As a new mama there have been so many opportunities for my sin to be revealed and there have been moments where I’ve experienced great discouragement. Trying to figure out what the heck I’m doing coupled with little to no sleep and hormones out of whack has left me desperate for Jesus like never before. Parenting is a great joy but it is also a great responsibility.
There are many days where my husband comes home from work eager to talk about his day and asks me, “So, what did you do today?” There is an internal struggle as I decide between responses, “Everything. . . nothing. . . ummm I kept a human being alive. . . ” Amidst the never ending piles of laundry (So. Much. Laundry.) and the sometimes never ending flow of spit up, the days have quickly dissolved into one big blur. My daughter is almost three months old, a quarter of a year, and I’m not sure how time has managed to slip by so fast.
This season, like every other, has it’s roses and thorns but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am learning to be content with where the Lord has me and be grateful for His faithfulness to continue to cause me to be more like His Son. The following five encouragements have been in my mind and on my heart as I’ve considered what wisdom I would offer a woman going through the season that I’m currently in. New mama, I hope these truths derived from Scripture encourage your heart as much as they have encouraged mine.
1. Give Yourself Grace
A few years ago there was a diapers commercial that stated, “Having a baby changes everything” and that sentiment couldn’t be more true. As a first time parent I have questioned whether or not I am doing things the “right” way (even though I’m not sure what that really is). During my daughter’s second week home, we had one particularly rough night in which I could not get my daughter to fall asleep. The combination of exhaustion and hormones lead to the spilling of hot tears as I entered our living room and told my mom, who was visiting, that I wasn’t qualified to be a parent and that there are moms younger than I am who are doing a much better job. I spent most of the first month of my daughter’s life condemning myself by thinking such thoughts that were based on my emotions rather than thinking on what is true. What is true, is that “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). I don’t need to punish myself when I fail because Jesus took the punishment I deserved when He traded my sin for His righteousness. The truth is, I fail daily but God is sovereign even in my failings.
2. Wait For the Morning
As a parent of a newborn, I’ve learned that late nights and early mornings are going to be normal in this season. Initially this was REALLY rough for me. I am the type who needs at least 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep a night in order to function well but I’ve learned how to scrape by on 3.
A few Scriptures that have encouraged me when my heart grows desperate for a lack of sleep (and brain power) are Psalm 30:5 which reminds me that joy comes in the morning and Lamentations 3:22-23 which tells me His mercies are new every morning. I’ve faced a few discouraging and extremely long nights but ultimately I am grateful for them because they humbled my heart and left me longing for fresh mercies which only He can supply.
3. Fix Your Eyes On Jesus
Running the race of the Christian life requires great endurance and I think I realized this more upon becoming a parent. Sure, my seasons of singleness and marriage had their own respective challenges but neither season had me so desperate for Jesus as this one. This doesn’t mean that motherhood is more holy or sanctifying than other roles or seasons, for me it’s simply a different type of sanctification than I’ve previously experienced. In singleness and marriage I was free of someone relying on me for their care and nourishment 24/7 and I also had the ability to sleep for at least 8 hours every night uninterrupted. I could go out wherever I wanted whenever I wanted. Motherhood is extremely hard mostly because my sin is being exposed like never before and I am having to die to myself like never before. Motherhood is also one of the biggest blessings I know because it shows me that I am weak and need Jesus in every moment. Such desperation has caused me to cling to the hope offered in Hebrews 12: 1-2 which states, “. . . let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Jesus endured for joy and by fixing my eyes on Him, I can do the same.
4. Do It For Joy
One of my goals this year is to memorize a portion of Scripture every week. Whether it’s one verse or a few, I desire to have God’s word in my mind and written on my heart. One of the verses I came across in my Bible reading plan that I decided to memorize was John 16:21, “When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish for joy that a human being has been born into the world.” The context of this verse is Jesus telling His disciples that He is departing to be with the Father but will one day return. He compares His absence to the pain women feel in labor and His return to the joy that is experienced upon the realization of new life. This was the verse I asked my husband to remind me of while I was in labor. Through contractions I squeezed my eyelids shut and crushed his hand with my grip as he gently whispered to me, “It’s for joy, lovey, you’re doing this for joy.” Labor is painful and at times motherhood is too but this beautiful metaphor reminds us to keep longing for the return of our Savior by reminding of us of the joy that caused our hearts to swell upon the births of our little ones.
5. Remember Who You Are
This has probably been the biggest challenge for me as a new mama and I think it’s generally a challenge for women in every season – remembering the roots of our identity. I have had moments of pride spring up in my heart as I’ve received compliments on how quiet my baby is or how well she (sometimes) sleeps well. During those times I’ve, in a sense, proudly worn my daughter like some kind of Badge of Excellence. In those moments I’ve failed to remember that I am a new creation and have been designed to worship God. Instead I have chosen to worship my daughter and allow my identity to be expressed based on how she behaves. I’m sure this will be a struggle in every season but I’ve learned that when I sin in this way, I put an unrealistic expectation on her and must realize that as another sinner, she will never be able to perfectly satisfy my expectations. Instead of humbly being grateful for my new identity in Christ, I’ve abused God’s grace in allowing me to be a mom and have pridefully allowed my new role to become my new identity.
Another area in which I’ve failed to be identified in Christ is body image. Instead of remembering that I am fearfully and wonderfully made and allowing my soul to know it well, I’ve beat myself up based on the number I see on the scale. Yes, my body is a temple and self control is the fruit of the Spirit, but I tend to go to the extreme and turn these truths into the law that Jesus died to save me from. It is definitely discouraging having a closet full of clothes that don’t fit but my hope is that my heart will count even that as loss for the ways that I am gaining Christ in this season (Philippians 3:8). I have learned to be disciplined in cultivating healthy habits knowing that bodily training is, indeed of some value, but ultimately, the training should create in my heart a deeper desire to train myself for Godliness. It is this training in Godliness which reminds me that, “. . . It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself up for me,” Galatians 2:20.
Motherhood is hard but God is faithful.
He will not give you a season of life without giving you the grace to endure it in a way that is honoring and glorifying to Him.
“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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
2 Corinthians 12:9-10
Press on mama.