The following is a transcript of the audio. Transcript has been edited for clarity.
Laura: Welcome to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I, of course, have my lovely sister-in-law, Emily Jensen here with me. Today, we’ve got a few housekeeping things. Em, what do we have?
Emily: We have another Free Printable which is really exciting. Hopefully you guys got our last one but this one is, again by Give it Pretty and it’s a quote that applies to motherhood that Laura and I both liked for a long time, by Elisabeth Elliot. I’m going to read it to you because it’s a mouthful. [laughter] “This job has been given to me to do. Therefore, it is a gift. Therefore, it is a privilege. Therefore, it is an offering I may make to God. Therefore, it is to be done gladly, if it is to be done for Him. Here, not somewhere else, I may learn God’s way. In this job not in some other, God looks for faithfulness.” It is really pretty and we hope that you guys download it.
Laura: Go download it and be encouraged and remember what your job is for. We love those words by Elisabeth Elliot. We hope that you are blessed by them as well.
Emily: Speaking of, we are excited to be talking about joy today. Joy is something in motherhood that we are all looking for and that we all want and yet it feels so elusive. It’s like trying to get a hold of a two-year-old or an 18-month old. They are staring and looking at you, and you are creeping, and you are like, “I’m getting close,” and you reach out, and then they bolt. You’re like, “Why?” Trying to have joy in motherhood can feel like that sometimes.
Laura: We can feel guilty about feeling we don’t have that joy, and a lot of times, for a lot of women it’s like, “Becoming motherhood is what I want and I’ll finally be so happy once I become a mom.” Then the reality of it all settles in - of the spilled milk, and the poop, and the sleepless nights and all those things. You are like, “This was not as fun as it looked like from the outside.”
Emily: [laughs] Then we have a lot of pressure. Like Laura said, not only do we look forward to motherhood but we feel all this pressure to be doing everything right, and then it becomes one more thing we are failing at. At least, I feel that way when I’m not having joy. It’s like I already wasn’t meeting the 10 criteria for super-mom and I’m not smiling through it all at the same time, so let’s just heap that guilt on too. [laughter]
Laura: What we want to get at today, is looking at how a mom can have joy in motherhood and how that reflects your attitude day-to-day. We are going to be differentiating two different types of joy. One is eternal joy and the other is momentary joy. We want to take a second to dissect those two and talk about the difference and how ultimately, you as a mom, can have that eternal joy on a daily basis.
Emily: Momentary joy, which is probably something we are all familiar with, is like Laura said - the circumstantial joy. It’s something that everyone can experience and it’s a good thing. It’s something that you can find in the laughter of your children, or decorating your house, or eating a great piece of chocolate cake, [laughter] or spending time with people you love, doing your hobbies. There’s a million things that can give us that momentary joy but it’s ultimately circumstantial. It’s based on a thing that you experience, or something people around you are doing, or how you are benefiting, and it’s something also that doesn’t last for very long. Sometimes, you can have a joyful experience that maybe you are happy for days on end but usually, the circumstances eventually change. The cake is gone and then the joy goes with it. I don’t know what else you’ve experienced with momentary joy, Laura.
Laura: It’s very short-lived. It’s what we were talking about earlier; that elusive section of joy of, yes, I’m eating this awesome ice cream and then it melts, and spills on my shirt and it’s not so awesome anymore, or whatever.
Eternal joy on the other hand. That is a joy that is so much deeper. When we really grasp what it is, it’s so much longer lasting. It’s taking joy in God and His promises, His word, His love; everything that He has done for us. I like to think of it as keeping one eye on the cross and one eye on redemption. We are looking back and looking forward at His promises. When we have this deeper joy of this expectation, of what God will do for us and how He will redeem us and one day our reward will be in the future, and it will be so much better than these small little rewards like M&M’S, and [laughter] Crunch Bars, and things like that that we love, that joy sustains us so much further. It looks very different. When a mom is trusting deeply in her Savior and being grateful in what God has done for her, that’s when we are able to respond to our family so differently than if we are basing our stuff on circumstantial joy. That’s what we want to talk through today, how do we have that eternal joy and what does it look like when we have it?
Emily: Laura and I have both experienced trying to hope in momentary joy and having to figure out what that eternal joy looks like in our own personal situations. As we were prepping for this show, we were both laughing about some experiences we’ve had personally, of feeling like motherhood, as Laura said, wasn’t that fun and going, “How could I do all of the joyful things that scripture talks about when I have children that are crying a lot?”
For me, having so many young children, there are a lot of long, intense days where there are sometimes a lot of tears, and a lot of tantrums, and a lot of correction, and training, and discipline and a lot of fights. It can feel like, if I am hoping in a day going smoothly, or in my children’s behavior, or being able to do fun things, there’s just no…
Laura: There is no hope.
Emily: [laughs] I’m in trouble. I’ve had a lot of people in the last six months, after accessing Risen Motherhood or blog stuff, ask me, “How are you having joy in the midst of it all?” and I was like, “That’s a good question. I should figure out the answer to that,” but it’s been a good journey for me to figure that out. I probably have more joy than I thought but in new ways, which Laura and I will get into.
What about you Laura? Have you had those experiences of trying to find joy?
Laura: Yes. I often look back, as we were chatting through times when we couldn’t really trust in our circumstantial joy. A big season for me, that I’ve talked about before, was about a year ago last spring, when I felt my life was completely falling apart. My daughter had colic and there were other factors at play to be sure, but that was a season where I did not enjoy my daughter and I questioned when am I going to find joy in her? I wanted that deep joy in having a newborn, and being a second-time mom. It was a hard season for me that I realized really quick that if I’m going to be dependent on my children for my joy, or my circumstances in my home, or in my friends, it wasn’t going to happen.
That was where I was brought very low and realized I’ve got to figure out a different source of happiness or I’m destined for depression. That’s where God came in, in a big way and taught me what eternal joy looks like. I realized how in the midst of suffering, in the midst of hard things happening, you can have a deeper joy that is running beneath the surface; running your engine. Honestly, I look back on some of those days and how busy it was, and all the things that were happening and zero sleep and I am like, “God totally sustained me and He gave me a supernatural power to be able to respond to my children and love. Was I perfect? Absolutely not. [laughter] I have a lot of days that I wish I could erase from my memory, that I was not behaving in the right way. But when we are trusting in that everlasting joy of the promises of God, and the things that He’s done before us, that is a way that can supersede or overcome all of our natural attitudes and desires to respond impatiently or to act selfishly, and things like that.
Emily: What you mentioned is awesome. When you were going through that, I remember not even necessarily knowing that you were in such a hard place, which I think is evidence. [laughter] That’s a picture of joy because you and I are pretty close. You were hoping in the Lord to some extent and that’s a great witness of, “Hey, there’s something going on there. That person is being sustained even though they are in a hard place.”
As I was also thinking through this, I was picturing a mom and we are in the trenches of a battlefield just covered in dirt, and markers, and [laughter] unidentified bodily fluids, and everything else. Our hair is not washed and we are trying to win at all costs. The difference is we have a war that is already won. What if somebody told you in the middle of the battle, “This already turns out in your favor! This already turns out well!” How does that change how you are fighting? How does that allow you to fight from a place of rest and from a place of ultimately, “Yes, I’m going to keep going,” but almost motivates you because you are like, “Okay, this is going to be won so I can keep going.”
I heard this interesting story yesterday on another podcast, a Ted Talk podcast about Florence Chadwick. She was a channel swimmer. She was going to swim a channel from an island off of California to California. She swims for 15 hours, and it’s foggy, and she’s like, “I can’t do it anymore.” She gets out of the boat and shortly after she gets out of the boat, the fog clears and the shore was a mile off. She about dies because like, “Okay, if I just could have kept going.” She said, “I think if I could have seen the shore, I would have kept going.” She did it again, she said, with the shoreline in mind and she made it.
That is such a good picture of this joy of looking with our reward in mind, with eternity in mind, to keep swimming. We can keep going. I’m not going to quote Nemo but- [laughter]
Laura: Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming! [laughter]
Emily: That’s a mom illustration right there. Why did that stupid line pop into my head?[laughter]
Laura: Hey moms. Every time you have Finding Dory or Finding Nemo playing on your TV, which is probably a lot, think about swimming for Christ. [laughter] I like it Em.
Now to take us from Finding Nemo to a Puritan pastor because I love Richard Baxter. I don’t know if any of you guys know about that guy, but he’s from the 1600s so we are going old school, but he has this quote. It’s not specifically about joy but basically he says, “If everlasting joys were more in your thoughts, then your spiritual joys would abound more in your hearts.” I love that quote. It’s a much larger quote, and all of it is so good. I love that because what often keeps us joyless is our expectations. That’s either not expecting what God has promised for us in the future or we are expecting what He didn’t promise.
I love what Emily says about keeping that eternity in mind, of swimming towards that future. That has been a huge thing for me as I have transitioned. A lot of our joylessness is a fact of unbelief and not trusting in those promises that God is going to give us in the future, and not even fully comprehending or understanding it. I know to a level we can’t understand that future reward that we are going to get. God promises eternal rewards with Him in heaven. That He will come back and all will be restored; all will be redeemed. If we truly believe that, moms, if we truly did, we would have so much joy and hope and we would live fearlessly.
I feel that’s something that God’s been working on me; eradicating worry and fear, and I love thinking about, if I can place my hope there not in how I have to mop the floor again, and vacuum upstairs, and clean up puke, and do all these errands, and do laundry, again. If I put my hope and joy in Jesus Christ and the coming return of my Savior, that changes everything. I wish I could bottle it up and pour it into each of you that are listening.
Emily: Laura and I wanted to talk a little bit about how to find joy, which she just got into and what we’ve been talking about, of looking to our internal reward and also recognizing joy is found in the presence of the Lord. I think sometimes too, when we are not experiencing joy, and we are having a hard time, remembering what God has done for us through salvation, and being grateful, and we are having a hard time thinking about His promises, we also haven’t been in His presence.
It’s really important to meet with the Lord, to pray and to worship Him and to have scripture in your heart. We talked about that in the Quiet Time episode, which you can go back and listen to. Another thing is having fellowship with other believers. I talked about praying. Even singing songs to God and obeying God’s word can produce joy in our hearts. You can study that in scripture and find a whole bunch of other ways that you can experience joy, not only in motherhood but as a person. I think that a lot of times joy isn’t necessarily a passive thing. It’s an active thing. It’s something that we can have in suffering. It’s something we can have in hard situations and it’s available to us.
Laura: True joy is way easier to see. It’s more bright when our circumstances are the worst. If we have that true joy, that’s when it’s really revealed, and this happens when we are going through that suffering. The biggest number one, is spending time with God. We talk about that a lot on the show. It’s also important to be grateful and to take time to thank God and praise Him. Emily and I both have Val Marie Paper’s prayer journal. She has a new Gratitude Journal out that I haven't done. Em, have you done it?
Emily: No, I haven’t.
Laura: We love her prayer journals. I bet the Gratitude Journal is super good. I’ve been following her on Instagram and saw it there – but praying before meals, that’s a great natural worked-in reminder to thank God or before bedtime. You can also do that with your kids. Em, any last thoughts before I do?
Emily: We want to remind you that, when you are in that moment and you are like, “I really want to have more joy,” before you run to the momentary things like the M&M bag – which you should know that joy will end up in your hips - just pause and think about what you are doing and realize, “Hey, I may find some joy here momentarily,” and that’s okay but it’s not going to sustain.
Laura: Those things are good in their right place. We are not hating on M&M’S. We do love M&M’S but like Em says, do a quick heart check first.
I feel this has been quite the whirlwind episode but if you are looking for show notes head over to risenmotherhood.com. Find us on Facebook, you guys. We are doing Facebook live a lot, and it’s been fun and sort of petrifying, but we’ll be sharing more over there. Find us on Facebook and give us a like. Find us on Twitter and then of course, we appreciate when you guys take time to write a review and rate us on iTunes. That is the best way to get the news out about the show besides you maybe blasting your friends with a link as well. That would be awesome.
See you guys next time.