I was going to write another post but this one seemed more vulnerable—because it is happening right now. I’m trying to be more honest here on the blog: not in a sixth grade confessional kind of way, but in a strong but soft, feminine way. I want to be a woman who isn’t afraid to boast in her weaknesses, not for sympathy but because Christ is strengthening me in the midst of my own selfishness, and He deserves the glory for it.
Recently, I told my husband—they are wearing me down! ‘they’ being our two adorable boys—Athanasius(18 months) and Lukas (3 months).
Motherhood is the hardest thing I’ve had to do. I’m speaking from my limited experience. Many have done harder things than I have, and I’m humbled by their faithfulness, but this is the hardest and most joyful road I have walked thus far.
Before we had Lukas, I remember a night where I sat up in bed telling Doug and that I knew life was going to get hard and that having a new baby would inevitably expose selfishness that had been hiding under the surface for a while. I knew that I was going to be stretched beyond what I thought my limits were and I was scared. I kind of felt like I was standing at the beginning of a new race and I wasn’t sure that I had trained well.
Since having Lukas, those things have been true—I have been stretched and my selfishness has been exposed. My heart has stretched to love another completely. My body stretched beyond what I thought I could handle with a 24 hour active labor. My emotions have been stretched to deal with the extreme exhaustion of no sleep and having a young baby and a toddler. My spirit has been stretched by the realization that I am weak and in need of profound help and forgiveness.
In all of this stretching, I have been sustained by Jesus. Do you know how I know that Jesus sustained me? Because all of that stretching didn’t break me. Before you think this is a crappy, self-praising internet meme, keep reading. I am still here, not because I’m a survivor like the Destiny’s Child song. There are many times that I want to quit. But God has kept me in the race. He has put my feet to the pavement. He has kept me moving.
Sometimes instead of being thankful for being sustained, I just want the race to get easier. I don’t notice that God is carrying me along, instead on bad days I don’t want to be in the race at all. But the race—the work that God has given me is good and great work. My children are a weighty, wonderful joyful blessing and I’m thankful God has chosen this means for my growth.
I was reading a chapter from a favorite motherhood book of mine “Fit to Burst,” and the author, Rachel Jankovick states, “I think it is common to have this mental ideal of what your days as a mother are supposed to be like. We think that if we were doing motherhood right, then it wouldn’t be this hard. Of course there are a lot of ways to improve what we do, to make things easier. But that’s like improving a runner’s form. You still have to run, and it won’t be easy. You can continue training to the point that you are no longer puking in the bushes and all red in the face by the end of the first block, but you aren’t ever going to take the running out of running.”
You can’t take the running out of running and similarly, you can’t take the hard work out of mothering. You’re not doing it wrong if it’s difficult. Sure, like Rachel writes, there are many ways you can improve yourself. Mothers of 4 or five kids are more efficient and capable mothers than I am. They have improved their form; they aren’t puking in the bushes, but they are still running. You can’t take the running out of running.
My selfishness asks for an easier race, because frankly, I loathe running, but thankfully God knows best. He is the one who sustains me throughout the race. In James 1:3 it says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” Right now, motherhood is my work and my test. I pray to God that it will produce perseverance.
If you feel like you’re at the end of yourself because you feel exhausted from the race (whatever yours is), don’t worry. You’re doing it right. God calls everyone to give all of themselves, their body, hearts, spirits and emotions for His Kingdom.
We can’t point to ourselves for keeping on in the race. We aren’t Destiny’s Child “Survivors.” That kind of thinking robs God of His glory. God sustains me through this race, and He will see it finished. I know because He keeps His promises: “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Phillipians 1:6)”