Being a mom often means being up in the middle of the night. If God ordained every minute you spend awake in the nighttime, are these moments gifts of 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.
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.