Motherhood can be painful. I often look at my children and feel crushed by the weight of responsibility to raise them with the obstacles we face. Living with Lyme disease makes motherhood physically painful, and having passed Lyme onto my four children is emotionally painful. Our circumstances often feel overwhelming and impossible to overcome.
I have the desire to bring up godly, well-balanced children, yet I often feel as though I never get beyond simply keeping bellies full, preventing World War III from breaking out in our home, and getting through the day—all while carrying a thousand-pound backpack filled with fears, doubts, grief, and weariness.
Oh, how different life is from the naïve picture that I had formed in my head before the realities of motherhood began. Don’t get me wrong, I am so thankful to be a mother. It is a precious gift and privilege that I do not deserve. However, it is also a journey that has been far from what I imagined.
Mom’s Internal Struggle
These last ten years of motherhood have been mixed with joy and pain, sweetness and sorrow, growth and loss. God has been faithful to carry us through many dark days, but the internal struggle often remains within me.
I’m failing to be the mom that my kids need.
Will they always carry the baggage of the pain they have faced?
The burdensome trials in front of me are too much to bear.
If only I had done more.
Each mother carries her own unique fears, anxieties, and struggles, but we all desire to be the mom that our children need, don’t we? These burdens and fears will either consume us and create perpetual anxiety within us or, by God’s grace, they will lead us to the One who is not only in control, but knows exactly what our children need—and loves them more than we ever could.
What Children Need Most
If you are feeling overwhelmed, inadequate, afraid, or discouraged as a mom, would you join me in laying our burdens down before Christ, reminding ourselves of the God we serve, and viewing our role as a mother through the lens of what He says?
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names. Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure (Ps. 147:3–5).
What do our children need in us as mothers? A mother with no baggage? A mother who guards them from harm and protects their path? A mother who does daily devotions as a family and faithfully brings them to church? A mother who provides opportunities for their growth and development?
Yes, these things are good, but they are not ultimately what our children need most from us. Before all else, our children need these three traits in their mom:
1. A mom who loves Jesus more than a mom who “does everything right.”
We will fail our children. Whether we overreact, overprotect, waste our time, pass on a bad habit, discipline in anger, or neglect to discipline, we will make mistakes, and sin will be intermingled with even our best efforts.
Trying to be the perfect mother for our children will always leave us discouraged, guilt-ridden, and weary. Our children need us to stop fixating on our successes and failures and start fixing our gaze on Christ.
We do this by shaping our lives with His Word and making focused time with Him a priority. Though this will look different in different seasons, we want to make time to bring our weary and striving selves to the truth of His Word and allow the Spirit to fill us with more of Jesus.
As we take our eyes off of ourselves and fix them on Him, our kids will be exposed to something far greater and impactful than a mom striving for something unattainable. We will still fail, yes, but as we seek to know Christ in tangible rhythms of life, we will grow to love Him more—and that love will naturally overflow into the lives of the precious children who are watching us ever so closely.
2. A mom who humbles herself under God’s loving plan, even when it’s not her own.
My experience as a mother has been nothing as I expected it would be. So much of what I envisioned has been shattered by special needs, a family with chronic illness, a life-altering neurological disorder, doctor’s appointments, physical limitations, and financial loss.
Honestly, I have resisted humbling myself and accepting this as God’s plan for me on numerous occasions. During those times, I have found myself quick to anger, irritation, self-pity, and loneliness, because I’m fixated on what I wish life would be rather than humbling myself under God’s good plan for me and my children.
However, as I have grown in His grace through these hard years, I have learned that humbling myself under God’s plan does not mean that I will always walk around with a smile on my face despite the heartache deep within me. It does mean, however, that by faith I choose to bring my heartache, disappointment, fear, sorrow, and weariness to Jesus, asking Him to help me trust His goodness and purposes in my circumstances.
3. A mom who trusts that God is bigger than our baggage, failures, and circumstances.
It’s easy to look at the circumstances that you or your children are facing and feel defeated and overwhelmed. Whether it’s a devastating illness, an inherited sin or habit, a child’s insecurities, a traumatic event, or a rebellious child, we will all be faced with circumstances that are far beyond what we can handle in ourselves.
However, the blessing of facing these circumstances is that they provide an opportunity for us to let go of our need for control and desire to earn God’s acceptance and instead trust that God is greater than the most hopeless circumstance and rebellious heart. Life’s trials can become turning points that take us from being moms who strive for control and perfection to moms who confidently and freely trust in God’s control, promises, forgiveness, goodness, faithfulness, and redemption.
What a powerful witness it is to our children when they see peace and joy flowing from their mom amidst challenging circumstances and their own rebellious hearts. And what greater gift can we give our children than to give them a glimpse of a trustworthy Savior who is greater than our sin and greater than our trials?
In His Strength
Sister, if you find yourself facing circumstances that are more than you can handle, or you feel inadequate to be the mom you desire to be, remember that the Lord’s “delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor his pleasure in the legs of a man, but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love” (Ps. 147:10–11). As we learn to trust Christ rather than our own wisdom and strength, and as we learn to fear God rather than our own failures or trials, He will guide, equip, and strengthen us to be the mother He desires us to be.
A version of this post originally appeared at DesiringGod.org.