This past month I’ve struggled a lot in my motherhood. I’ve been frustrated a lot. I’ve been exhausted. I’ve been completely overwhelmed. I’ve felt like a bad mom, and then felt guilty for being a bad mom. I’ve yelled at my kids every single day (most times I apologized, but there were times I felt so justified in my anger that I just let it slide. Since we’re being completely honest here….). Siena has told me multiple times a week, “mom, why are you so frustrated?”. And I’ve tried so hard to get better.
I’ve read my Bible.
I’ve read encouraging blog posts.
I’ve talked with other moms that I love and trust and as we go around the room sharing our struggles we all nod in agreement of the difficulties and the desire to do better.
But nothing changed me. I am not good at faking it in front of my kids. If I’m having a hard time, they know it. I even tell them, “mommy’s having a hard day, can you please try and get along?”. Then I feel guilty that I can’t even handle being their mom, and I try to paste on some smiles, do some fun activities, and I do enjoy it. But it’s been hard, in what feels like a never ending exhaustion of kid care. I’ve even had nights out, Steve watched the kids and I got some “alone time”. But did that refresh me? Did that give me a new perspective and make the burden light? Only for a few hours, after which my old exhaustion, and frustration with the bickering and constant neediness kicked right back into full gear.
I read lots of blog posts about patient mothering, having a yell-free 2014, reminders to “do less” and “it’s just hard right now and that’s ok”. There are good things in those posts, and they were encouraging. But they didn’t change my heart and give me more patience. I loved the idea of them, but had no idea how to translate it from the page to my own situation and heart.
I’ve thought about people who have cancer. Who have kids who have cancer. Whose husbands have disabilities and don’t have the kind of support I do from Steve. Who don’t even have kids but want them desperately. And did that change me and make me a joy-filled, patient, and loving mom?
Sigh….. Talk about hopeless!! I hadn’t given up because I trust in our great God, I knew that he would come through. But I didn’t know how. And I didn’t know what to do with this hard time I was walking through. I was just plodding through, hoping I wasn’t causing too much damage to my kids as I worked through my own issues. I needed a miracle.
And I got one. A few days ago, I “got over the hump”. Which is a silly way of putting “God miraculously changed my heart and gave me patience and joy and LOVE for my kids!!”. It’s like someone flipped a switch, but really what happened is that the God of the universe reached down and touched my heart, my heart, and made me more holy, more like himself. He showed me how weak I am, how much I need him. He made me desperate so that when the change came I would know it wasn’t in my own strength, it was all him. Yesterday I read this in 2 Corinthians 12:
“Therefore, so that I would not exalt myself, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to torment me so I would not exalt myself. Concerning this, I pleaded with the Lord three times to take it away from me. But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me. So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, catastrophes, persecutions, and in pressures, because of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Paul knew he had reason to boast. But to guard him from pride, God gave him the thorn in the flesh. And not only was he protecting Paul from exalting himself, he was showing His strength in Paul’s weakness. The end result was that the focus was taken completely off of Paul and all he had to brag about, and completely focused on God’s power and strength. God gets the glory, Paul is made holy and has joy. Win-win.
See, God works amazing miracles every day, but sometimes we’re expecting the big flashy ones so we miss the subtle ones that are completely life changing! And that’s what I got. Now all those encouraging mom chats, and blog posts have context. I feel I can apply some of the advice because my foundational outlook has shifted. And I can’t even describe it all, I just know I have joy.
I’m so grateful, y’all. God has been so good! I’m blown away by the transformation, and it is not me. I have had so much joy in my kids’ little sentences and accomplishments. I’ve had patience despite spills and craziness, and an overwhelming demand for mom in almost every moment of the day. I’ve been smiling, happy. It’s like God revealed all the more that he is on the throne, he is good, he is worth walking through difficulties. There is an end goal, and that goal is glorifying God forever, and I’m excited about that again! And it makes the every day bumps seem so small, and it reminds me of all the beautiful blessings he’s given me in these short moments I have here on earth. I can be grateful again because I remembered the One who deserves that gratefulness!
Better sign off. Have to go shower, and hopefully take a short nap. We were ALL up late last night and everyone’s a bit grouchy today, so I’m using more of that God-given patience today (and yes, I’ve gotten a little frustrated and said sorry a couple times. God has given me so much more repentance when I mess up!). But if you’re looking for a way to be a great mom, remember this:
It’s all God. Ask him. He’ll give it to you. Maybe not in the way you expect, but trust me, he’ll come through.
Happy New Year!