As I watch my daughters care for their children, I am freshly amazed by the demands of motherhood. Mothers must daily sacrifice their own comforts and pleasures in order to devote themselves to menial, repetitive, and (appearances might say), futile tasks.
So we should not be surprised that our mommy-emotions are so easily depleted, as if someone pulled the plug on our happiness and all we hear is the gurgling noise as the last of it goes down the drain.
Christopher Ash once said that “it is not suffering that destroys a person but suffering without a purpose.” The same can be said about motherhood: It is not motherhood that destroys your happiness but motherhood without a purpose.
You know what it’s like. When you have a clear sense of purpose, when you believe that God has called you to a task, that it glorifies him, that he is at work, then you have the stamina to endure hardship, the strength to overcome obstacles, joy and peace even when the going gets tough.
But if we’ve become resentful of the demands of motherhood, discouraged and depressed in our routine, irritated and impatient with our children, chances are, we’ve lost sight of our God-given purpose as a mother.
Few things are easier to forget than a biblical conviction of the importance of motherhood. All it takes is a prick of doubt: What’s the point of all this? Why don’t I feel fulfilled? Why work so hard to train my children if I don’t seem to make any progress? What’s the use of repenting if I’m only going to sin again? Is it fake to put on a happy face when I feel so miserable inside?
So many of these questions flow out of the selfish cesspool of our culture, which tries to measure success in motherhood by personal fulfillment. We must be wise and alert to the unbiblical thinking that breeds unhappy questions such as these.
When we allow these questions to fester, without applying truth from God’s Word, we will inevitably lose the joy, contentment, and strength that flow from a firm biblical conviction of the significance of our mothering task.
For me, when I was struggling with my emotions as a mother, it was often because I had lost sight of my purpose. That is why, in the early years of mothering, I read every good, biblical book on mothering that I could get my hands on. I needed constant infusions of truth in order to survive emotionally.
“We are naturally prone to keep slipping into not knowing what we know,” adds Christopher Ash, which is why we must constantly, daily, hourly remind ourselves of what we do know to be true about motherhood.
We know that children are a blessing and a heritage from the Lord, an undeserved gift from God to increase our delight in him (Ps. 127:3).
We know that God has called mothers to train up their children in the way they should go, to discipline and instruct them, to love them tenderly (Prov. 22:6, Eph. 6:4, Tit. 2:4).
We know that those who sow in tears will reap with joy, that those who are faithful to do good will see God act on their behalf, that those who water and tend will see fruit that God gives (Ps. 126:5, Ps. 37:3).
We know that whatever we do for the least of these, we do for him. Motherhood is for him. Motherhood has dignity and glory because of the dignity and glory of the One for whom we mother. When we care for our children, we do it for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ (Matt 10:43).
These are the truths we must not slip into not knowing. When we remind ourselves every day, in every way we can, of God’s purpose for our mothering, we’ll find the empty tub of our mothering emotions filling up and overflowing with joy.
What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow. ~Martin Luther
My kids are shocked (as they are every year) to find Christmas stuff out in the stores in September. But this year Christmas will come a little early to the Whitacre home too, because yesterday was the release of the new Sovereign Grace Christmas Album: Prepare Him Room: Celebrating the Birth of Jesus in Song.
The reality of the incarnation, the Son of God taking on our flesh and bones to save us, will be an eternal source of wonder, gratefulness, and joy. These fourteen songs are an attempt to capture that mystery in song.
This album is unique in that it accompanies a family devotional and classroom curriculum written by Marty Machowski which are designed to build gospel hope and enduring theological depth into your celebration of Christmas. You can find more information on those here:
“Jesus went without comfort so that you might have it. He postponed joy so that you might share in it. He willingly chose isolation so that you might never be alone in your hurt and sorrow. He had no real fellowship so that fellowship might be yours, this moment. This alone is enough cause for great gratitude!” ~Joni Eareckson Tada
Y’all are coming up huge with your comments for our book on emotions. Thank you!
We’re learning (no surprise!) that many of you struggle with your feelings as a mother. We just finished a series on helping our children with their emotions, but what about our emotions?
Children bring out love, tenderness, joy, impatience, fear, anger, frustration, despair, and guilt like no one else in our lives. Not to mention that we do this job in isolation, with fluctuating hormones, and sleep deprived. Motherhood is an emotional pressure cooker.
Here’s how you describe it:
“Something about the sound of my baby’s shouting causes such an irritability to rise up in me.”
“Emotions plague me, and as a result, my household. My poor parents had no clue, leaving me with no clue. So here I am, feeling like I am setting up my kids for failure.”
“I feel so guilty, and fear that my relationship with my seventeen year old son will be damaged beyond repair because I lack self-control and lose my temper.”
“I longed for my child to regain his composure and have some self-control while I was losing my own.”
“Sometimes I’m feeling overly emotional and one toddler tantrum throws me over the edge. I usually reserve the cry-sesh for when the babies are napping but is it wrong to feel so much better after releasing that pent up emotion?”
We should have it all together by now! But instead our emotions are more confusing and overwhelming than ever. We can’t handle our own feelings much less teach our children. We never had godly role models to show us the way.
How do we get a grip on our mommy emotions? Can we learn how to handle stressful moments with peace and poise? Is it possible to be free from guilt? Can we understand and even overcome our powerful emotions?
Scripture’s solutions are in plain view, if we know where to look. So let’s take a look together, shall we?
God did not curse us with emotions to make motherhood more difficult and confusing. He gifted us with emotions so that we could experience motherhood to the fullest, be a blessing to our family, and most of all, enjoy and delight in Him.
By the grace of God, our emotions can enrich our lives instead of darken them:
~We can find the “way of escape” when all we want to do is scream.
~Instead of lashing out, we can learn how to respond with kindness and grace.
~We can have peace, even in the chaotic hour before dinner or during the tense, late-night sessions with our teenager.
Motherhood, to borrow the words of JI Packer, will never be “a joyride” but when we learn to biblically handle our emotions, it “will become increasingly a joy road.”
Sunday morning it was raining buckets and I woke up late because one of my children kept me up during the night.
As I reheated my coffee—which had already brewed, stayed warm, and shut off before I woke up—I stared at my kitchen counters which were covered with grocery bags full of non-perishables I had yet to put away from last night’s grocery run.
After a swig or two of Sumatra, I managed to find a pair of not-too wrinkled pants for my oldest son that he had prematurely thrown in the laundry hamper, and miraculously dug up four hair bands from the bottom of the pretties box because my girls wanted matching pig-tails (they are sisters, after all).
Of course, I couldn’t find anything for me to wear. And did I mention it was raining buckets?
I raced around, getting everyone ready for church, and the mess seemed to grow around me: cereal bowls unwashed, clothes on the floor, barrettes spilled everywhere. I knew it would take all afternoon to straighten up.
The thought passed through my head that what I really need, more than anything right now, is a quiet morning at home.
But on its heels came another, truer thought: No, what I really need, more than anything right now, is to hear preaching from God’s Word.
This, this is what I really need, more than anything.
“Yes, I hear the sermon; but who is speaking? The minister? No indeed! You do not hear the minister. True, the voice is his; but my God is speaking the Word which he preaches or speaks. Therefore, I should honor the Word of God that I may become a good pupil of the Word.” ~Martin Luther
I need to hear God speak to me.
And this conviction changes everything. For when I believe that God is speaking to me, each and every Sunday, through His Word, delivered by my pastor, then there is no moment of the week I look forward to more.
My pastor’s sermon is no longer an inconvenient interruption to my self-focused and hectic life; it is not one of a smorgasbord of equally good options whereby I can receive God’s Word; it is not boring or irrelevant or, at best mildly entertaining.
No, for one hour or so each week we gather to hear God speak to us through his Word. There is nothing we need more, nothing we should anticipate more.
God is speaking!
How quickly I lose sight of the wonder of this truth.
But my eagerness to hear God’s Word preached on Sunday is a measure of my hunger for God’s Word. If I am passionate about the Bible, I will be passionate about hearing God’s Word preached. If I am a “good pupil” of the Word then I will want to sit under gospel-centered, biblically faithful preaching more than I want to get some rest, clean my house, go shopping.
In other words, I can’t be passionate about the Word of God and indifferent to the preaching of God’s Word at the same time.
To love God’s Word is to love to hear God’s Word preached.