Recently I found myself waist high and elbow deep into one of those nights. It was 9:30 pm, and there I was wrestling a two-year-old into pajamas and periodically breaking to chase her as she slipped out of my grasp and went running shirtless around the living room. My seven- year-old was tearfully venting frustration as he finally finished up the last of his homeschool work (which he’d refused to focus on earlier in the day), and my four-year-old who had been sick was in a needy emotional state.
Later, as I labored to put the two-year-old to sleep, she ran out of her room no less than four times seeking a snack, the potty, and who-knows-what. After wrangling her back for good she finally succumbed to throwing a fit on the floor.
Yeah … It was one of those nights.
And as I laid beside the youngest, listening for her breathing to finally slow and fall into a rythmic cadence, I was wracked with emotional guilt. I had directed a harsh tone at my son and daughter, the day had ended on a sour note, and I was emotionally and physically drained.
Maybe you’ve had nights like mine. Maybe you’ve days that leave you wanting to throw in the towel or write your resignation letter. I mean, let’s be honest … this stuff is hard! It’s hard if you have one child or multiples; it’s hard if your children are young or grown. It’s hard no matter your circumstances.
I have friends raising their own children while they foster additional kids. I have friends who have adopted littles from across the globe, and those who have called children with special needs their own. I have friends who are single moms and friends who feel like they’re single moms. I have sleep-deprived friends in the newborn phase and worry-wrought friends navigating the high school years. I have friends raising their kids across various economic and racial boundaries. I have friends who are young moms, and I have friends raising their own grandchildren. Their mothering stories span every circumstance, but when I look in each of their eyes and hear their individual stories, one common thread repeats: This is hard; this is fall-on-your-face, wear-out-the-prayer-knees, didn’t-expect-it-to-be-like-this-hard.
It’s hard for you, it’s hard for me, and it’s hard for every other woman who has ever loved a child with the all-consuming fierceness of a mother’s love.
It should come as no surprise, really. We sinful humans bring sinful children into a sinful world, and it’s a recipe ripe for refining, stretching, molding, and shaping in all its glory and grit.
The question then becomes how do we overcome hardship with grace? How do we love and lead our children in a way that reflects forgiveness, mercy, and compassion? How do we redeem nights you want to forget and days you’d like to erase?
In John 16:33, Jesus tells his disciples: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
We are not guaranteed a trouble-free life or stress-free motherhood. We are, in fact, told to expect trouble. But we have His promise that He has overcome, and that is the promise to which we cling. We can’t love and lead with grace out of our own sheer will. We can’t teach repentance and model forgiveness out of our own ability. And we certainly can’t redeem the hard times and point our kids to Christ with our own good intentions.
We can only overcome hardship with grace when we lean on Him to do it for us.
He has overcome the world, and He has overcome …
Your exhausted, sleepless nights
Your worries that rarely cease
Your harsh words spoken in frustration
Your insecurities in this calling
Your doubts and fear
Your shortcomings and your mistakes
He has overcome it all!
Thus, we can extend grace and model forgiveness only because He first extended it to us. We can rise in the morning and face the challenges of the day, every day, because He has already overcome. He knows what stumbling blocks stand in your way, what challenges lie ahead, what hardships you may have to endure. He knows, and therefore there is no one better to lead you.
So listen up, sweet mama! When the days are long and the nights longer still, when you want to throw in the towel and write your resignation letter, He has promised to carry you through. He is your light upon the path, your guidepost through the journey, your shelter from the storm.
Let that sink into the core of your mama heart. And as it does, as it permeates those layers and begins to take root, also know that you’re not alone in this. Because there are a host of fellow moms cheering you on.
Sometimes this can feel like the loneliest role, but you need to know that I’m in your corner, and those stretched-thin moms mentioned above? They are too. This isn’t a competition, a race, an I-can-do-it-better boasting opportunity. This motherhood calling is a sisterhood. And I’m rooting for you, sister.
So take a deep breath.
You can do the hard, stretched-thin, sanctifying work because He has already overcome it. And you can walk the journey following His lead knowing that there are fellow moms walking beside you.
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