When I was pregnant with my first child, everyone said how blessed I was and how full my life would be. That motherhood was the hardest thing I would ever do, yet at the same time the most rewarding. And of course, they were right. I was sleep deprived, forgetful, unshowered, starving by the end of the day because I couldn’t find time to eat (or maybe I just forgot), and my clothes were covered in spit-up. Yes, being a mom was hard, and I would tell myself this often.
Fast forward 7 years, and there I was still covered in spit-up holding my 4th and 5th babies. After two and a half weeks in the NICU, our twins were finally home. It was such a sweet day, but at the same time a terrifying day. My husband was going to have to work into the wee hours of the morning everyday for the next 2 weeks. This meant I would be left to fend for myself with two newborns and my three other kids, alone (not to mention our third child had just turned 2 the week before and was in full force ruler-of-all-the-universe mode). All I could think about was how hard it was going to be. And of course, it was.
There is no way for me to explain how different having two newborns is. I don’t think having a baby ever gets easier because there are others to take care of and we have to adjust spreading our time around, but two babies left me in a state of shock and helplessness at times. I was left with no time for my other kids while my husband was gone. If one baby was sleeping, one was awake. If one was eating, the other needed their diaper changed. If one was content, the other was crying… and that made the other cry. And then they would cry some more, and then my other kids would start crying, and I wanted to hide in the closet until all of it was over. I started telling myself that having 2 babies was just too hard. Having five kids was just too hard. Being a mom was too hard.
After 11 days went by, I had reached a point of exhaustion that I had never felt before. I literally had slept a total of six hours in 11 days- and before you think my husband just wasn’t helping, he was getting home at 3 am and helping feed and rock the baby I wasn’t helping, and then he’d go to work at 6 am. We had both reached exhaustion. On that 11th night after the bigger kids were in bed, both of the babies were so upset. They cried and cried no matter what I did. I sat in the rocking chair with one on my lap and one in my arms, trying to switch them back and forth because I couldn’t hold two newborns at the same time in my arms without someone putting one in the right position. I couldn’t walk around with them to soothe them, I couldn’t let them both know at the same time that I was there to comfort them in my arms, I was stuck.
I started crying. I started pleading with God to soothe the babies and make them stop crying. But He didn’t. I began to tell God how unfair and hard this was and I needed Him to tell me what to do. But He was silent. I told Him that I couldn’t do it anymore and that He should have taken one of the babies to heaven because this was too hard for all of us (of course I didn’t mean it, but in the moment my exhaustion had taken over). And then He spoke. “Which one should I take? You pray for me to heal them, and now because the moment doesn’t suit you, you pray for me to take them back? How about I take all of them? Daughter,what if you just stopped thinking that being a mom is hard and leaned into the stretching, instead of resisting?”
In that moment, I realized something about myself.
I realized that in my heart, I believed that being a mom was hard. I believed the words that I was told over and over by so many others. “Being a mom is the hardest thing you will ever do.” This was the voice of truth in my head. This voice left me defeated and powerless. It left me with an attitude of thinking that no matter what I did, this was going to be hard. Yet God was telling me something different. “Lean into the stretch, instead of resisting,” He said. “What if you just stopped thinking that being a mom is hard?”
Still with crying babies on my lap and in my arms, I looked at their little faces all scrunched up and red, just as frustrated as I was. But this time, instead of seeing defeat, I saw something different. Instead of seeing a hard situation, I saw victory. I saw that these little ones could not control themselves, but I could control myself. I leaned in, instead of resisting. And in my leaning, I found a solution. I was able to see past hard, and walk through the challenge.
What does that even mean? And what’s the big deal about thinking something is hard? Words are powerful (Proverbs 18:21, Matthew 15:18, Matthew 12:36). However we view something, is the outcome we will have. When we think something is hard, it becomes hard. There is no overcoming hard. I was stuck thinking that being a mom was hard for seven years. I would become frustrated easily, impatient easily, and found myself leaning on my own strength easily all because of thinking motherhood was just hard and always going to be that way, no matter what happened, no matter the season. I loved being a mom, but my fallback was believing it was hard when things weren’t easy and enjoyable.
We live in a culture that is trying to teach us if something isn’t easy, then it is hard. School isn’t easy, so it must be hard. Having a job isn’t easy, so it must be hard. Being a mom isn’t easy, so it must be hard. Basically, our culture tells us, if our flesh cannot have what it wants, then what we are doing must be hard. And when something is hard, people start laying down instead of moving forward. Hard leaves us with no option except getting past the situation, instead of walking through the situation. Hard leaves us resisting the stretch and keeps us from gaining growth. Hard leaves us believing life is unfair. Being a mom is unfair.
Is being a mom easy? No, of course not. Is any part of life easy? No. There is sin and selfishness now, that we are at battle with. Even our children think their lives are unfair and restrictive against their wants. Life has never been easy for any of us at any point of our lives. We have never been able to do what we want, when we want from the youngest of age because we are part of God’s design. A design of growing relationship and consistently walking in love. A design of stretching past what our flesh wants, to see life from the perspective of our Creator.
And that is where I found my freedom. I began rejecting the enemy’s lies and started gaining our Savior’s perspective. His perspective sees the needs of others, past the wants of the flesh. He sees that we live in a broken world, but because He has redeemed us, the Garden of Eden is at our fingertips to give to others. To give to our children when they need correcting or help.
I have searched for the word hard in the Bible, and I cannot find it pertaining to life. I have found the words: trials, challenges, tribulations, but not the word hard. Why? Because we can walk through a trial, walk through a challenge, and grow through tribulation. We can walk through anything and overcome everything with Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13). But we cannot walk through the mindset of hard because it is not the mindset of God. We can only walk around something hard, which leaves us circling it because it becomes the center of what we believe. When we stop believing that we can do all things, God has become second and the enemy’s lies have become first. We become powerless.
I had to stop carrying God in my pocket, and put Him in the center of my heart. In the center of all I believe and all I trust. I had to look at myself honestly and raw, and let go of using the word hard as my crutch to stop moving forward, to stop leaning into the stretch.
I have to do this daily.
I have to reposition Him back to the center of my life. And when I do this, although the stretching may be painful and I am still physically tired, I am so much more flexible than the day before. Each season brings a new stretching, and each season I now choose to walk through the challenges that come my way. I am not stuck hitting the same hard place over and over. I am not graceful all of the time in the midst, but I now have His authority to push myself aside, and each day becomes a different kind of easy. I choose to see Him, and in return I receive joy. There really is joy in growing against the flesh, and closer to Jesus.
Today, be honest with yourself. Do you find yourself resisting or leaning into God’s stretching? Do you hold lies as truths? I know it sounds so small to change a word, but words are what create a mindset and an attitude. I believed that being a mom was hard instead of a challenge. I believed that there was no freedom in motherhood because it was hard, instead of stretching. And in this belief, I allowed myself to take center of my life, which stole my joy. I allowed my wants to overshadow God’s will. I allowed myself to accept the world’s perspective, instead of His. Today, allow God to ask you: “What if you just stopped thinking that being a mom is hard and leaned into the stretching, instead of resisting?” How would your life be different if you had His authority to grow?
May your day be filled with finding joy in His perspective!
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)