I was afraid to become a mother. I didn’t want to be a bad mom, not just because I was afraid to fail or something like that – I was afraid of myself. I was angry and cynical. I had a bad temper and a short fuse. I struggled with anxiety and insomnia, worrying to the point of nausea and panic attacks.
So before we had kids, I made a list of traits and values I wanted to pass on to our kids and those I wanted to leave behind. I’d processed through a lot of my anger and guilt with the help of two different therapists. Yet when I had our son, I found it wasn’t enough. As he grew out of the baby stage and into toddlerhood, I found it more difficult to be a good mom. He was willful and disobedient at times. And I couldn’t make him do what I wanted. The old familiar shame and guilt crept in every time I lost my temper. I felt like I was failing, like those traits and values from my pre-motherhood list that I wanted to leave behind were catching up to me and affecting my relationship with our son.
I couldn’t will myself to be a better person, no matter how hard I tried or how much I wanted it.
Everything in me wanted to be a good mom. I just didn’t have the temperament or the skills. God was gracious to me in showing me my weakness. Holy Spirit convicted me of my shortcomings and spurred me on to not only learning how to be a better mom, but to draw closer to Jesus in order to become more like Him.
God turned this anxious and angry woman into a mother. It wasn’t just learning tools to be a better parent, He made me a new person. Slowly His Spirit has been remodeling my heart, transforming me and giving me the heart of a mother.
This past week two mom’s trusted me to mother their kids so they could be camp counselors for other girls. It’s a job I would have been terrified of a few years ago and wouldn’t have even considered. Because I knew myself well enough to know that I didn’t have the patience, the steady temperament, or the skills to handle the stress when it came. And stress is guaranteed when caring for three young children.
When I felt the frustration building and my propensity for being overwhelmed started knocking at the door, I could take a deep breath and pause to consider the tools I carried and what might be right for the situation. And when something didn’t work, I could breathe again and go a different way. I have a peace during times of stress I didn’t have before. I don’t always react the way I wish I would, but I can feel there is a pause before reacting that gives me an extra moment to choose the better way. Where I was once easily overwhelmed and frustrated, I felt clarity of mind. Circumstances that at one time would have sent me running sparked compassion and drew me in closer.
God gave me a word recently that my hands were created for nurturing and encouragement. The hands of a woman who was once discouraged and critical, He has reshaped, reformed, and given a new purpose for building His kingdom.
God uses our weaknesses to showcase His strength. He places us in situations where He knows we will fail in the strength of our flesh so we can learn to trust in His divine strength. I saw many people last week, who were exhausted from lack of sleep, still pouring out into the campers. They gave everything they had in their own strength to serve God’s precious children. And God honored their sacrifice by pouring His own power into their hands, feet, and bodies so they could continue to serve.
Our God is amazing! There is no one too far away, no one beyond the reach of the redemption accomplished on the cross (See: A Letter to the Lost). He can transform any heart, giving it new purpose. He will take the weakness we offer at the altar and make it into strength to succeed at doing His good works in the world.
Where human strength falls short, God shows up and provides.
He is there when we’re too tired, when we’re discouraged, when we’re on the brink of failure. He wants us to live in our places of weakness, to serve in our places of weakness so His strength will be a testimony not only for us but for those around us.
Do I still struggle? Of course I do! It’s my weakness. And it keeps me running back to God for strength.
Don’t let “I’m not good at that” or “I could never do that” stop you.
His power is made perfect in weakness.