by Lee Stewart

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I think the farther you get from a particular season, the more clearly you see it sometimes.

That’s why your grandmother is telling you to cherish each moment with your baby, even while your eye bags are huge and your shirt is covered in spit up. She’s ignoring all that because she’s just looking at YOU. She looks at you and your 30-something self, but her mind sees the baby version of you. She knows all she did was blink and you had a baby of your own.

That’s why your friend with four kids is looking at you with your one kid and saying, “You’ve got this, mama!” And she might even sound like she’s saying, “No biggie. Just wait till you have more.” But she’s not. She just wants you to know you can find your footing, even when you feel maxed out.

But sometimes we’re not just in a busy season, or in the midst of a new journey. Sometimes we’re in a season of darkness. And that was me in 2015. My outer world went on as usual in many ways, but my inner world was another story. And I guess that’s usually how it goes during these seasons. We put on our brave face for others and then go home to our rooms and fall apart.

So if you’re in the throes of some darkness right now—a place where you feel like you fall more than you stand, where you grow weary faster than you grow joyful.

If you’re overwhelmed by things that you think are not overwhelming to other people. If you’re waking up in the middle of the night and overcome with fear. If you can’t go back to sleep because your mind goes to darker places than the darkness in your room. If you deal with resentment. If your tiredness feels a lot like sadness. If you have the right information, but still you lack the clarity.

If you just can’t seem to SEE.

Tell a friend to pray for you. Risk yourself for the healing. Your friends love you more than you think.

Talk to your doctor or a counselor. If you sense there may be more going on than you can pinpoint on your own, then seek professional help. This is often a last resort for people, but it doesn’t have to be.

Read the Psalms! They will sharpen you and empathize with you at the same time.

Admit the hurt. Don’t compare your struggles to someone else’s. This season is hard for YOU. I think the longer I spend comparing hardships, the longer I take to tackle my own stuff. Comparisons may help you gain perspective. But if they keep you from moving forward, then they aren’t helping.

Admit that motherhood is hard—for everyone. My life involves a lot of sippy cups and peanut butter honey sandwiches. So simple, right? Anyone can manage that! What’s so hard about the little years? I believe one of the biggest reasons motherhood is difficult is because Satan has it in for us. Satan hates the family. Satan hates Christ. Everything you do for your little ones is a thing you do for the least of these—it’s a thing you do for Christ! There is more going on than the lunches you pack and the noses you wipe. You’re at war with some serious spiritual forces.

Hug your parents. (What? How will that help? It will.)

Remember another “you” is out there. She probably seems fine when you see her. She’s still showing up at her usual places. But she’s battling some darkness.

Don’t get mad at the messes. The more chaos exists in your inner world, the more scorn you may feel toward your outer world—namely, the messes. But don’t let the sprawled out contents of the craft jar keep you from seeing the little girl who’s creating things. What mom has a tidy house all the time? And anyway, while mom is tidying up one room, someone is probably dumping puzzle pieces out in another. It’s okay.

Do what’s in front of you. If you feel overwhelmed by your to-do list, then start with what’s in front of you at that very moment.

Talk to your husband. Hear him, too. Husbands have a way of speaking to the core of an issue.

Always say goodnight. Kiss and hug your people. Every single night.

Think about yourself less. I love to analyze myself to death, but it’s not always productive. Sometimes looking too deep within oneself is very depressing. The heart is deceitful above all things. I don’t know what all that means exactly, but it’s in the Bible so I take it plainly. My heart is not wise counsel! Every time you begin to spiral down into heavy introspection about who you are, what’s wrong with you, or what’s right with you, just stop and redirect your physical self. Reach out and pick up a child. Reach out for your husband’s hand. Fold the towels. Cut up an apple. Text a friend and see how her day is going. Just get outside of your own mind. Inevitably your thoughts are mostly accusatory if you’re going through a depressed or anxious season. God is NOT the accuser. Satan is the one who talks like that. So feel free to interrupt him whenever he starts a conversation with you!

Remember God’s love. Remember it ferociously. Hold on tight. Love means being truly interested in the well-being of another, even when it costs you something. That’s the love summed up on the cross. That’s the love poured out on you. Walk in it.

Lee Stewart

LeeStewart

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