Not Easily Broken
Recently, I confessed to my husband that God showed me my inner narrative needed a shift, it was sadly infected by pity and ungratefulness, about my inability to control my agenda. There were things I wanted to get done, and not being to do them when I wanted to, with the level of concentration I wanted meant that I was frustrated. I am in that phase of life when my newborn is more in charge of my agenda than I am, and it can incite some self-pity. My reality is that when Logan wants to be held and nurse all day, I get exhausted, run out of steam for my agenda and complain in my mind.
And then the other day (09/02) I found myself breaking out into prayer, thanking God for showing me how sometimes I revel in hardship instead of rejoicing in it, how I use the language of hardship to manipulate praise out of others and myself (“you’re such an awesome mom”). I know it’s getting a bit deep and weird in here, please stay tuned.
Motherhood is incredibly difficult for various reasons, but as a mom of kids in their earliest stages of life, just as I learn how to adapt, they change on me, the evolution process is constant, awe inspiring and nerve wracking. I am here trying to be “enough” to use a mom-culture trigger word. Here’s what God to clearly showed me:
Romans 5:3 NLT “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance…strength of character … hope.”
Ephesians 2:10 “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
2 Corinthians 12:9 “But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, to that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
1 Peter 5:7 “Casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.”
What do these scriptures have to do with being a tired mom who needs a break? The hard parts of being a wife, a mother, employee are all part of the perfect work that God planned for me before the world began, He is not surprised by the muddy moments, nor do my pity-parties or exhaustion surprise Him. There is nothing wrong with needing and receiving a break as a Christian mom, but our inner narrative adds more undue stress to our minds, gives us more cares to carry around.
When my baby girl refused to stop crying at 3a.m. and I knew I would only get 2hrs of sleep, even though her belly was full, diaper was dry, and I was holding her pacing my living room, I allowed thoughts of self-pity, defeat and victimhood to unpack in my mind and heart. I found myself saying, “come on Logan, now stop this, I need to go to sleep, I am so tired.” I said, “Ugh, when will I ever sleep again. I need me time, my nights back… I just need a break.” For me a break meant time alone, a massage, a pedicure, all fine and sometimes necessary, but what a break didn’t include was time to soak in God’s presence. Even the break was about my agenda, my desire to refresh myself instead of be refreshed by my Creator and Father, who understands what it’s like to be a parent. I unloaded my expressions of tiredness onto my baby because she couldn't talk back, instead of casting those cares on Jesus the refresher of my soul and guardian of my perspective and hope.
When I got done with my pity party the Holy Spirit caused the word of God to come back to my remembrance to correct me; 2 Timothy 3:16 “all scripture is inspired by God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for CORRECTION, for INSTRUCTION, in righteousness.” So I began to take those thoughts captive in accordance with 2 Corinthians 10:5 to make them obey Christ. Because here’s the thing, YES, I was exhausted, I was frustrated my baby couldn’t tell me what she needed, and that giving her everything I had was not enough to satisfy her into rest. However, the truth is, I can do all things through Christ, including choose joy even in this, if I ask in Jesus’ name, God would strengthen me. I repented.
I began to tell myself aloud, LaShonda, this is part of your ministry as a mother, this moment is part of worship, as hard as it may seem. Christ has enabled you to endure this hardship as a good soldier (2 Timothy 2:3), without grumbling and complaining (Phil 2:14). I am weak here, I am not enough, but in this moment, God’s strength is made perfect because my weaknesses are present. God please, give me the grace to get through this moment in victory.
The problem wasn’t my admitting I was tired, that was a fact; it wasn’t that I was frustrated either, feeling frustrated, flustered and concerned is not a sin, but I allowed these seeds to bear fruit in my mind and heart. Rest is essential, God put His stamp of approval on rest when He took one Himself. Retreat is important, Jesus Himself retreated according to the four gospels. The problem is we when want to rest and retreat from even God, I know it sounds harsh but we’re not looking for a moment away so we can quietly dive into the scriptures and devote our full attention to prayer. We are looking to retreat from the heat of our responsibilities and be refreshed to the exclusion of, rather than the orchestration of God.
In topics beyond but including motherhood, we can sometimes enjoy harping on how difficult something is, how tired we are from playing superhuman, without acknowledging that even our weaknesses are about how strong God is. We look for retreat without even being anywhere near burnout, and do things that protect us from growth, instead of enduring. We are not fragile, struggle and hard moments strengthen us, like squats do leg muscles. Further, we model of those around us how to receive and experience challenges from God. Yes, He rains blessings but rain does still make mud, and we can either put on our rainboots or we can harp on and on about how unpleasant mud feels between our toes.
Every hard moment is a call to deeper faith and glory, we must not allow ungodly thoughts to unpack themselves in our minds and hearts. Instead, at our weakest, let us pray for strength, let us remember the word of God hidden in our hearts so that we don’t sin against Him. Further, let us encourage ourselves or call on someone who can encourage us, not by telling us how “enough” we are, but how ENOUGH our God is in this hard moment.
And when we get a chance to retreat, let’s be sure to infuse that moment with Him. The only true way to be refreshed is by God, even when we get some good sleep, the body is well rested but what about the spirit, the soul? Can we practice more of, “Father, it’s quiet, please speak to me and show me how I can better manage those moments of frustration. Show me how to rejoice with this rain and mud.”
The inner narrative matters to God, because it informs what happens in the heart. How can we be transformed in the process of this perfect work God has called us to, if we don’t take the inner narrative captive and make it obey Christ? After my first child was born, one night, he looked at me so deeply, and I said to him, “you can tell that I have no idea what I’m doing can’t you?” My inner narrative became self-centered, I was consumed by what I did not know, and started "no-ing" myself into a mentally hard space. I've had to learn to rejoice in what gets done, and to not mourn the undone.
Sometimes life shows us that we have no idea how to be enough, how to be challenged, how to truly lean on God, how to use His word to protect ourselves from the rabbit hole of self-pity. Always remind yourself, even when the moment seems to need more than you have to give, that God has graced you for this work, the hardship is here to perfect your character and strengthen your hope, you can do hard, tiring things through Christ, it’s not eternal, and God is perfectly able. Let your faith grow. You do not need to saturate your life with affirmations of worldly worthiness, you need to be padded and sheltered by the word of the living God, that will satisfy, sustain and transform you. Motherhood, wife-life, friendship, entrepreneurship/traditional employment, all come with unexpected moments that stretch and try us. Yet not only does God’s word bring comfort and guidance, but we can rejoice in the abundance of glory being manifested by God’s good work in and through us. Even when there are tears and tiredness involved, what God has called us to, and to go through, is the perfect work for us, the perfect cultivation of our faith, hope and joy.
Even in expressing the realities of those callings, don’t betray yourself, don’t let those thoughts spring up like weeds amidst the truth of God’s word to entangle itself. How has my narrative changed, Logan’s late nights now come with, “oh Logan, I am so sorry I am not sure what you need right now, or if this crying is exactly what you need, but mommy is the one for the job, and we’ll figure it out together.” Further, I have prioritized my refreshing by going on prayer walks, reading God’s word when I am alert daily, instead of uttering complaints to hear myself talk, I ask for exactly what I need, get my hair done and go for massages. Don’t get me wrong, I am still tired most of the time, but I want my mind to be a garden of lovely, right and strong words that guard my heart and actions. I’m not fragile. I’m not a victim of my own life. I'm not easily broken. I’m becoming sweeter fruit…
Grace & Peace,
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