As most mothers and fathers do, I have been learning so much about myself in parenting our daughter. I've seen my downfalls, the places in my life where only God can give me the strength to bear with myself and the people around me in love. I have noticed some reoccurring themes in my daily life...
Yesterday I had enough. I had enough of the constant need for attention, the crying, the poop, the spit up, the entertainment, and the fact that my dog peed on the floor for no reason. Netflix couldn't fix it, cuddle-time with Nora couldn't fix it, and even a nap couldn't fix it. There was just this unsettling feeling in my soul, full of impatience and selfishness. But alas, I woke up today, in the same strength as yesterday, and expected it to be different.
You see, in my excitement to be a new mother, the love that I have for Nora, and a desire to be distracted, I began to make this beautiful child the center of my days. In my relationships with others, my husband, and most importantly my relationship with Christ, I have been letting my attention to her fill my thoughts, time and emotions.
Now don't get me wrong, I fully understand the time and effort it takes to keep this child alive... there are some days when I physically can do little else other than feed and change Nora... and I think that's okay! But when I came to the end of myself yesterday, there was nowhere for me to go. For the idol that I had mistakenly made our daughter had crumbled in that moment, not living up to the cool instagram photo mommy life I wanted to have. So now what?
"Never lose sight of the fact that your walk with God is as essential for the good of your child as is your milk or the formula that you may be giving him. Children do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes out of the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4). If you lose your communion with God, you will lose not only a source of strength for the sake of parenting, but you will lose the very thing you want most to impart to this child. And you want him to know God more than you want him to live. You want him to taste and see that God will be sufficient to meet all of his needs, including his needs for his own parenting. And if you lose God while parenting, the very thing you want to give him most you have lost. So, that is how important it is for you to fight for whatever it takes to maintain a sweet, growing, satisfying walk with your God." - John Piper
I read this article, and stopped in my tracks. Have I been seeking a sweet, growing, satisfying walk with God? Or have I been going to scripture as a quick fix, or something to check off of a list of things to do that day?
Piper also gives this warning,
"Children are designed, intended by God to be submissive and to be obedient to their parents. They are not intended to dominate the house, dominate relationships, dominate when company comes over. And it is important for them to learn this early, because if they think they are the center of the world, it will be hard to break them of this destructive illusion later on. Practically, that means that the child doesn’t so rule your schedule that you don’t have time for what you need to do for your own soul. He does not need your ever-present attention. You can show him lavish attention and provide him with all the affection and touch he needs without training him that you have to respond every time he has a peep in his crib. God loves us lavishly, and as part of that love he makes sure we know we are not the center of the universe. That is what love does. Let your child become secure not in your ever-present hovering, but in the certainty that you always return in love."
Wow. That hit hard.
I think that sometimes I have this idea that if I am not giving every waking second to Nora, I am being a bad mom. However, in scripture I see that God loves us (his children) more deeply and selflessly than we can ever imagine, and does NOT make us the center. I think that He is showing me that Nora is good, but not enough. She is not enough to bring peace to my soul, and joy in my life. Only walking with Christ can do this.
I have so many friends who are new mothers or wives, and this is something that we need to be preaching to ourselves and each other. More than anything else, we need to be fighting for this soul-sustaining walk with the Lord. Our children and husbands are good, but not enough. For those who desire marriage and children, keep praying and seeking God for those things... but when and if you have them, they will still not be enough. And when they become the center of who we are, we are bound to see our image of them crash and burn because they cannot live up to it.
I think that when my husband and I lost our daughter last year, the truth of this in my heart came out. Her life was good, but if I had made it everything to me I would have been indefinitely lost and broken when she was gone. I am still heartbroken and grieving, but the Lord indeed showed me this soul-sustaining strength that lasts longer than any life, and brings joy deeper than any relationship.
How quickly this can be forgotten day to day.
So if any of you had a week like mine, I know you are beat. But there is a solution.
Let go of the need to make good things in our lives the center of who we are, and let God be all.