Where did you go? And how do you find yourself again?
Sometimes we lose ourselves somewhere between that first sighting of two pink lines and the car full of kids we now mother. The days of refereeing fights and scrubbing gum off the sofa seem to outnumber the days of harmonious zoo trips and picture-perfect picnics in the backyard. Our lists of responsibilities far outweigh the number of minutes in our day.
I remember being the dreamy young wife with visions of tea parties and structured scripture memory with my not-yet-born children. I assumed I would have daughters with big bows and boys with white knee socks. I imagined sweet voices singing “Jesus Loves Me.” Being the oldest child and very disciplined myself, I felt very capable of pulling off this feat of mothering. Unaware of the strain the constancy of mothering would take on me, I rushed toward motherhood with enthusiasm and naiveté.
Within forty-eight hours of giving birth, I was absolutely clueless. I had an olive-skinned baby that smelled like angels and sounded like wolves calling from the edge of the woods. I didn’t know how to make her stop crying. The hospital staff expected us to take her home in the morning and I had no confidence in my ability to be her parent. I was not the person I thought I was.
The doubt swelled and relented in cycles in the following months. I struggled to learn the art of nursing and rejoiced when we got it all figured out. I giggled with delight every time my tiny baby girl did something new and screamed into my pillow when she wouldn’t stop crying. I showed up at church with the baby covered in lace and my face covered in smiles.
We are good at that, aren’t we? We can smooth out the wrinkles and pretend like our walk is straight and our heart is joyful. The truth isn’t always so pretty. The early years of parenting can contradict the vision of the kind of mother we thought we would be.
We know peace and wisdom can be found in the pages of scripture. But I didn’t feel it. I didn’t feel like opening my Bible. I didn’t feel like praying. I felt like sleeping and asking God why it was so very hard to do the thing I felt created to do—be a mother. This struggle was new for me. I felt lost.
While trudging along through the spiritual darkness of those early days of mothering, I also mentored a young mother. She was relatively new in her relationship with Christ. We paired up so I could encourage her along. She had no idea that I forced open my Bible before she came to visit so I would have something to share with her.
It was the forcing open of Truth that held me together in the early years of filling into motherhood.
God graciously pulled me into His Word and into His arms. I fought a little, just like my baby girl would fight to break free of her swaddle. As she was comforted by the closeness of the tightly wrapped blanket, so I was comforted by the close presence of my Abba Father.
Through the years of mothering, that one practice anchored me. Reading God’s Word helped me discover my evolving identity as a mother. Through His word, God directed me through decisions, sorrow, periods of sinful rebellion, and times of sweet joy. When nothing else was sure or stable in my life, God’s Word remained.
I’ve been a mama for twelve years exactly. That angel-wolf of a baby has her last teen-less birthday this week. In the last decade, I brought home two other babies, each time with a bit more confidence in my skills and a whole lot more dependence on my Savior. I cannot imagine trying to mother my children apart from the wisdom, comfort, and power found in God’s Word.
Dear mother, it may be the very last thing you want to do today. Your list is full, your eyes are heavy, your kids are loud, and your dinner is burning. Hear Him call you through the noise.
He knows our name. Not “mom,” but our real name. He knows each of us. Not the person that everyone else knows with all the smiles and hair bows and white knee socks. He knows when we grieve who we thought we could be. He knows the struggle to keep it together when all of the pieces fall apart. He knows we long for more purpose and more peace.
He has something to say to us. It’s in His Word. Trust him and force open the pages if you must. Make daily time with God a priority over everything. Time spent in His presence doesn’t have to be lengthy to be effective. Let’s find ourselves once again in the pages of scripture.
This Mother Letter was born out of a beautiful project by Seth and Amber Haines. Read more Mother Letters at the Mother Letter link up. For a collection of letters in a lovely book, stop by your local Barnes and Noble or visit Amazon to purchase The Mother Letters: Sharing the Laughter, Joy, Struggles, and Hope.
This post was also featured on Huffington Post.
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