The other night at supper, I looked around my table and had one of those moments of unbelief: I have 4 kids!
When Kris and I first got married, I wasn’t sure I wanted kids. I loved my independence and freedom. I liked my clean house. And I liked my sleep! I had done enough babysitting to know that kids were the opposite of all those things. But Kris loved kids and wanted lots of them – a bus load, he said. So he was secretly praying that we would get pregnant. I guess he’s closer to God because he got what he asked for!
In February of 2005, I caught a flu bug that I just couldn’t shake. My co-worker kept asking me if I was pregnant but I assured her that it wasn’t possible and finally bought a test just to prove it to her. It turned out she was right! Baby Joy was on her way. This was a crazy shock. This wasn’t in the plan. I remember sitting on the edge of my bed trying to come to terms with the way our lives, and my body, were about to change.
This was the first time I remember needing God to be my rock in motherhood. I didn’t even have a baby in my arms yet and I needed Him to help me love it. As I prayed, God changed my heart. He showed me how much He really loves kids and values families. This helped me have the desire to meet and raise the child He had divinely put in our lives.
Even though I had had this heart change, motherhood was still a crazy ride! No one can really prepare you for it and it turns your life upside down. They are these odd creatures that make your life feel unbelievably chaotic (sleepless nights, endless diaper changes and laundry, crying every time you try to get some housework done, etc., etc.) and yet you feel lonely and deprived of human contact. I had naively believed that I could keep doing all the things I had been doing before baby. I remember this one day when I had planned to have my cell ladies over and my baby just wouldn’t stop crying. I didn’t know how to soothe her but I had people coming over and needed to cleanup my house. I started crying with my baby and called out to God for help. Immediately I felt a sense of peace wash over me. The situation itself didn’t change. My baby didn’t immediately stop crying. My house didn’t get cleaned. But I felt an assurance that everything would work out. I was standing on the rock and I didn’t feel as shaky.
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all He has done. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand.
Besides learning how to call out for help in my overwhelm, I also quickly learned that a big part of having children is a character test! Can we let go of our own selfish desires and care for another human being who doesn’t say thank you? Can we exhibit limitless patience and unconditional love? Can we deal with our negative emotions (anger, sadness, fear, shame, hopeless despair and disgust) so we can grow in joy? These are hard lessons and without God, I honestly don’t know how people do it. As parents, we have to fight against ourselves every day in order to be able to give the love our kids need. As Christian parents, we also have to fight the enemy who’s prowling around reminding us at every turn that we don’t get to do what we want anymore. As a fiercely independent soul, (my first words were “I do it!”) I still struggle with this dying-to-self part. But when I tell God how I feel and let Him speak words of guidance, I again feel like I’m on The Rock and have greater strength to do the right thing.
One of the most beautiful things about motherhood is that it has helped me discover more of who I am and what I am created to do. At first it felt like an identity crisis. I am a goal driven, task focused person who loves to have purpose. Once I had kids, I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do with my days. I wasn’t good at the whole play thing and I felt bored and unproductive. I remember feeling bitterly jealous of Kris when he got to leave the house to go to work. I wanted a reason to get out of the house but not just to go shopping or have coffee.
I began to pray for something significant to do. It took several months of praying before it became clear that God was asking me to start a moms ministry at Southland. Yes, I was praying for something to do for God, but I didn’t expect that! I was a young mom who didn’t know what I was doing. Who was I to tell other moms what to do? But after laying out many fleeces & having many people pray for me, I felt sure this was in fact what God was calling me to. So, I mustered up my courage and said yes to God.
That was 8 years ago and looking back, it was the best decision I could have ever made for my motherhood journey! Was it easy? No. There were many times when I wanted to let it go. There were sleepless nights of anxiety as I worked through my fears. There was exhaustion as I tried to parent and homeschool and work. There was drama and conflict and dealing with criticism. But there was also purpose and incredible joy! As I let God help me through every hard spot, I grew in confidence and faith. Plus, the responsibility I had of leading other moms has held me accountable to continually work on my own character and parenting skills. I still make many mistakes, but being part of a community of moms has given me the security to know that I’m not alone (every mom makes mistakes) and I’m not a failure when I do.
A verse that’s been a key source of strength for me is Matthew 11:28-30 which says: “Come to me, all you who are weary & burdened, & I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you & learn from me, for I am gentle & humble in heart, & you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy & my burden is light.”
Most recently God’s been showing me that the ultimate way to put our homes on The Rock is to be rooted and grounded in His love. This past summer I led a Moms Mentoring Group that focused on feeling God’s love for us as moms. We memorized 1 Cor 13:4-8 together and saturated ourselves in the knowledge that God is those things (patient, kind, etc.) and feels those things for us as moms. He’s not shaking His finger at us when we make a mistake, or wishing that we would change. Instead, He always looks at us with hope! He will never give up on us. And He’s always cheering for us.
My prayer for all of you Selah moms this year is that you grow in being able to receive God’s faithful and enduring love. Then you will truly be building your home on The Rock!