I dreamed that as a mother…
- I would have children that loved vegetables
- They would wear adorable vintage clothing that I made by hand
- I dreamed that I would churn my own butter and cook every meal from scratch
- I’d keep a spotless house and have a massive garden with some hens
- I would do elaborate crafts every day with the kids (that would go just as planned) and write my own homeschool curriculum
- They would go to bed at an early hour and sleep through the night
- Everyone would be joyful and happy all the time.
So fast forward several years later…
- I have a brilliant, three-and-a-half-years-old daughter who refuses to touch a vegetable (Aspergers + sensory issues) and is terrified of the potty. I have a two years old daughter who thinks its ok to try to scale the rock fireplace and is so enthusiastic about life that she tends to make massive amounts of mess with … well… everything she does.
- Their clothes are well loved and used and are by no means anything that I have made by hand.
- Food …. well … I do try to make it all from scratch, but frankly most days we grab something quick from the freezer or Taco Bell.
- My house is barely in the tidy category. Our grass gets in pitiful condition before it ever gets mowed, much less a garden planted or a place for hens created.
- Crafts are rather infrequent and never go as planned. The girls are just now liking me to read to them so we are not getting very far with homeschooling preschool
- My husband and I are co-sleeping with the babies in separate beds because its the only thing that works for us at the moment, therefore no one goes to bed at a decent time or sleeps through the night.
- I am just now coming out of a 3-year Chronic Post Partum Depression battle. So between a wife of a seminary student, a mother, a family member, a church member, a writer, an artist etc – stress is pretty high, so “happy all the time” is rather laughable
But we ARE joyful. We are so immensely grateful and blessed. My little family by no means resemble the Von Trapp family, all smiling, and lined up in a row – but we can say that this is God’s best for us. This is His perfect plan to help us grow in holiness and for His glory.
I have had the opportunity to discuss this very topic with a group of 650 women. And astonishingly enough, everyone had virtually the same story: motherhood is ridiculously difficult. Nothing prepared me for how physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausting it is. The vast majority of the group said that they struggle with feeling like a failure, that they are going through a serious struggle with guilt, and shame.
According to this Gallup Poll, Stay at Home Moms are slightly more likely than moms employed outside the home to feel negative emotions on a daily basis and to have been diagnosed with clinical depression.
The discussion with the group of women continued on for some time. Everyone was asking “Why? Why is this so common? Why is staying at the home to raise up children for the Lord so closely connected with failure, guilt, and shame? Why is such a noble and honorable calling bringing so many women into clinical depression?”
Shame and Guilt are not from God. They are the result of sin. We first see these emotions in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve sinned, they did not trust God is who He says He is. And in doing so, were filled with shame and guilt and tried to hide from God. Guilt and Shame drive us away from God. It makes us want to hide. When we as believers sin, God loves us enough to discipline us – which makes us feel Convicted. Conviction drives us TOWARDS him in repentance, not away from Him to hide.
Maybe, we get focused on what we think is best, instead of trusting God to give us His best. We want a life that is easy and comfortable. But God wants us to become more like Christ, which most likely won’t be easy or comfortable – but it will be more beautiful than any scenario we can dream up. All because we will be able to see and reflect the beauty of Christ.
Maybe, we think that we have to do good in order to be loved instead of trusting God and obeying as a response to His love. We can never be good enough. One tiny sin against the All-Holy, Creator of Everything deserves eternity in Hell. We cannot do penance enough to pay for the price of even ONE sin.
Perhaps, we forget that we are not the Holy Spirit. How easy it is to want to bring conviction to our children – instead of trusting God with their souls. How quickly we get angry when they sin. How often do we worry about what they are turning out to be – when in fact, we are not responsible for their choices. We will be held accountable for training them, not for the choices they make.
We can trust God with the souls of our children. We do not have to mold our kids into what God wants them to be – He will do that. God knows exactly what He has created these children to be, and what their futures will hold. He knows every hair on their head. He will arrange everything to be exactly like it needs to be for their sanctification too. We don’t have to worry about creating the Fruit of the Spirit in their hearts – that’s the role of the Holy Spirit.
This mindset of having to work-work-work will lead to unbearable guilt and fear. How many times have we as mothers laid awake at night, going over every tiny mistake we made, and being absolutely obsessed over own every failure? Worrying that we are scaring our children for life? How quickly we fail to trust God’s Faithfulness!
Maybe, it’s because we have forgotten the Gospel. I am a wretched sinner, who deserves Hell, but God in His Grace and Mercy paid the penalty for my sins on the cross so that I might repent and believe in Him and be reconciled to Him.
Trusting God quietens our fears and places our focus on Him instead of at our own selves. Trusting God brings peace, joy, and hope. It is only when we trust God that we can do our children any good at all. God is doing more good than I could ever imagine (Eph. 3:20. God has promised to exalt the humble (Jam. 4:10) and to reward our faithfulness (Col. 3:23-24.).
God has chosen ME to be the mother of my children. I can trust that He is doing good TO ME, passionately, actively – He wants to sanctify me (Heb. 12:10.) And though I don’t understand it all – I have to trust that I am the best choice for them, and they are the best choice for me.
“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13”
We are commanded to “Train up our children in the way they should go…” (Prov. 22:6.) Which is living out part of the Great Commission in our very homes. There is not a more significant calling than to pass on the legacy of our faith to the next generation! So even when things are chaotic and not at all the way we imagined it would be – we can cling to joy, and hope, knowing with full assurance of God’s sovereign goodness.