Friday, September 23, 2016

The Power to Make it Through the Day (Part I)

I have a few podcasts that I love listening to on morning walks. It's like listening to an older, wiser friend without having to chime in or fear mom judgement. I have plenty of favorite episodes from a few different women, but Episode 21 of Mom Struggling Well has been so applicable to my life the last few months, that I finally decided to write down the bits that really spoke to me.

In it, Kristin Lemus is talking about how God's truth applies to her motherhood:

I really struggled, for the longest time, with feeling like a bad mom... I would have days where I'd get to the end of the day, and I would just be exhausted, my kids were whiny, things didn't go right, potty training struggles, whatever it is. And I would be like, 'I am such a bad mom. I can't get it together, I can't get organized. I'm not spending time playing with my kids...' whatever the thoughts were. I kept feeling overwhelmed with motherhood. I'm thinking, 'at some point I should be able to figure this out and get on top of it.'

One day, I just hit my limit... I was talking to my husband and I was just like, 'I'm such a bad mom, I got upset with the kids today. I don't know how to overcome these feelings.' I knew in my head I wasn't supposed to feel like this, I just didn't know the way out. I just felt stuck.

...I started talking to God the way I'd been talking to my husband: 'I am such a bad mom and I don't know what to do about it. I don't know the answer!' And I just heard His voice in the moment: Who says you're a bad mom? I don't say you're a bad mom! When I created everything, I looked over all of it and declared that it was good. I designed you. I made you a mom. And I declare that you are good. Instead of confessing all those other things, like 'I am so overwhelmed,' begin to confess that 'I'm a good mom because God calls me that'... Take the bad thoughts captive and you will begin to become what you are confessing. It was a process, but it totally transformed my life and my mothering...

The interviewer asks, "So what does that look like today? What is that process?"

It's really so much about taking our thoughts captive, because the enemy wants to come in and speak to us in those moments when we are feeling all those overwhelmed feelings... It's a matter of stopping them and saying, 'No! I'm not going to choose to agree with that. I'm going to choose to agree with what God says about me.' ...You hear those negative things super quick. But the more you combat it, the faster you get at it, and the less power that it has over you. It's a matter of putting it into practice.
"What weapons are you fighting with and how did you make them accessible?"

I started to dig into God's word... Scripture about who God says I am, and about God's love... I had to read His Word more intentionally and write those things down and memorize those scriptures, so that it was in me. So when the opposite was coming toward me, I had something to fight it off with.

The other thing I've learned, is just spending time with Him in His presence, it makes such a huge difference. The Bible says that the same power that rose Christ from the dead lives inside of us! The Holy Spirit is so willing to give us the power we need to overcome these things. He wants to equip us and strengthen us, and his fruit is so good, and so sweet, and so powerful, and that's what we want to be as moms. We want to be loving, and kind, and have self control, and all of those things that are the fruit of the spirit. But the only way we get that is by spending time with Him and becoming friends with Him, and letting Him work those things in us. The more we do that, the more it is in us and comes out of us.

"So what does that look like for you on a daily basis?"

So I used to be the person who was like, 'I have to get up super early in the morning, and I have to have my quiet time now or it doesn't count.' ...I'm so not that person anymore. I feel like God has taken me through a lot of seasons. There have been some seasons where I felt like He's said, I want you up early before everyone else, and then there have been other seasons where he's like, I want you to rest and spend time with me later
But I will say this... when I was a really young mom, I had a lot of voices around me telling me, 'God has so much grace for you,' and 'Don't worry about when you get your quiet time in... just pray in the shower!' And I totally soaked that up. I'm like, 'I need all the grace I can get! I can barely breathe, I'm lucky if I get a shower...' So that was what I lived by.

But now, honestly, I'm a little frustrated by that advice. It's not that God doesn't have soooo much grace for us. He's not gonna come and whack us over the head if we don't spend time with him every day. BUT what I felt like was happening is that advice robbed me of the power that I needed to actually make it through my day! If we miss it, grace grace grace! However. If we do take that time, make that effort, make it a priority, give Him our best and our first, He meets us there and equips us. I just thing that's so powerful... I finally figured this out with my fourth kid, and I remember saying, 'I don't care how tired I am, I'm gonna spend some time right now praying and reading God's word and asking Him to speak to me, and listening.' That was such an incredible time. And it changed my mothering.

I would challenge women to make it a priority. Like I said, there's always grace. But we need this! It's like the oxygen for our day. It's so life-giving. Mothering is so tough, but there really is this power that comes from the Holy Spirit. He really does want to help us to have self-control and be loving and kind. It's a process, but giving him our priority is such a huge thing.

...Take time to speak and pray and be still and listen and read his word... He spoke the world into existence, right? He's the Creator. So when He speaks, it's creating something. When He's speaking peace into your life, He's creating peace. Whatever it is, he's actually creating that very thing in your life. It's so life-giving.


Wow. Right? I've been playing it over and over, and this is what stops me in my tracks every time:

"What I felt like was happening is that advice robbed me of the power that I needed to actually make it through my day. If we miss (quiet time)... grace grace grace! However. If we do take that time, make that effort, make it a priority, give him our best and our first, He meets us there and equips us."

That line massively convicted me. I remember being so entrenched in my morning quiet time routine early in my pregnancy with Noah. I needed it. I thrived off of it. But once we moved, I lost my footing, my routine, my safe space so to speak. I didn't feel comfortable just sitting in the middle of someone else's living room with my books and journals everywhere. I guess I should've known that when you have a baby, you have no personal space! Moving just accelerated that process a bit.

Anyway, I remember asking friends how they did quiet time with a newborn. A few told me that they read a Bible app or something while nursing, but with Noah's tongue tie, and my back pain, nursing was always a two-handed process for us. Others, of course, told me to give myself grace and speak to God throughout my day and know that eventually I would find a new routine. Well I did the first part, but I never really did the work of looking for a new routine beyond a few halfhearted streaks of naptime devotions here and there. I did lots of talking to God, but not much listening. And like Kristin says above, a lot of my talking was the 'gospel' truth of, "I'm so tired, I'm so overwhelmed, I'm so bad at this, once I get on top of my life things will be better."

Now I've reached the point where I'm potentially the most "on top" things I will ever be (ha!) and I'm feeling that God-time void. My mind is running in a million different directions, and I'm constantly choosing to "just clean up" of "just do a quick workout" or "just get some sleep" ahead of choosing to spend time with God. How will I get to know Him without spending time with him? I won't!

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