I’ve heard people say God won’t give us more than we can handle, but I think “more” is just what He reaches for. Motherhood is one of life’s biggest assignments, but it doesn’t ask us how qualified we are. It’s the job we get without an interview, without experience, and without a resume! But we know He who called us is faithful. He will train us for all of life’s assignments, including motherhood. We have a Counselor––a teacher far wiser than experience. And all of our help comes from the Lord.
So why does motherhood seem to get harder the longer we stick with it? Instead of feeling more competent with each passing year, I feel more inadequate than ever before. When I think back on the season of squishy babies, cuddles, and night nursing, I reminisce with new eyes. That season was all about nurturing. It was so grueling at the time (yet unbelievably sweet), but now that it’s over, I finally feel “trained” for it.
Someone once told me it’s going to get harder when they get older. The sleepless nights and the physical demands slow down, but a whole new season of hard moves in. Now here I am just barely at the exit ramp. I’m entering a new season where my kids are a little more independent and my roles are shifting. This is nurturing plus PARENTING, and I’m in over my head.
It’s like I finally mastered one level and it’s time to level up. It’s also time to feel like a beginner again.
My need for wisdom grows as fast as my children do. And each child is unique, which means I am challenged differently by each one. There is also more to multi-task in this season.
I want to arrive! I want to hone my mom-skills, making it to expert level. Where is the cruise control? As soon as I exhale, someone gets the stomach bug.
Surely this isn’t what victory looks like. Isn’t the abundant life something cozy and full of sprinkles? Why doesn’t my quiet time look like the ones I see on Instagram? I want the posed version of motherhood. I don’t want the messy, candid polaroids. I’m tired of God calling me to hard things like dying to myself. And surely because of these negative feelings I have––surely this means I am not succeeding at all.
Feelings are very bossy and very wordy, but they shouldn’t be confused with reality. Use your feelings as signals, but don’t use them like name tags, defining who you are and how well you’re doing.
Sometimes those heavy feelings are like alarms going off. They’re warning me I need to change my approach to something or think outside the box. Sometimes the heavy feelings mean I’ve been forgetting to laugh and crank up the music. Other times I have to treat negative feelings like darts straight from the Enemy! If he uses our feelings to speak lies to us, we can answer those lies with God’s truth.
I’m no longer convinced that if we feel overwhelmed, it means we’re failing. In fact, it might just be the thing that marks success. Maybe it’s what reminds us we’re still following after God. With every new weight that we carry, we can hear God saying, “Here take this. This is another job for you. You made it to the next round! This will stretch you. You knew you needed me before, but now you’re going to know it even better. Your faith will be made stronger. I already know what you’re made of. I need you to see what I AM made of.”
When your arms get tired, remember God in His all-sufficiency has granted you more than you can carry alone. Your qualifications are not what matter most, because your inadequacy is often the platform for His power. He is always pulling you in and calling you upward. That’s why even the simple things you do every day sometimes feel like they weigh so much! God uses all kinds of things to bring about His purposes.
So as I look back on my nine years of parenting I sometimes ask myself why I’m not an expert yet. I’m not even close. God keeps handing me new things and pushing me past my limit. No matter how old I get, I don’t get to say, “I have finally arrived! No more room to grow!” I never get to plateau because God is working me toward an end––He wants me to know Him, to be more like Him. Do you continue to feel pulled and stretched past your limit? It’s not because you’re failing. It’s because you’re still reaching for the Goal.
“Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when He appears we shall be like him, because we shall see Him as He is.” 1 John 3:2