came up with a few specific things over which I was especially disappointed.