A fight for joy and purpose right in the thick of motherhood
There are some days as a mama of 4 littles that are just perfectly perfect; Pinterest-worthy, and Instagram-perfect. You know the ones, right? Beautiful women all over the globe have them most every day. Then those days and moments are blogged and photographed with perfect lighting, or at least the perfect filter, then shared for all to see and enjoy.
I do believe that these perfect days exist, but in a different way than is often perceived in our media driven culture. Mamas are in for a wake up call when our everyday lives don’t seem to be measuring up to what we are watching through the screen. Please don’t get me wrong, most of the time these images and descriptions inspire me because it is refreshing to see the beauty of motherhood showcased. But sometimes, all the happy little photo squares are too much, and all it does in me is breed dissatisfaction and an awful comparison game.
Nothing empties me like motherhood. The majority of my waking hours are spent in constant giving and pouring out of myself into small humans. When I sit to rest in the middle of the afternoon, sipping my 3rd cup of coffee for the day, with dirty hair, clean workout clothes, and a mountain of dishes I am choosing to ignore, I experience the temptation to be bitter about this season, and my role in it.
Those are the days I know really well. Far-from-perfect days try and break me. Every single minute, my flesh is rising, and my strength is weak. I struggle with my own selfishness, bad attitude, and lack of grace. These are the days that will either drive me deeper into the arms of Jesus, or cause bitter roots to plunge into the depths of me.
Do you have dreams and visions you are becoming frustrated about because you feel trapped in this motherhood role? I have found it ironic that my dissatisfaction towards my current role as “just Mama” is often coupled with visions I have of “doing Christian ministry” and “doing great things” for God. Somewhere along the road, I began believing a lie, and I don’t think I am alone; the lie that whispers the mundane of motherhood absolutely is not the most important work God has for me right now.
I started to believe that in order to make an impact it must be a BIG impact, something people can see, something I get credit for, something bigger even than the work of raising these babies for the glory of God. This is where I miss it big time. Sometimes the mustard-seed acts of faith (mothering) grow to be the greatest trees of accomplishment (children who are raised to love Christ). Can anything be greater?
So do not lose heart mamas, be encouraged! This season of mothering small children is more meaningful than you realize, and quite possibly the season God wants to begin speaking to you more than He ever has before. This is the time for you to grow right along side your little children: grow in grace, grow in truth, and grow in love. Learn the love of the Father as you parent your own children.
You feel empty, but He is ready to overwhelm you. God has unending deposits He wants to pour out upon you. With this outpouring, He is equipping you to disciple the next generation. How have we let the lie that this role is not important infiltrate our hearts and minds? Maybe we have lost sight of the simplicity and purity of the gospel. Maybe we have gazed too long on what the world says about womanhood and motherhood.
Let this be a time of underground growth. When you are caring for small children, there is a natural form of isolation that exists, especially if you lived a busy and active lifestyle before having children. Embrace this change, and ask God what He has for you now. This might mean staying home, being less busy, listening more, praying more. This is a season that He wants to form and shape YOU, as you diligently work to form and shape your littles.
He is working in you now during these hard days, and He yearns to show Himself to you. Look to Jesus for your marching orders, do not stare at squares on the screen to tell you what you should or should not be doing. Understand your boundary lines in this season are for a purpose. They are for your benefit. When I begin to feel overwhelmed with my role and responsibilities as Mama, these scriptures have been a breath of life to me:
- The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. Psalm 16:6
- You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Psalm 139:5
- And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Phillipians 1:6
Though challenging at times, and not without personal failures, I am choosing daily to rejoice in the emptying of myself to my children and others. I can rejoice because I choose to let Jesus be the One who re-fills, and re-fuels my soul with His unending love and grace. I choose to recognize that the discipleship of my own children is a task in which angels rejoice, and God desires. I choose to embrace this season, and not despise it. I choose to let it inspire me. Oh the joy that comes from being a vessel poured out for His glory! His boundary lines for my life are full of pleasure, for in His presence I am full of joy.
Meet Marianne Sloan
I want to introduce Marianne Sloan. Her and her husband, Luke, live in the Nashville area. Marianne and I have several mutual friends. At a dinner last August one of those friends was telling me about her. That friend went on to say that not only does Marianne help her husband run their digital marketing agency (http://www.vertical-web.com) but she also homes schools her four kids. The friend said that whenever she needs any parenting help or good counsel Marianne is one of her go-to people. After meeting her myself and seeing the depth of insight just on Instagram, I have been nothing but inspired by the intention and focus Marianne puts into her life. If Nashville and Dallas were closer I would want to go get coffee, bring a notepad, and sit and listen to her share her heart. It is an honor to post her insight here on the Refresh blog. Enjoy. - Jamie