On the day I was married I became a stepmom to two teenaged girls and one preteen girl.
Three months into our marriage I was pregnant with our first of two daughters together.
That’s a lot of teen and hormones for a rookie mom.
I was 32 years old and by that time in my life I had put myself through law school, bought my first home, traveled on mission trips around the world, led high schoolers and women’s groups and was progressing in my career.
“How hard could this parenting thing really be?” I asked myself.
Things got hard, really hard, very quickly; and, I had known hardship in my life. My father was an alcoholic and drug user. He was mean when he was drunk and scary when high. Verbally and physically abusive; there was no peace in our home or our spirits. The first born of an eventual single mother; I worked since my freshmen year in high school. I was the first in our family to go to college and earn a degree, and in my last semester in law school I worked three jobs while commuting 200 miles a day, twice a week for class. I am a survivor, a fighter. I had been brave, I had persevered.
And still, I didn’t know what I didn’t know about motherhood.
In the first year of marriage and motherhood I was laid low; brought to my knees (sometimes prostrate) pleading with God. There were too many tears, there was discord and seemingly no relief. At times it felt as though things were falling apart. I tried harder and prayed harder. I sent out prayer requests like fireworks on the 4th of July. I had no shame. I was desperate in the way only a new wife and mother can be.
I spent years praying for a husband and a family of my own. And then, the woman who believed that God had brought her to this place, this man, and these girls for a reason, wanted to quit. I was desperate and felt like I had failed. The woman that didn’t believe in giving up, who didn’t believe anything was impossible, and that all you needed was God, was undone.
The Bible, in the book of Jonah, tells us another story of an unwelcome calling.
“The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.””
Jonah 1:1-2 NIV
Jonah didn’t want to go there. In fact, we are told in Jonah 1:3 that Jonah chose not to obey God and “ran away from the Lord”; choosing another direction and another city.
Like Jonah, I wanted another direction and another city. Have you ever felt like that; like you need another direction and another city? If we’re honest, I think as mothers we have all felt that way at some point.
Jonah’s decision to flee brought trouble upon his companions.
“The sea was getting rougher and rougher. So they asked him, “What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?” “Pick me up and throw me into the sea,” he replied, “and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.””
Jonah 1:11-12 NIV
Jonah’s instruction was initially met with reluctance; but the crew, despite their best efforts were unable to make it back to shore and so (with much fear) threw Jonah overboard
“Now the Lord provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.”
Jonah 1:17 NIV
And so there Jonah sat. He sat in belly of a big fish, in a pit that must have felt more terrifying, more miserable and desperate than going to Nineveh had seemed.
Jonah cries out to God. He calls upon God’s goodness, His faithfulness and His love. He says “You are good and right; worthy to be praised, worshipped, and followed. I was wrong but please do not forsake me.”
And God had mercy on Jonah and delivered him onto dry land; using a reluctant Jonah to bring about the repentance of more than 120,000 people.
Mommas, please don’t quit. Do not give up; it is impossible to know what hangs in the balance.
Satan hates anything God loves.
God loves you and your family.
Your home may be filled with discord, disappointment and tears. You may question why and how you ever thought you could do this “motherhood thing”. Perhaps you’re racked with shame and guilt; feeling that you have failed your children.
Satan will tempt you to give up. He will tempt you to run and to hide from your situation, and encourage you to run from your calling. Satan will try to deceive and condemn you.
If this is where you’re at, stop reading and start praying. Let your forehead hit the floor and ask your Heavenly Father, your good and loving Father, for wisdom and discernment. Ask Him to renew your mind and to lead you by His Holy Spirit. Pray that your relationships and your home be marked by peace and by grace. Pray that He would restore you; pray that He would give you eyes to see yourself the way He does and pray for a spirit of forgiveness to be upon you and those you love.
God can restore your relationships with your children.
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”
Colossians 3:13-14 NIV
God can restore peace to your home.
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”
1 Peter 4:8 NIV
God can restore you.
“Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”
Psalm 51:12 NIV
It is okay for it to be difficult, to feel challenged and ill-equipped. God is doing a good work in you and you have no idea what may hang in the balance.
(Me and my youngest of three stepdaughters.)