Early in our marriage, my husband would frequently say that without children (not including the 20 6-year olds I was currently teaching), I was like an ‘untapped resource’…there was so much within in me that I could offer to our children. After all, he claims one of the reasons he married me was because he knew I would be a wonderful mother.
Seven years and two amazing and energetic boys later, I joke with him that this resource is now completely tapped out. And although he is my biggest cheerleader and would never say such I thing, I sometimes wonder if he agrees…especially when he sees me lose my patience with our boys, talk in too harsh a tone, and whine about the constant battles after our little blessings are in bed.
The thing is…I thought I would be better at mothering than I am, or at least feel better at it. This was supposed to be my time to shine. From the time that I was a little girl, I have always wanted, more than anything, to be a mother.
Instead, most days I feel completely inadequate and unprepared for the greatest ‘job’ of my life.
Perhaps I had too high of expectations for myself…I was blessed to be raised by an extraordinary mother (of five children, mind you) and I rarely remember her being stressed or exasperated with us. My mom is an amazing example of selfless love.
I came across a quote recently that completely captivated the inward struggle that has characterized the last four years of my life as a mom:
“I thought parenting was going to portray my strengths, never realizing that God had ordained it to reveal my weaknesses.” -Dave Harvey
Becoming a mother has forced me to look into a very clear mirror…and see an honest reflection of the state of my heart. And what I’ve seen hasn’t been pretty…by any stretch of the imagination.
I see selfishness.
Being responsible for the lives of two precious babies has made me see how selfish I can be…with my time, my energy, and my Dr. Pepper! In addition to meeting the needs and desires of my husband and children, I also genuinely want to be thoughtful of others. An entire day might pass before I get over myself and think of what I can do to show love to someone else, including those in my own household!
I see self-centeredness.
Did you notice above how I thought motherhood would be my time to shine? Yes, God has been teaching me a thing or two about self-centeredness. As it turns out, the world really doesn’t revolve around me. Perhaps I should have taken that Astronomy class in college, after all! Nevertheless, this lesson was learned in the middle of the night with a screaming baby in my arms and every day since.
I see pride.
I realize now how extremely prideful I have been in the past. This is probably the single greatest work that God has done on my heart since becoming a mother, although He certainly isn’t finished with me yet. God has used my feelings of inadequacy to humble me and make me realize how dependent I am on Him to meet my every need.
If motherhood has taught me anything, it has taught me that I can’t do it on my own. I am too weak. I am too selfish. I am too prideful. But I think God is using those feelings of inadequacy to draw me back to Him. I love this quote from the book Give Them Grace:
“It is a kindness when (God) strips us of self-reliance, because it is there, in our emptiness and brokenness, that we experience the privilege of his sustaining grace. It is only when we arrive at the dreaded place of weakness that we discover the surpassing power of Christ.” (p. 152)
Yes, I might feel “tapped out” in this season of life. But my feelings of exhaustion and inadequacy serve as a constant reminder of the well that never runs dry, the One that I will cling to until my last breath:
“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” -John 4:13-14
Drink up, fellow mothers. We are assured this resource will never be ‘tapped out’.
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*The picture at the top of the post was taken by my amazing dad at Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.