Did you know that motherhood is supposed to be joyful?
I know that this is not a popular perspective. There are so many embittered souls who are willing to share one horror story after another, or who say, “Just wait until…”
He makes the barren woman abide in the house
As a joyful mother of children.
Praise the LORD!
Just as with everything else in life, we as mothers must make a choice; will we allow the negatives of motherhood cloud our experience, or will we take parenting as an opportunity to grow in faith and grace and begin to “accentuate the positive” while attempting to remedy the negative?
It’s easy to be a bright-eyed, first-time parent and confidently proclaim loudly that you will never be tired, or cranky, or discouraged. But when the children start coming, and the days are longer than your energy and there is more month than money, you begin to see things through different eyes.
This world is not a paradise, and children are not angels. They are born lovely, with a natural connection with heaven. They are also born selfish and stubborn and smelly and messy.
Without meaning to, we can become like accident statistics; just a pile of women who were defeated by the hardships of life, or we can become aware of the enemy’s attempts to steal our joy and begin to fight to regain it!
Here are five of the ways the devil attempts to steal our joy, and ways we can fight him and win it back :
1. By fear and worry.
Now, a parent who is not concerned about his/her children is not worthy to be called human! A certain amount of care and worry is not only warranted, but required. This is why I nag my children to brush their teeth and do their schoolwork.
However, there is also a care that is based in fear which comes from a lack of understanding of who God is. If God is in heaven ready to bring the hammer down at any time, then we must cringe in fear and try and keep evil things from happening as much as possible.
This type of fear and worry make the sweetest person crotchety and mean. Patience flies out the door and anger wells up into balls of fiery condemnation under such taskmasters.
How to overcome: Through faith!
If we serve the God of the Bible who tells us to rest securely in His secret hiding place, to believe that He cares for us more than He cares for sparrows or flowers, and Who has sent His Son to die (For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. John 3:17), then there is no reason for us to fret and fume over the trifles of life.
It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep.
How to do this? By believing and actively rolling all of our care on to Him:
Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
1 Peter 5:7
This is something I practice on a regular basis. Whenever I feel some anxiety coming up over any issue, I visualize rolling the weight of it off of myself and onto God, and I feel the relief instantly.
2. By comparison with other people’s homes, husbands, children, incomes…
Whether inside or outside of Hollywood, we can all fall into the trap of thinking that others have it easier or do things better or are more “normal” or holy than we are. This can cause us to put demands on our family members (even ourselves and God), demands for more finances, demands for different behaviors, demands for a different place to live, etc.
How to overcome:
But godliness with contentment is great gain.
1 Timothy 6:6
Life is not like a television show; there are no cookie-cut scripts.
For instance, our family does not live a 9-5, Monday through Friday schedule. Often we are having our family “down time” in the morning and homeschooling in the evening. For years we lived in small rental houses that were not in the best parts of town (because we were so poor we could barely pay attention) and at one time there were nine of us in less than 1000 square feet! My first child did not learn to read as soon as “other” children, and so I had to learn to accept and love and understand her just as God had created her, no matter how it made me look to prying relatives and the occasional snoopy neighbor.
It was important that I learned to thrive in each situation by seeing that God had made our family, our circumstances, and each person unique. Expecting our situation to line up with some perception of perfection was not only silly, it was destructive to my peace and the well-being of those I loved.
Jesus said to him, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!”
3. Through whining.
No, not the plaintive complaints of small children, but the incessant murmurings of us, their mothers!
Of course mothering is hard work, but work is WONDERFUL! Just ask any retiree who must sit for hours at a time with nothing to do. Being occupied with the care and nurture of young people is the most invigorating, meaningful vocation in all of the world. If you have the privilege of devoting your entire day to this marvelous task, don’t spend the balance of your time complaining and moaning about your plight, which causes you to become a royal pain and a drag to any conversation, not to mention what it does to your own mental attitude and spiritual health.
Do everything without grumbling or arguing,
How to overcome:
By thankfulness and positive declarations.
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:18
Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.
This takes a bit of overcoming the “flesh.” It doesn’t seem natural when you feel rotten or discouraged to belt out a “Thank You, Lord!” without sounding a bit sarcastic, but if you are miserable enough, or if your desire to please God is greater than your desire to live in the muck and mire of your own mind and emotions, then you will try it. Know this; your spirit, the part of you that is eternal, is not tied to the emotions of your physical body.
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
2 Corinthians 5:17
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.
Here is a truth: what you speak with your mouth will affect how you think and believe. If you allow your tongue to run wild, it will fall into its natural groove of negativity, but if you begin to purposely harness your tongue, you can speak things that your ears will hear that will do a job on your thinking, and then your emotions will follow suit! If you persist in declaring thankful, positive things such as, “I love my job as mom! My children are such sweet treasures! I am so thankful for every situation today because I know God is working everything together for my good!” then you will eventually begin to feel thankful, joyful, and happy with your life!
Don’t believe me? Try it just for one week and see–what can you lose except for a bit of misery?
4. By an overcomplicated life.
There are so many choices, but so little time! This is the bane of our modern existence, isn’t it? With the advent of the Internet, even someone buried under the snow in Alaska has a million things to participate in each day, with real people in “real time”.
If we aren’t being immersed in chat after chat, then there is always the temptation to have a “Pinterest” life; you know, the perfect specialty dinners served on bone china with monogrammed napkins and cupcakes done up with garnished frosting. Or perhaps perfectly designed homes with all of the touches that show we care about artful living. It’s sort of the Martha Stewart syndrome all done up with links and graphics.
Then there are the demands of community; a church service a week is never enough; there are Bible studies and prayer meetings and then the fundraisers, not to mention soccer and softball practice, a community garage sale, and on and on and on…
Now, all of these things can be wonderful and can give us abundance of relationships and memories, but only if done in moderation. Living on the fly, rarely allowing our feet to touch the runway, will keep us from the most important things, it will drain our energy, our health and our piggy banks and eventually tear down the intimacy of our families.
All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify.
1 Corinthians 10:23
How to overcome:
By simplifying and focusing on what is most important.
If you must chat and spend time online, make it a “reward” for times when you have caught up on your housework and your “in real life” relationships. Use a timer and allow yourself 15 minutes to keep from going off on wild rabbit trails that keep you from paying attention to the most important things, such as kissing boo-boos, reading stories and cooking dinner and folding laundry!
Also, trying to make everything “special” and perfect will only make everything seem boring and overdone. Having simple meals that are filling and delicious as everyday fair with exceptional meals with flair and other treats reserved for special occasions and weekends will make your life easier and make sure that you aren’t rearing children who are so satiated that they can’t enjoy or appreciate anything.
Next, take a look at all of the activities you participate in and pair them down to one or two that really add value to you and your family, and politely bow out of all of the others. Instead of being stretched so thin you are no good to anyone, you will find that the people and groups you do focus on will appreciate you more! (in some seasons of life this may mean that we are simply mommies at home–treasure these times, for they are fleeting!)
5. By guilt.
If there was ever a sure-fire bait to entice women to put the hook into their mouths, it would have to be angst and guilt.
Oh how we love to do post-mortems on every word and action; we waste so much time going over what we have said or done that we rarely have time to think of how we can overcome, or allow our minds to rest so that God can speak to us!
Here is a truth; going over and over what we may have done wrong is not about repentance, it is about self-centered pride. No, none of us was ever perfect except for Jesus, and even He said that only God was good!
For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.
How to overcome:
Remember this very, very essential truth:
Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.
1 Peter 4:8
As your love covers those who sin against you, God’s love covers you!
If you make a mistake, ask God’s forgiveness, then apologize for it, try to make it right, and get over it and get on with your life!
Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
The devil wants to keep you in bondage to your sins and mistakes, but God wants to see you set free so that you can go on to fulfill His will for you in Christ!
It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
This includes those times when you lose your temper, spend too much time on the phone or computer, put off doing the dishes, etc. How marvelous to realize that God is not standing there with a pen and a clipboard making check marks after each offense; He has actually sent us the Holy Spirit to help us obey Him!
“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.
John 14: 16-17
Yes, it is possible to be a busy, hard-working mamma and still have joy in abundance! Did you know that your joy and enthusiasm can overtake your whole body and rid you of many of your aches and pains while restoring your energy? Just think of the mom you can be to your children, not to mention the wife you can be to your husband!
The devil wants to keep us in bondage, but Christ wants to set us free–praise His name!
If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.