If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!
We all know it’s true! Whatever emotion you are feeling as a mom has the tendency to spill over onto the rest of the people in your home. That’s because God has programmed into us these things called mirror neurons. Mirror neurons are cells in your brain that cause you to mimic the actions observed by another person. In other words, we “mirror” the facial expressions and behaviors of the people around us. That’s why you can coo and smile at a baby and they’ll copy you. Or why when you feel grouchy every else in your home seems extra testy. Our kids will mirror what we are showing them. That’s why the statement, “the mother is the thermostat of the home” is literally true.
So what do we want our kids to mirror?! The thing they need the most of is JOY.
JOY is the feeling that someone is glad to be with you. Not just in your good moments, but for exactly who you are at any time.
It’s the knowledge that you belong and are accepted.
Our kids need joy! They need to know they belong in their family and that they are loved unconditionally. They need this because it actually grows their brain and helps them develop the skills they need to thrive.
But as moms, we can only give joy if we have joy. And not just fake happiness, but genuine inner happiness.
HOW DO WE GET GENUINE JOY?
1. Grow in Gratitude towards God. The best way to feel genuine joy is to focus on the things God has done for you.
The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. Psalm 126:3
(Incidentally this is our Selah theme verse for October.)
This takes choosing to stop and meditate on the good things in your life, regardless of whatever else is going on in your life. If you can’t think of anything good, start by focusing on the fact that Christ died for you and paid the price for your sins; the most amazing gift!
A great challenge from Pam Vredevelt at the September Women’s conference was to start and end the day by journaling three things you are thankful for. Research shows that doing this changes a person’s capacity and joy levels.
2. Learn to Receive God’s Love. We can’t give away what we don’t have. If we can’t feel and receive God’s love then we will struggle to have genuine joy and we won’t have it to give to our kids.
This past summer as part of the Selah Moms Mentoring group, we memorized 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 together, with the focus being that this is how God loves us!
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
God, our Rock, our King, the Master of the Universe and Sovereign Lord, always looks at us with love, kindness, patience, hope, and grace. He’s not upset when we mess up, again. He never abandons us or puts us into time away from Him when fail to obey. He doesn’t wish we’d be more like so-and-so. He doesn’t roll his eyes in frustration. And He’s never disappointed in us.
If we could truly grasp this, we would be different moms! When we take time to feel loved by God, we have confidence, strength and true joy.
3. Smile at your kids & spouse. Since learning about the importance of joy I’ve made the effort to smile and say something positive to my kids when I first see them in the morning. This sets the tone for the day and has changed our home. I also try to remember to do this for Kris when he comes home from work; to stop what I’m doing and greet him with a smile. It’s amazing how much of a difference a simple smile can make. Sometimes you won’t feel like doing it, but just the act of smiling can change your own heart and feelings.
4. Fight against the enemy. As women, we can so easily get down on ourselves. When we mess up we quickly feel like failures and say things like: “Why can’t I change? Why can’t I act differently? Why can’t I control myself? No one likes me.” When we ruminate on negative thoughts about ourselves, our capacity and joy shrinks. The enemy loves this. He wants you to feel like a victim and that no one loves you. He loves when this causes you to lash out at the people in your life you are supposed to love. He wants you to believe lies about yourself so that you can’t be the mom God’s created you to be.
We have to fight against this! Those negative thoughts in our heads are not reality and they are not how God sees us! Stop thinking them because they sap your joy and strength.
I know firsthand that making the effort to do these things is not always easy! But it’s worth it!!
I will be praying that God fills you with a new revelation of how much he loves you so you can go to a new level of joy.