The following is a transcript of the audio. Transcript has been edited for clarity.
Laura: Welcome to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I am Laura Wifler and I’m here with my sister-in-law, Emily Jensen. Today we are talking about how often it is, as a mom we feel alone. Different from lonely because when Emily and I were talking, we had to differentiate this a little bit. You know that feeling you get whenever you’re like, “I am the only one who feeds my kids fruit snacks 10 minutes before dinner,” or, “I am the only one who has ever experienced a child waking up in the middle of the night.” We’re dramatic usually when we think we’re the only ones. I don’t know Em, what do you think about whenever you feel like you’re alone?
Emily: Usually, it is that isolated feeling where I think my family is unique; no one can understand what our family is going through. I sometimes worry too with my son, like I’m the only one who does certain things wrong as a mom. Am I the only one who flips down the TV screen in the car when people are just screaming and I’m like, “I can’t take it anymore,” and I’ve got 10 more minutes and like-
Laura: It’s like a 10-minute drive. [laughter]
Emily: “I don’t care. Bring on the DVD.” Or sometimes, you can’t get your kids to eat dinner and we don’t feed them vegetables as often as we should. Or being crabby towards my child because I’m on my phone and I’m checking Instagram and they’re pulling on my leg and I’m being impatient. I feel like a lot of it is in my own weaknesses as a mom. I can feel like I’m the only one who does these bad things because I don’t see my friends doing it. When you’re around other people, they’re on their best. I’m on my best-mom too!
Laura: Yes, you’re not doing it either [laughter]. We can also as moms be like, “Oh, I don’t think anyone understands how I feel as I’m going through this.” I know that having a husband that works a lot, when other moms try to relate, I’m like, “You don’t get it. You don’t even understand,” because it’s almost like we want to feel alone in that, thinking, “I experience it so much more than any other mom ever has.”
Emily: Or you feel like your hard is the hardest hard. [laughs] I thought that a lot when I had newborn twins. I was like, “No one can relate to how hard this is,” and I even feel that sometimes now. We have twin toddlers and it’s like, “Well, not really.” - everyone who’s had a toddler can understand to some degree but it can feel like, “We have all boys. No one can understand how loud our house is or why it’s so loud, or the dirt, and the energy that’s going on.” Like you were saying, “No one can relate to how stressed that makes me feel at the end of the day, when I’ve had little boys bouncing off walls.”
I think whatever our struggle is as a mom, we can tend to isolate that and be like, “No one understands this struggle that I have.”
Laura: Which is so ironic to me. I do this too, I will be the first to say it! When my daughter had colic, it was like anyone else who said they had a crying baby, I’m like, “You don’t get it.”
Laura: It’s so funny to me because it’s like one quick Google search or taking 10 minutes to talk to a case study of a handful of people, it’s like, “Yup, you are not alone. You are not the first person in the universe to experience a child with colic. You are not superior, you are not special, you are not unique in any way,” Deal with it; it’s happened before. It’s logic but we tell ourselves, “No one gets it,” and it’s funny to me. If you were to really listen to our inner monologue, I think it would be pretty illogical. We’d be like lunatics, [laughter] we’d sound crazy.
Emily: I know and a lot of it, for me, is having a pity party and not wanting to be content with what the Lord has put on my plate and in my life for this season. I’m not believing that that’s God’s best for me. I’m just believing, “This is hard and I don’t want it to be hard and so woe is me. Hard life; nobody gets it. I have it the worst,” and it’s very self-centered. It’s not thinking about things that are right and true and good. It’s totally self-worship and it’s also worshiping whatever: “I want things to be comfortable or I want to control things and it’s not going my way,” Adult temper tantrums. [laughter]
Laura: Pity parties are funny. It’s our favorite party to attend but it’s the worst on.
Emily: [laughter] The worst party you’ll ever attend.
Laura: It’s the worst party ever but you’re like, “I’m going there today. I can’t wait to go!” Oh, man.
Also, we’re often finding our identity in our struggle instead of finding our identity in Christ. That is something I know that I do. I just become like, “Oh, I’m the colic mom,” or, “I’m the mom that had to move five days after I had baby.” It starts to define us. Whatever our struggles or our issues are, they become like, “I am that mom,”
Emily: You live that out.
Laura: You begin to completely play it out.
Emily: We’re just trying to go through: What are the reasons why we feel alone? Laura has touched on identity and I think the other one we wanted to talk about was being isolated as women. This may vary based on how much you work outside of the home or don’t. But even if you work outside of the home, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re having meaningful interactions with other women or people who love Jesus. I think I’ve also noticed when I start to get really, “Oh, I’m so alone,” I realize I haven’t had conversations with people.
Laura: You are literally alone.
Emily: Who have I talked to other than my own voice, and a toddler in the last however many days, and sometimes you’re just talking to your husband. That doesn’t always count for me because we’re having the same problems-
Laura: It does not count.
Emily: [laughter] He is just like, “Well, you’re alone with me.”
Laura: I think that something that we tend to do is get more introverted and we have these issues. You not only begin to isolate yourself in your thoughts, but sometimes it happens physically as well, and so getting out of the house - like I was saying, if you start to talk to more moms, it can easily become something where you’re like, “Oh, you struggle with that too and you get that?”
Emily: We want to be connecting over truth, rather than just sharing our experiences and going, “Oh, yes, me too! You too?”
Laura: And where the gospel plays into all of this, we go back to the fall and redemption, as we always do with the gospel. Adam and Eve were separated from God in their sin. They went and hid from God, ran away and were isolated from each other too. They were causing blame on one another, pointing the finger and wanting to say, “This isn’t my problem,” or, “It’s not my fault.” That element of the fall causes us to also feel alone. We’re going to have these feelings that we desire deeper relationships that we don’t get, or we start to fall into depression or despair or even self-righteousness, which causes us to have a rift between one another as humans.
Our human relationships are fallen because of the fall.
The great part about this, of course, is always going back to the redemption story and that nothing can separate us from Christ now; that because of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, we are never alone. We have the great High Priest who can sympathize with our weaknesses. He understands what we’re going through. Even if you are literally the only person on the planet that has experienced something, Jesus can identify with you. There’s no feeling, no emotion, no situation that He doesn’t get and hasn’t experienced.
Emily: The picture that comes to mind for me a lot is when one of my children will do something disobedient. Sometimes I’ll move him, to time out and it is a separation. I physically separate him from the rest of the family because sin separates us from other people, and it causes us to be alone. Like, “You have to sit here alone now and think about this sin and what happened in your heart,” and then come back later and talk with him and reconcile and say, “Okay, you sinned in this way. We want to ask God for forgiveness but then I want to restore our relationship and bring us back into full fellowship, so that you can rejoin our family. No one is bitter and no one is frustrated with you,” I always think of that picture, like that’s what happens with our sin.
Laura: It’s perfect.
Emily: When we do that, and we are in sin or this is the result of sin, we are isolated in our own but God has made a way, like Laura said. I think the other great thing is He has brought us into a kingdom and into a family of other believers. Not only are we not alone because Christ understands but we’re not alone in this Christian walk. We have fellowship with others and we can have fellowship with others. If you’re feeling alone, I think there is an element of looking at your own life and saying, “Am I not engaging in the fellowship and the body of Christ that God has given for me to be a part of?”
Laura: A practical way of getting out of those feelings of being alone is going to your local church and getting involved with the body of Christ and saying, “I want to serve,” or, “I want to be mentored,” or, “I want to be involved in this Bible study.” There are so many opportunities in the local church to be involved in. That’s not only to go there and be physically present - but also the thing that is so hard for us as women - is to truly be vulnerable with other women.
I know that takes time. Female relationships take time to build on, but I think that’s key: no man is an island. None of us can do this on our own. We all wear these masks and it’s so important to be willing to be authentic with what you’re struggling with, and I have seen time and time and again when I tend to be a super honest person like, “This is what I’m going through, take it or leave it,” I just lay it on the table and let them pick it up - I think every time I’ve done that, I can’t tell you the amount of times in the room someone has been like, “Me too,” or, “I thought I was the only one.”
I’m not making that up; that is true. It’s amazing how one person who’s willing to be vulnerable can find there are so many other people in the room that can often relate.
Emily: The thing here is wanting to check our heart attitude and wanting to relate to other people. Because when you’re feeling alone, sometimes what you want is for other people to join your pity party and pat you on the back and be like, “Me too,” and you’re like, “Good. Come to my party.” [laughter]
Instead of saying, the greater goal is for them to remind you of truth, for you to be reminded of truth, for you to be worshiping God, and to be content and joyful about the plan that He has for your life, or whatever you are going through, and to understand how Christ is with you in that. When we are being authentic, I think the goal isn’t so that we could say, “Me too.” Although that is a really important thing - but it’s so that someone can say, “Me too, now what? Now let’s look to Christ.” That’s something that is unique to a believer; a follower of Christ can give you that. Your friend on the street can have some camaraderie with you but is that really going to help you feel better? It might, it might not.
Another practical thing is getting in a support group. Facebook has a billion groups now, of people that are going through different things. I know this year I started attending a breastfeeding support group in my community and that’s helped me so much in moments. It’s a practical thing of not feeling alone.
Laura: It doesn’t necessarily have to be a Christian group. Although that is going to give you the most edifying and uplifting encouragement with your struggles, but there are so many benefits.
We’ll wrap this up. Find us on our website RisenMotherhood.com. From there, of course, you can find the links to Facebook, to Twitter and also to our iTunes page. Please, if you haven’t yet, subscribe and leave a review over on iTunes. It is the best way for us to get the word out about the show.
Also, guys, get involved in some mom groups. I think that’s a charge from this episode. Get involved in your local church and Bible study and a women’s group and a mom’s group, whatever - all of those things. Take some action from this, talk to other moms, be real. We hope that these shows not only encourage you in the moment, but that they spur you on to do action or to have further conversation; to digest this.
Laura: All right, thanks everyone for tuning in.