This transcript has been edited for clarity.
Emily: Welcome back to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I’m Emily, here with Laura. Today we are talking about how to deal when motherhood just feels too hard, when your responsibilities feel completely overwhelming, when you have no idea how to move forward, or when you just feel like you can’t do it. Hopefully that includes all of us. [laughter]
Laura: I hope so. If you do not identify with that statement, I want to meet you, please. [laughter]
Emily: But first, we’re really excited because this week we are doing a pledge drive to financially support the ministry of Risen Motherhood. We’re really excited to talk to you guys about it and excited to invite you to get involved.
Laura: Earlier this year some of you may have been along for the ride with us when we became entirely community supported. So we launched a platform called Patreon at that time and also received a lot of one-time donations through many of you. We are hoping to continue that now. We also formalized our mission statement earlier this year, and it is “to encourage, equip and challenge moms to apply the gospel to their everyday lives.” If you're new to our ministry or if you just need a quick refresher, this is what we’re all about. Our hope is to encourage, equip and challenge moms with the gospel. We do that through the podcast, which you're hopefully listening to right now, through articles on our site that are written by moms from all over the world and all different backgrounds; also the newsletter, social media content, and recommended resources. If you didn’t know, we pooled together tools that we enjoy using with our kids, that we use ourselves, that are beautiful and theologically sound so that you have them in one spot to equip you in order to invest in your family well. We also have our equipping resources —these are things like the Abide Method, which teaches you how to study the Bible, and our Kid’s Abide Cards, which teach you how to walk through a biblical passage with your children. It’s pretty cool to see what God has done through all of these arms and through all these platforms that we have at RM. And it’s been so fun because we have heard from so many women all over the world how God has worked in their lives through the ministry.
Emily: It’s really encouraging. There are nearly 1,000 written reviews on iTunes, which just blows my mind. You guys should go read them if you want to hear some awesome stories about how God is working in and through Risen Motherhood. One thing in particular that we felt like captured the heart of what we love seeing was the review from Mommy. In her review, she said, “I used to search for the best or right method, advice, books etc. But now I feel freed up from the pressure of doing things perfectly, thanks to the truth from RM that Jesus is our only hope, and he is our children’s only hope as well.” That is just one example of the many messages we've received about women who were maybe looking for hope and help and a lot of the resources that the world offers. Instead, they had their perspective shifted back onto God and back on the good news of the gospel and what he's done for them in Christ.
Laura: We’ve heard from missionary moms who are using it when they lack resources in their own communities, and some of them are actually so cool. Their friends that they’ve met want to learn English, and so they're giving them the podcast to help them learn English, and at the same time, they're giving them the gospel. I just loved that; I get the chills when I hear that. We’ve heard from so many women who are starting podcast clubs to discuss the show or Bible studies for the very first time in their neighborhoods with unbelievers in them. We also hear about moms who are sharing it with an unbelieving friend when they are struggling over snack time or screen time or a lack of sleep, and all the things that we sort of zero in at here at Risen Motherhood. They're sharing that with an unbelieving friend who has never heard the gospel. There are husbands who are listening in, and they also need to have deeper conversations with their wives because of the content from the show. Or women who are just picking up their Bibles for the first time in a really long time. Story after story we've been hearing and we want to point though that we recognize that this isn’t RM that is doing this work. This is not Risen Motherhood. This is God doing the work in the hearts of these people.
Emily: And we are so grateful to those of you who have already participated in that by sharing the show or telling your friends or putting it on social media. Because even though sometimes we like to kind of peg social media as the bad guy [laughter] or something that brings out a lot of sin in our lives, it’s also this amazing avenue that you're able to reach and influence others for Christ and reach all the nations right from your living room, or the checkout line, or wherever you are. So those of you who have already participated in that, it does make a difference. And it reaches all kinds of women. But we really need your help to keep going, and to keep producing this content, and to keep making it free.
Laura: Yes, that's one thing; our hope here at RM is that every mom would be able to access these resources, and that we wouldn’t have to embargo things or say these are only for certain people. But that we’ll be able to keep our show, our website, and everything that we offer for free. Each month we have fees that we pay for the podcast, website domain hosting, for email subscription services, programming, photography, and transcriptions. And we also pay our team members to develop the content for all of the different platforms that we have, and even doing things like manage the finances or manage the website. Therefore there are a lot of behind-the-scenes things going on that we are paying for, and that's where we just want to ask you for your help. I think, Em, we have some numbers here.
Emily: That’s actually so cool because we sat down one day and we tried to figure out what does it cost for us to produce one podcast, or one blog post, or one equipping resource? We had our sister-in-law, Becca, who does a lot of finances, come together with us. But to produce one episode of the podcast costs around $500. It’s helpful to know that includes everything: starting from content and editorial planning, through the actual show recording, and the post-production of that. Also, editing the show, putting it all together and making sure the sound quality is excellent for you guys. We also have original photography that goes along with each show, we have members on the team who write the discussion questions, program the website, and put everything out on social media, and compile those show notes for you guys. All of those things together means the show is touched by a lot of hands on our team. The transcripts! I can’t even get into all that, so there is a lot of work that goes into that one podcast episode that kind of makes that number. Also, every time we produce an article for the website, it costs up to $200, and that includes a lot of the same things, like editorial content planning, actual editing of each article, original photography, pushing that out on social media. There are a lot of the pieces of the puzzle there, and same with our equipping—that costs anywhere from $500 to $1,000 every time we create. And equipping and the resources; and it doesn’t even include things like, we work with an original artist, or we work with a translator like we did for our Kid’s Abide Cards. There's definitely a lot that goes into each of these pieces. We wanted to understand these numbers; maybe you guys may feel led to say, “With a one-time donation, I am going to cover one whole podcast episode for Risen Motherhood this year.” Or, “I am going to cover one or two blog articles.” Or, “I am going to cover an entire equipping device.” That's just an exciting way you can think about supporting us. Even if it’s a smaller amount, you know this buys half of a show, and that was one of the reasons why we wanted to kind of quantify this for you guys.
Laura: And if you go in to make a one-time donation for us, the levels will be there too. You can see and it’s really easy; we have a ton of information on this at risenmotherhood.com/give. Or you can read all about this, learn more and all this stuff, but we know that talking about money is hard, and we know that asking for money is very hard as well. But we’re doing it, and this is what it takes to keep Risen Motherhood going. We want to be able to continue creating content that you know and love from us, but we can’t do it without your help. Right now we have a pretty ambitious goal; we have a platform called Patreon that we’re part of where you can sign up to give monthly to Risen Motherhood. Right now we have about 300 community members and we’re hoping to reach a goal of 450 members, and also to increase our one-time donations. Therefore you're welcome to do either; we need people kind of doing both for this to work.
Just a quick tip with this too is that we've heard from a lot of women that they’ve actually been encouraging their moms, or grandma or grandpa, to give to Risen Motherhood. We've had a lot of really generous donations through grandparents who’ve just felt like, “Hey, this is so cool.” Or, “I see the change that’s happening in my daughter or happening in my grandchildren and I want to invest in the future.” Let’s just say if they're looking for a place to give, maybe give them a nudge, and we hope, of course, that you will join us well. But either way, we’re grateful that you guys are here.
Emily: Yes. Just something to keep in mind, we are in the process of pursuing non-profit status. That is going to take some time and we don’t have a deadline on that, so definitely go ahead and partner with us today; we need to keep running in the meantime. But that's one of the reasons why we wanted to continue having donations is because we’re headed that direction.
Laura: We’re in process. We are knee deep in paperwork [laughter]. Know that it’s actually a reality, but it takes a decent amount of time for this to happen.
Emily: You can go to risenmotherhood.com/give to find out all the details. If you're listening on Labor Day, it is September 19th, head over to Instagram at risenmotherhood because we’re going to have a Q&A on this tonight. Submit your question and we will try to answer anything you want to know about the pledge drive or being donor funded and all of that.
Laura: Thank you guys so much, we appreciate you sitting through that. Now let’s get to the show, “When motherhood feels too hard.” This happens to me all the time. Emily, does motherhood feel hard for you often?
Emily: Oh yes [laughter]. Pretty much every day I have a moment where I think like, “Motherhood is just too hard.” I don’t know what to do Laura, and I feel like I cannot put one more foot in front of the other, I cannot parent graciously for one more moment. And I think this also happens in connection with big seasons of motherhood. For instance, I think most of us can probably remember, maybe you brought your baby home from the hospital for the first time and you were driving home thinking, “I can’t believe they just left me with that baby.” Like, “I don’t know what I am doing. God, this feels just so overwhelming and so hard.” And even if you brought in a child through adoption or foster care, there was probably that immediate moment where that child was in your care and you just thought like, “I am not equipped to do this. I cannot do this. This is too hard.”
Laura: That's a good point. It often feels a little more acute when we’re going through those big transitions, even things like moving or changing our work schedule, or maybe getting a new childcare provider, starting school. I feel like that's going to be a big one for me—we’re recording this show a little bit —our kids are going to school very soon, so transitioning through that. Or into summer schedules; things like that. Or just even the daily grind of motherhood. I feel like often it will just be a moment of loudness in my home, and I am like, “I just want to be done. This is just hard.”
Emily: The thing that's interesting is the hard feeling can really permeate, like you were saying, in the small moments. And then there are also these very big, real hard things we face, and it can be really exhausting. I know that sometimes I am just exhausted by the feeling of how much there is. Of, “Okay, maybe I am getting kind of…”, or, “I am feeding really healthy foods to our kids and I am feeling really good about that. But I haven’t been reading out loud to them and now I am feeling like I am doing terrible in this other area.” And at any given time there’s 25 of those things, or maybe hundreds of things we’re responsible for, and the hardness is just like, “I cannot keep up with everything I am supposed to be doing at any given time. I am majorly failing in multiple areas.” [laughter]
Laura: Oh, sad.
Emily: But it’s true; it’s not just reality.
Laura: I know, I feel that way too, but when I hear someone else say it, I have, of course, more clarity.
Emily: Which is why we need help.
Laura: Yes. We have kind of these three things as we’re talking through the show; kind of common temptations when, as a mom, you're faced with these feelings of, “It’s just a little bit too hard for me right now.” The first one is we just want to give up. Often I think we can just stop wanting to be intentional about things, want to stop trying, stop being thoughtful, like Emily was talking about, with the food. And we’re kind of like, “Well, I am just going to give up on everything. If I can’t do it, I am not going to do it at all.” That's like the first thing that we often do.
Emily: Another temptation is just to give in—just that succumbing to temptation to sin in a lot of different areas. It’s that feeling of, “Okay fine, I am done fighting. I am just going to give in and do what feels most natural to me”, which is often to sin. And we’ll talk more about what that might look like.
Laura: And then the last one would be to give over. This is sort of the idea that you might give yourself over to something else; something with maybe more instant gratification, something with a little more results, or something that just feels more natural maybe to you or easier. Sometimes this can be a hobby, time with friends, or work. Just anything that's outside of motherhood where you're saying, “I am going to go do that purely for the reason that I want to check out because it’s just too hard.” Not because those are bad things.
Emily: Although we know there’s a lot of overlap in these things, and we can probably be doing all three of them at the same time, we just wanted to give you guys some quick gospel hope for each of these responses when motherhood feels too hard.
First, a caveat, that sometimes motherhood feels too hard because you're battling something deeper, like postpartum depression or an anxiety disorder. Or there are some changes in your hormones that are making it really difficult to cope through these things. This is something that's hard beyond the normal pressures of motherhood, and these aren’t attitudes or moods that you can just pray your way out of or give yourself a negative truth and redirect. This is something you may need doctors or counselors to help you work through. Definitely if you feel like “I’m trying these things but I’m unable to make progress,” reach out to someone because we definitely know that there are factors that go into this.
Laura: Definitely. We want to give you guys some gospel hope for these three things—the give up, give in or give yourself over. And as Emily mentioned, there's a lot of overlap, so you can apply these in different ways. But thinking specifically about giving up, we can look to Christ for that example. He was the ultimate show of commitment through the end. He didn’t give up when God called him to the cross. He asked God to take the cup of suffering from him, but ultimately he did God’s will, and he walked to Calvary, all the way, for us, never giving up. It was hard, and it included suffering, but he still went the way that was set before him.
Emily: Yes, and as disciples of Christ, it’s going to be hard for us. But through the Holy Spirit, we can have his power and strength in our weakness. Another thing, when we just want to give in, is to remember Jesus when he was tempted in the desert. Satan came to him when he was at a really weak point physically, and he was hungry and probably tired, and he showed him all these things he could give in to. Like, “Oh, you can have power and control and you can stop your suffering right now.” But Jesus used God’s word to stand firm and to resist the devil. He did this perfectly and he understands what it feels like to be tempted, to just give in to whatever sin it is that we want to do. But we can, again, find his strength in our weakness. And even if we do sin, we can repent and turn back to him every time.
Laura: And for the last one, giving yourself over, we see this happening in the New Testament in the early church. People were often abandoning sound doctrine and the gospel in light of other things that were “gospel plus something else.” They were following the teachings of the world, and just like them, we can be like that, where we are thinking we need something more than just the gospel. We need something more than where God has put us and where he has placed us. It can be very easy and tempting to want to take shortcuts or, as we were sharing, just having that instant gratification for things, or just feeling like, “Oh, I can see some tangible results of my efforts.” But there's no shortcut to God or to faithfulness and to living a life just sold out for the gospel. That is all that you need, it’s sufficient, and it’s everything; to add to that isn’t necessary. God provides you with everything you need to be a good mother. When you have that good perspective of what you have in Christ, and what you have aside through eternity, and what he’s called you to today, you can stay focused on those things and not be looking for other ways to find fulfillment outside of where God’s placed you.
Emily: We just wanted to run through these and give some examples of how we've seen this play out in our own lives. Obviously these are just our personal experiences [laughs] so take them with a grain of salt, and know that we all have different experiences. But one time I wanted to give up—I think I shared this on the show before—when we had three kids under 18 months, there was this really snowy day and I was pumping for my twins and my older son was running around. I was so overwhelmed, I literally just went into my bedroom and hit my knees and was just crying out to God, like, “God, I cannot do this, this is too hard. I give up.” And he really just showed up with kindness and strength for that day, and I remember specifically, everybody napped at the same time that day, for the first time since they were born. And I had two hours to clean the house and sit down quietly by myself. God does not always show up in that way.
Laura: He was merciful to you.
Emily: I just remembering like, “God sees me and loves me, and he's going to help me persevere.”
Laura: On the flipside of that, as Emily said, it doesn’t always happen that way, I had a long season. I shared before about my daughter having colic, and I don’t know if I've ever actually admitted this part on the show. But we were living temporarily in an apartment for about two months after we’d just moved to the Chicago area, and I was pretty sad. I was two months postpartum, living in a home that I didn’t know and in a town with no friends, no church home, and no family. I locked myself in the bathroom almost every day for probably the full two months and I would cry in the bathtub. I was sort of the stereotype [laughs] that I think sometimes we can get. But it was true; it was the only place where I could find relief. It was a very hard season. It was a season that I felt like God wasn’t taking that suffering away; he wasn’t taking the difficulties of raising two kids and what felt somewhat like isolation. It was a long season, but I look back at it and I know that God was faithful in it. I know that he provided small mercies at the time. I may not even have felt that grateful for them, to be honest, in my sadness. But I look back and he grew me during that season so much. And I am really grateful for it, for many reasons. And I've shared it on different shows so I don’t need to go into here. For those of you who are going through a longer season, just know that the big and the small things, like Emily and I were saying, sometimes there's a really big, tangible act of grace and mercy that you see. And other times it is a time for sanctification and growth and just the daily grind of going through that.
Emily: Some examples of whenever we want to give in. For me this is one of the things I feel on a daily basis, and just having to go before God every day, moment by moment. It’s really frustrating to me actually. [laughter] It feels like the thorn inside of, “Why can’t I just get over this feeling of having to ask myself, ‘Why am I parenting this way? Do I just want to just give in to my kids? Do I just want to check out? Have I called on the Lord for perseverance, and for help and for truth in the situation, or am I just relying on myself and my own strength?’” That’s more of a preaching the gospel to myself thing when the everyday moments feels hard.
Laura: I would have to say ditto on that. I tend to be a pendulum of giving in to my kids’ whims and desires, which is wrong too. Just like saying, “You can have anything you want and it doesn’t matter.” And then also then snapping and being angry because they're having terrible behavior, and really I created that. I fostered that kind of environment and I have to step back and ask, just like Emily, preaching the gospel myself, “Hey, what's really in my heart right now? Is it my emotions or my feelings, or my period? I don’t know. Or is it Christ?” Feelings are real, but you have to think of them as gauges, and not necessarily your guide for exactly what to do. I've had someone very wise tell me that saying, “Your feelings can tell you where your hope is currently being found, but not where it should be found.” Which I think is a pretty key difference.
Emily: Yes, it’s kind of like that root and fruit example. I was reading that in Gospel Fluency recently, and just asking, “When I see the fruit of my behavior is giving into sin, each time saying, ‘Where is that coming from? What are the roots of that behavior and that fruit in my life?’” Oh that’s good; guys should read that book. [laughter] Alright, so gospel hope when you want to give over. I think—wow, I just sound like a broken record, like really, my answer just sounds like my last answer. [laughter] For me, I just continually struggle with wanting to go over to the path of least resistance—what's going to make everybody else in the house feel good? And I am all about feeling good [laughter], I guess. Therefore, watch the show, eat the food, hanker down, and let’s just keep to ourselves in our homes so we don’t have to deal with the hardness of relationships or the hardness of routine changes. Or we don’t have to sacrifice; we don’t have to let anyone in. I am just tempted to give over to this desire for a life of ease and comfort, and not of sacrifice and dying to myself and asking God, “What have you called me to do in this moment, and how are you calling me to live for you in this, even if it is hard?” And I have to choose that the difficult way.
Laura: This is where you see how different Emily and I are, because I am like, "Difficulty, let me bulldoze through it.” [laughter] This is why we’re very good for each other, but I am definitely the type of person that likes immediate fruit for things. And I tend to turn to options that offer very quick satisfaction, or I just can feel really good at. That might mean I am doing a lot of things, and that I am not doing it because I want to honor God in it or because I want to serve him, but because I want to feel valuable. That is where the sin trouble comes in; I may say, “I am going to have a party. I am going to make a fancy meal that’s totally homemade. I am going to maybe even buy a new shirt and just feel pretty.” These are the things that I have to continually remind myself that like, “I am invested here as a mom for the long game, and that’s the kind of game that God plays. He is not shortsighted like me, but he's working even in the things that I don’t see.” It’s probably where he’s working the most, like when my daughter had colic, and I was sitting in the bathroom tub. When we want to give over to things we just have to remember that, like we were talking about, there is no shortcut to this. There's nothing else that is worthy of our worship, outside of God, and where he’s placed us.
Emily: Practically, what does this look like? We've touched on it a little bit, but stopping and praying when we’re in those moments when we want to just give up, give in, or give over, and just asking God, crying out to him, praying his word back to him. And then just being in his word consistently; obviously that’s where our minds are renewed and transformed. That’s where we can be guided by the truth and not by our feelings or by our sense of being overwhelmed, living in community with other believers, and having others be able to talk you through those things. This is something you never move beyond; I still have to go to older women or peers and be like, “I am sorry I have to ask this dumb question, but I cannot work through this. Can you speak the gospel to me? Can you help me figure out what's going on in my heart?” And then it’s usually so helpful.
Laura: Or sometimes you don’t really realize you need the gospel. And then your really good friends come out and they give you the gospel, and you're like, “Oh yes! [laughter] I needed that because I was in lala land.”
Emily: Preach the gospel to yourself and your friends. Not being afraid to give your friend Jesus—that’s what we need. Yes, we need that, “I am here with you too” commiseration to some level just so we can be empathetic. But then also pointing them to Christ and saying, “This is where your sufficiency and your hope and your fulfillment, and everything you need for a life in godliness is found.”
Laura: Let’s talk about dead weight friends. You just think about that like, “I don’t want to keep you where you're at as a friend.” Or, “I don’t want my friends to leave me just where I’m at. I want them to push me forward. I want them to push me towards the cross.” That’s a good thing though Emily, because often, like whenever motherhood is hard, I am not reaching out for help or assistance.
Emily: That is true!
Laura: I am just kind of in-grown into my own stuff.
Emily: I think we've stumbled upon something really important here. [laughter]
Laura: I like it!
Emily: Because that's something I don’t communicate very often. Because whenever I am in those moments I am really in my head and I want to give in or give up or whatever, I have not been living in good community with people who are speaking the gospel to me and pointing me to Christ. And I've not been living authentically. Not that I am hiding anything, but I just haven’t been in that good community, and I think that’s a good thing to keep in mind.
Laura: Having those friends that have an x-ray on you is so key. Anyway, we've got another show idea happening I think. But anyway, be a good friend; that’s the end of that little story. We’ll have more on this on our show notes. You can check those out, and head over to risenmotherhood.com for all the info, risenmotherhood.com/give is where you’ll find the pledge drive. If you'd like to contribute, we would greatly appreciate that, and of course find us on social media; Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, @risenmotherhood. Thank you guys so much for joining us today.
This episode of Risen Motherhood is funded by our generous donors. If you like this podcast, please consider joining them at risenmotherhood.com/give.