March 13, 2023
Recently the realization came to me that I have not posted on motherhood since around Thanksgiving! My heart wants to encourage other moms and share lessons of faith that God has been teaching me, especially regarding children. I apologize ahead of time for any choppiness and lengthiness, but the message in this blog post is incredibly important. I pray that it will minister to someone’s heart!
Now before you click away from this page thinking, “Ashley, that’s nice for you, but I do not have any children,” would you take a few minutes to read this post? Yes, this post is written to encourage the weary-hearted mama, but most importantly this post is about God and His sufficiency to help us through any difficult task in life. God can help you wherever you are at, and even if motherhood is not a part of your current life, I think you can find some encouragement in this post.
A few years ago I read a popular book by a well-known author about the mind-numbing exhaustion and discouragement mothers can feel at times. I remember feeling discouraged after reading that book rather than encouraged. From what I could gather, the main thrust of the book seemed to be something along these lines, “Reach out to others and they will reach out to you. Find an older woman who can minister to you and give you a break.” The main point of emphasis seemed to be finding a way to escape caring for the children instead of facing the realities of motherhood and developing the character that I so desperately need as a mother.
Perhaps I misunderstood the book and did not give it a fair evaluation. Yes, there is much truth in reaching out to others beyond our homes and the reciprocal blessings, and ideally every young mother should have an older woman to look up to and rely on in times of discouragement and crisis. But what bothered me about this book is that it did not dig deep and deal with the true problems we face as mothers—the problems in our own selfish hearts. And what made me the most sad was that this book did not present God and His faithfulness as the ultimate solution for the trials of motherhood.
My mind thought of faithful missionary women around the world who have no one to help them care for their children. Are they doomed to depression because they can’t “get a break”? What about mothers who live far away from family? What about mothers who simply do not have anyone available to help with the children?
Instead of running from our responsibilities in motherhood, we need to run to God. God can help us in our moments of desperation. God can strengthen us. God has a clear plan for motherhood in His Word, and we can confidently follow His plans.
I believe that true, abiding encouragement for motherhood comes not from getting a break but from humble dependence upon God. God’s presence in our lives is what strengthens us to be present for our children and engaged in our children’s lives.
Lest I confuse anyone, I do believe in taking a break as a mother. Every mother needs a break at some point even if it's just politely sending her children to the room next door and taking a breather in her own room.
Yet I am finding that more than I need a break from my kids, I need God to work in my heart and shape and change me. Motherhood is God’s refining process in my life, and I need to remain patiently in the fire so that God can purge the dross out of my life.
Something I am slowly learning is that God is NOT most interested in changing my circumstances to my liking, but He is most interested in changing me to His liking! So often I want the circumstances in my life to match my desires, but God is most interested in shaping my desires into conformity with His will for my life.
So how can I have the right attitude towards my children when I am downright exhausted and perhaps even discouraged or depressed? God has been impressing two main ideas in my mind and heart lately, and I would like to share those with you right now.
First, God’s faithfulness and presence in my life enables me to faithfully care for and love my children.
Because God is faithful, I can be faithful in my mothering! God’s faithfulness is the source of my faithfulness in my motherhood. If you know the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, God is always present with you, too, my friend! Let me share some favorite verses that God has been using in my life in the past few months.
Ps. 138:3 In the day when I cried thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul.
Do you need strength in your soul, the very innermost part of your being? I do. There are times when I am weary in my soul, not even necessarily my body or mind, but the very deepest part of me inside needs strength. That strength comes when I cry out to God, and He promises to strengthen me on the inside, where I need it the most!
Psalm 119:151 Thou art near, O LORD; and all thy commandments are truth.
Hebrews 13:5 I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
How many times this verse has quieted and comforted my soul I do not know. This verse gives me assurance of my eternal salvation. This verse gives me confidence of God’s abiding presence. This verse comforts me when I am weak and weary and have nothing left to give the day. God, in all of His mighty power, will never leave me, and I can draw upon that mighty power to accomplish whatever His will is for my life.
Second, I can have the right attitude about my children by remembering to be thankful for them.
God has been digging deep into the soil of my heart, turning over ever clod of ingratitude and breaking up the fallow ground of my heart until I am broken and usable for Him. Until I am thankful, God cannot use me. Until I am thankful, I will have no joy. Until I am thankful, I will not enjoy my children.
Dear friend, I do not know where you are in life. You may be like one of my older friends, past the season of childrearing and looking back with joy and at times sorrow. You may be like one of my sweet, surrendered single friends walking with God closely as you allow Him to fill the longings of your heart. You may be a frazzled mama wondering how you are literally going to make it to the end of the day.
The thought dawned on me last week that children are a reward from God (Psalm 127:3), certainly an undeserved reward. But they in and of themselves are one of God’s most special blessings in my life, so why am I so quick to want a break from some of the greatest blessings in my life? Instead of longing for more breaks from my children, God is teaching me to enjoy my children and deeply savor the precious moments that I have with them.
Friend, if you stuck around until the end of this post, blessings upon you. Whether or not you are a mother is not the most important part of this blog post. No matter your stage in life, I hope you walk away from this post with two important truths in your mind and heart: (1) God is faithful! and (2) Have deep, abiding gratitude for all the blessings in your life. If you rely on God and His faithfulness and humbly thank Him for the blessings in your life, your heart will be refreshed and your strength will be renewed. The joy of the Lord will carry you through each moment!