After I dropped the older kids off at VBS this morning (THANK YOU, volunteers!), I sat in my strangely quiet living room, listening to the rain with the baby on my lap. I unpacked my heavy heart before God. I know He’s always there. I see it in His mercies, moment-by-moment, in the middle of my mess. Yet, lately, I can’t hear Him. I can’t feel Him. Though the world outside is green, freshly-watered, and alive…I feel dry. I feel dead inside. I know it’s sort of taboo to say something like that. After all, I’m alive in Christ, right?! So, shouldn’t I always feel alive?
No. I won’t…and neither will you.
When I was younger, dreaming of my someday life, I believed that parenting would be easier for me than it had been for my non-Christian parents. I believed that, though there would be hard seasons, I’d always feel alive to the core; I’d have a constant flow of living water washing over me and be able to, in all sorts of circumstances, be the Mama I’d desired to be: Patient. Graceful. Kind.
Then I had children.
Lately, I find myself having the same conversation with God over and over again: “I’m at the end of myself. I don’t know if I can do this anymore. Please, just show me what it is You see in me that made You think I was right for these children! I need a glimmer of hope, because I feel so unworthy. I feel like a lost cause, like a total screw-up in the mom department. I’m not patient enough, grace-filled enough, or kind enough. I look nothing like You to them right now and that breaks me but, no matter what I seem to do, I’m so worn down and frustrated. I have nothing left. Just tell me how to fix this!”
His answer: Silence.
He’s not always this quiet. In fact, He speaks to my heart often. It’s when He’s silent that I know to look to His Word. In my experience, the silence often means He’s already provided the answer within the pages of The Bible. I just need to do my research…and I need to trust in His plan.
As I looked back to all of the stories of those He called to serve before me, I was reminded that none of them were perfect. In fact, they often made huge and devastating mistakes. Yet, He used them. In the middle of their mess, not just on the other side of it. They, like me, were sinful and flawed. The first truth I need to apply to all these negative feelings I’m wrestling with is that I’m human. I am sinful in nature and, at times, all that is within me leans towards selfishly thinking only of my own needs or wants. Meeting the many needs of my family isn’t always going to naturally bring my heart joy. Sometimes, joy is a choice. If I choose joy often enough, eventually the attitude of my heart and the focus of my mind will change.
Secondly, I had to wake up to the easily forgotten truth that this mission of motherhood I’ve been called to is not about me. My family makes me happy, but they’re not here to make me happy. My children bring me joy, but their purpose isn’t to bring me joy. The reason they’re here, the reason we’re all here, is to bring Him glory. To love, and to be loved by Him. To reflect His kindness, beauty and grace in a world that so desperately needs more of all things Jesus. My mission is to serve Him by raising these children to love and follow Him, to the very best of my ability, even when it’s uncomfortable or inconvenient. Even when I’m in a dry and weary season.
Here’s where the trusting in His plan part comes in…
If I believe that God doesn’t make mistakes, then I have to believe that my abilities (no matter how imperfect), in combination with His grace, are enough to get the job done. Satan will attack from every angle, constantly planting seeds of self-doubt in my mind. Yet, nothing he sends my way can override the truth that, if God called me, He will equip me. I cannot trust my feelings. I can only trust His promises.
Faith is trusting. Even when I can’t feel Him. Even when I can’t hear His voice. Faith is trusting that He is who He says He is. Faith is believing that what He’s proven time and time again to be true in the light, is also true in the darkness. He promises to be with me, when I feel refreshed and alive…and when I feel dead inside. Even there, His hand will guide me.