I have been thinking a lot lately about the joys and struggles of being a mother. Believe it or not it has nothing to do with Mother's Day! It has everything to do with being a tired mom myself. I have had many recent conversations with other weary moms. It's not always that we are tired from the laundry, the cleaning, the driving the kids everywhere, or other necessary tasks of motherhood. More often than not we are weary of the inward struggles. Let me explain.
Children are an incredible gift. They are a gift because of the joy they bring but an even greater gift because of the struggles they bring. God uses our most heart breaking, discouraging, and difficult times with our kids to change us and to teach us. I am convinced that without my oldest I would not have the prayer life I do. I may not go as often to God seeking wisdom. Without her I would not realize how ill equipped I am, or how the very same characteristics I long to see in her, need work in me too. I am so incredibly thankful that God gave her to me for those reasons. I am also convinced that without my youngest I would not have the patience or sensitivity that God has used her to build on in my life. It takes her a while to say what she is thinking and it takes me patience to listen especially when I am in the middle of something. I am thankful that God is using her in my life to build up my patience because it's something I need on a regular basis.
At times those same things that I am thankful for are also the things that I grow weary of. I don't always feel like praying or asking for wisdom. Sometimes I am tired of God using them to get at what needs changing in me. I struggle inwardly with the same doubts and fears that every mother from the beginning of time struggles with. Am I doing the right thing? How many opportunities have I missed to teach my girls about God and His ways? Am I too strict? Am I not strict enough? How do I get through to them? Did I choose the right type of schooling? Why didn't God make me more like that mom over there who seems to have it all together? Am I making the most of the time I have with them? I know I am not alone. I am not the only mom who has inward struggles, who doubts herself or compares herself to other moms. I know because I have yet to meet another mom who doesn't have these same struggles. So what can we do?
We need to encourage each other. Whether you are a mother or not you can be an encouragement to one. Moms can be pretty hard on themselves. Sometimes all it takes is one kind word to strengthen a weary mother. Sometimes us mothers are so focused on what we need to do or how we need to change that we fail to see the things we are doing right. All it takes is one other person to point it out to us and it can give us a whole new perspective, a renewed strength. I know this to be true because this weekend God used someone to encourage me at just the right moment. It was at the end of a wedding reception when we were saying our goodbyes that this lovely woman came up to me and told me to keep being the strong mother I am. Ironically it came at the end of a long week when I wasn't feeling strong. I was feeling tired. In fact I had just been talking to God that morning and asking Him to show me what I needed to do differently. God used her words to encourage me to be steadfast.
We know that words have power. Will you join me this week in encouraging one of the many mothers you know with your words? Give a tired mom some renewed strength. Tell her what you most appreciate about her, the wonderful qualities you see in her children, or what you admire most about her. If you are a mother yourself then you know how difficult and precious a task God has entrusted mothers with. You also know the inward struggles I have written about. Use this knowledge to habitually build up and encourage the women in your life who are mothers. Finally, I want to say thank you to all of my beautiful friends who share their joys and struggles in mothering with me. I am so blessed to be able to share life with such strong godly women. Happy Mother's Day!