I’m sitting here exhausted from a challenging night with my kiddos (them waking up a lot, lots of tears, and very little sleep) but I am believing there is something to be learned and a message to be shared. With Mother’s Day approaching I find myself pondering all sorts of things that occur on this journey. I’m so thankful for the joy my kids bring to my life and cannot begin to imagine it without them. I love being a mommy, and in so many ways, it is such a blessing.
But after rough nights, days, and even weeks (or longer), can there be blessings found? Can there possibly be something great and lasting in midst of the challenges that we face? When the little one won’t sleep consistently through the night? When everything in you is longing to lay back down in bed instead of getting up to care for their needs? When one more thing is needed from mommy before she can go and take care of herself (like to eat, or drink, or go to the bathroom…)? I think there is! I think there is so much goodness for us in midst of the challenges of motherhood.
Now certainly when compared with persecution, loss, and the tragedies that people are constantly facing in the world, these little matters that mothers of young kids face seem quite light and momentary, and they definitely are. But, we shouldn’t down play their importance, their significance, and the ways that The Lord can use them in a momma’s life. He is there to meet us every day and in every moment. When you are awake more than asleep some nights, or when all you want is for everyone to nap but the kids don’t share your desire, or when you are having to correct that same issue in your little one for the umpteenth time, God is there and wants to use all of those crazy moments of motherhood for a glorious purpose in our lives.
He wants us to be more like Jesus.
I often refer to my kids as “my little sanctification machines,” meaning God uses them more than just about anything else to reveal and strip away sin in my life, and to help me be more like Jesus. And, most often that process of becoming more like Jesus (which I so desperately want!) happens when the going gets tough in being a mommy. So today, after a rather challenging night/early morning of being a mother to 3 kiddos, I thought I would share a few things that God graciously brought to mind that are helpful as I journey along this path I am on. Maybe they will encourage you as well!
1. God sees me.
This was huge for me this morning, huge! Sometimes at 3 am, 5 am, or 6:15 am for the day (like today), it would be nice if someone was with me patting my back and happily cheering me along saying something like, “Heather, you are such a good momma. You are serving your kids so well!” Wouldn’t that be nice? Wouldn’t that be helpful in the wee hours of the morning to help us push through and serve with joy? Even though there isn’t another physical body encouraging me, I was reminded today that I am not alone. God is very much so present with me and helping me serve and care for my kids. And even though it’s not an actual voice, I hear these words in my mind:
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Ps. 46:1
It says He is a very present help. Present. There with me. What a comfort!
2. Just as important as serving is HOW I serve.
We have a command in the bible that is quite challenging to obey in the middle of the night or at any moment when things are tough…
“Do all things without grumbling or questioning.” Phil. 2:14
I will say that more often than not I struggle with grumbling, at the very least in my heart, when I am awakened by a little one. I struggle with grumbling in my heart when I don’t get to do what I want to do, or when things are not convenient. But praise God there is grace, and there is a beautiful purpose for us to follow this command.
“that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.” Phil. 2:15
Not grumbling, not complaining, and serving with joy gives us the opportunity to shine brightly the image of Christ. I want my kids to see me shining Christ and not be a big ball of complaint as I serve them, and maybe God would be gracious and work that for good in their lives. Again, I struggle here and by no means do this perfectly! I DEPEND on God’s grace as I am a weak and sinful person. I just love the fact that clearly there is a good product that comes with not grumbling and complaining. It’s motivating to see that laid out!
3. Seek and be satisfied with the praise of God.
A lot of what moms do go unnoticed. There is no award for most dirty faces wiped cleaned in a day, or most joyful spirit after going grocery shopping with multiple children. We are expected to serve, and sacrifice, and love with very little praise or affirmation. I am thankful that I have a husband who is aware and so appreciative of the job I do with the kids (and is ever patient with me and the constant laundry, dishes, and messes that are present in our home!), but even he doesn’t praise me perfectly. He nor anyone else knows when I choose joy in a moment that is tough.
But God sees it. He knows every single sacrifice and every effort that we take to love and care for our kids. He knows when we struggle with selfishness and rejoices when we choose to lay ourselves aside and put others first. What we do in the unseen moments are seen by our creator, and His praise when we choose rightly is worth more than any that others could give us.
4. Sacrifice is a good thing.
Humans are hard-wired for self-preservation, and sacrifice goes directly against that desire. Putting others first could mean that we suffer or experience difficulty, and who wants that? But, it’s what we as parents, and ultimately Christians, are called to do. But again, it’s for a beautiful purpose, and not without it’s reward.
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
We sacrifice and live for a purpose that is unseen and eternal. If we live a life of faith and serve with faith knowing that this life is not all that there is, then we will not only please God while on this earth but also enjoy the blessedness of His presence in Heaven one day. Every sacrifice for my kids is making me more like Jesus, who sacrificed His rights and comforts to bring me into right relationship with God.
5. God is working in my weakness.
Every moment that I believe He is helping me, that I serve with joy, am satisfied with His praise, and sacrifice for the good of those around me is a moment that I can see God’s work in my life! I cannot do any of those things apart from Christ. Seeing glimpses and evidences of His grace at work in my life and in my parenting is so encouraging and motivating. Even something as small as choosing to get up off the chair to look for a toy for one of my kids is evidence of Christ working in my weakness. From the largest sacrifice, to the smallest effort, it’s all God working and helping us. We are weak, but He is strong. All the credit is due Him!
So serve on momma! Love those kids with the love of Jesus! May we sacrifice for their good, and not for the praise of others but for the praise of God. I pray He would use our imperfect and weak lives for His glory.
Blessings to you,
**And to my wonderful, wonderful momma…
Thank you for your example of sacrificing for me, for your joyful service to care for and love me, and for trusting the Lord when motherhood was tough. I learned so much from you and thank God for you!
**And to my little rascals…
It is a joy to love you and to be your momma. Even when things are tough I would never, ever, ever want it any other way. I will forever be thankful that the Lord entrusted you to me. I pray that as you grow you will see these truths lived out in my life, and that He would work all things for good in your lives.