I spent the first six years of motherhood believing I was a failure.
Years flowed faster and faster like a rushing river. It felt like I forgot to wear my life jacket as the current pulled me under with rapids of comparison and self-judgment. I struggled to break free for air, but lies kept pulling me down. Daily. Hourly. Sometimes every moment.
Although God’s love freed me from the entanglement, some days I still feel the drowning sensation. Am I failing as a mom? Is God pleased with my efforts? How can I break free from the dark moments of swirling, murky water suppressing my breath of joy?
The cords of death entangled me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.
The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snares of death confronted me.
In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.
Yes, mothering is hard and work, but the joys are buoyant.
The joys of baking with my little sous-chefs, rounds of Candy Land, and little arms reaching out for one more hug before bed. Days marked by precious joys of first day of school smiles and reading Lama Lama Red Pajama for the hundredth time.
I remember these moments of joy, but no matter how hard I work, sometimes I feel like a failure. I could bake all day with my kids and not read the Bible: fail. I could clean the house to perfection, but burn dinner: fail. I could plan an amazing Legos birthday party full of Pinterest-worthy lego puppets and games made from scratch, but snap at my family because of the stress. Fail. Fail. Fail.
I look down at the undone instead of up at the Holy One.
I critique the good work God provides for me by my measurement of goodness, often the result of comparing myself to other Christian moms. And check off my mental list:
- I should read the Bible more today.
- Cuddle the kids more.
- Cook a better meal.
- Clean the house better.
- Call my friend.
- Be more patient.
- Turn off the video.
- Teach them more about the world.
In some way, every day, I fail this list (and the others not listed).
A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God.
So, how can we ever find satisfaction in our toil as mom?
The summer we moved to Fort Worth, TX, I almost drowned. Lonely. Grieving the death of a family member. Plopped into the waters of “Where will the kids go to school?” “What do you do on a hot day when you live in an apartment in the city?” “How can I get my boys to stop fighting for ten minutes?” “What is making my son with allergies to break out in hives—again?” Oh, and surviving the sickness of an early (unexpected) pregnancy.
I cried out to the Lord many days as the currents pulled me down and threatened to keep me there.
An arm reached down in the water when a friend asked me to write something for him. A simple assignment, reflecting on a difficult past season of shame years ago—when I made some pretty harmful choices in college—and how God lifted me out.
Writing for my friend reminded me of God’s love and truth—two things we need to for freedom.
2 Steps to Freedom:
1) God’s unconditional love.
He loved us from our mother’s womb. He died on the cross for us before we called Him Lord. He loves us before we roll out of bed in the morning—before we “do” anything for Him or someone else.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
This remembrance quickly pulled me to the surface.
2) Replace lies with truth.
We mamas believe so many lies – so many untruths that steal our joy and threaten to drown us in shame and doubt.
1) What is the lie?
What are you thinking or believing that is discouraging you or causing you to feel like a failure?
2) What does God’s Word say?
Ask the Lord to bring to mind the truth hidden in your heart that relates to how you are feeling/thinking. When scriptures or stories slide into your mind, look them up in the Bible (or on your device) and read them. If nothing pops up in your mind, google for Bible stories or ask a friend to help you know where to read.
3) So, what is the truth?
Once we find the truth in God’s Word, read it over and over. Think on it, pray on it. That way when the negative talk pops up inward, you are prepared to look upward.
May we take every thought captive and bring it into obedience to Christ, which sets us free from the lies that so easily entangle us.
How about you? What lie have you believed and what truth from God’s word helps set you free? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
PRAY: God, thank You for Your truth. Please help me recognize the lies that I believe about myself and my mothering. Help me to know Your word to replace these lies and live in freedom. In Jesus’s name I pray, AMEN.
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