It seems almost every day recently I keep coming across another mom talking about how they’re in a hard season where they feel insufficient and needy and not up to the task of motherhood. I so get it.
Some seasons there’s just a little extra weight and a little extra testing. Or maybe a lot. Sometimes it might change from one day to the next. But on the days I know I need help, I know it. From the conversations I’ve had and the posts I’ve been reading, I’m not alone.
So what do we do with that? No one wants to just live in that place of feeling inadequate and like there’s no solution because you’re the one at home with your kids all day so it’s kind of on you to teach them how to obey the first time and pick up their toys and, oh yeah, not hit their sister. And what if you go days without remembering to tie in Jesus to the conversation and you feel like you can either have a clean house or not yell at your kids, but not both?
I’ve been there. A lot of days I feel like I am there. The neediness, feeling inadequate, feeling like you’re already filled to capacity and spilling over and can’t do one more thing. And I realize this isn’t just moms, this could apply to so many areas in life. But I don’t know if I’ve ever been more aware of this than when I became a mother, maybe even more so in the past three months. A growingly independent three year old, an into everything one year old, and another on the way. It’s not a, “I don’t know if I can keep these little humans alive on my own! ” type of neediness, but a, “On my own I choose to yell or be impatient or be annoyed, almost every time.” The neediness of my kids has made the neediness of my own soul so glaringly evident to me.
They need so much grace and patience. So do I. They need so much help. So do I. They need so much constant guidance and refocusing. So do I.
But the glorious thing about this that God has been gently leading my heart towards, and it’s so good I can’t help but grin, is that this hard, tear apart my day, struggle over and over again truth of seeing my own neediness is such good news. In God’s story, in the work that He’s doing in me and the world, to recognize my need of Him and to face full-on our own neediness, is exactly what He wants.
As long as I think that if I just try again tomorrow I’ll be able to be patient when the pasta is boiling over, one kid is throwing matches all over the kitchen, and the other is persistently asking where we got the canned tomatoes from, I’ll be living in defeat. As long as I just try another technique here and there (and I’m all for techniques, with the right perspective!) and try harder to not get annoyed, I’ll not have a solution when we’re into the next phase and a new struggle.
What God wants me to do do with my neediness is to agree with God about who I am and who he is, draw close to him, and pray. Agree with God that on my own I will fail, I’m not enough, and I can’t do this. Draw close to him by meditating on truth, realizing that he will not fail, he is enough, and he can do this through me as I live in submission and surrender. He has given me everything I need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). And then these truths of who I am and who he is and my neediness and inadequacy drive me to prayer.
The gospel, God’s free gift of grace in Jesus, only works when we realize we don’t have it all together. The same is true for prayer. The very thing we are allergic to — our helplessness — is what makes prayer work. It works because we are helpless. We can’t do life on our own.
Paul Miller, A Praying Life, pg. 55
I’m far from remembering and living this out every day. I still neglect to let me neediness drive me to pray. I still forget to meditate on who I am, who God is, and what my identity is in Him. But I do think as he teaches my heart these truths, I’m better equipped to respond to the moments in my day that just feel like too much. I’m learning that when I raise my voice at one of my kids, it’s an opportunity to tell them about how much we both need Jesus. I’m learning that when I have no idea how to handle a situation, to, in that moment, pray. I’m learning that God has made me new and my sin does not have to have victory over my mothering, but that God wants me to take that struggle with sin and use it as an opportunity to turn towards him and see his strength, his life, and his goodness.
I’m not trying to tie this up with a pretty bow and say, “Yep, it’s that easy!” (In fact, today felt extra hard and included tears for all of us.) But at the same time, these are the things God has said are true, and like I tell my kids, we can always trust what God says. Let’s live like it’s true, yes?
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