Saturday, May 9, 2015

the 2 a.m. mother

you wake up for no reason.
it's 2 a.m.
you ...
play the what-if game.
let your mind wander.
feel your heart worry.
question your ability to make it all work.

you are a mother.

it's the middle of the night and you find yourself in the middle of anxiety.

yeah, i know.
it happens to this woman too.

and i can't figure it out.

with almost two decades of parenting behind me and five kids always a few steps ahead of me -- kids who are doing, basically, pretty good -- why now?
why am i now finding myself under attack and anxious?

it doesn't make sense.
we've had busier, bigger, more burdensome days ...

why now?
why this?

maybe it's our particular parenting cocktail: one in college, two in high school, another in middle school and one more just beginning elementary.
maybe it's this crazy combination which leads me to that place of concern.
i don't know.
i just know that this year has been a battlefield inside me, my thoughts, my way of thinking ...

maybe it's because we've had our share of injury, illness and issues --- things i wasn't planning on.

as a mom, you can plan your dinner menu, but you can't plan these kinds of things. 
they happen.

(well ... let's not take anything for granted here -- sometimes you can plan your dinner menu).

and maybe that's it the most ---- after two decades of parenting and two decades of calling the shots and two decades of making the decisions and two decades of directing and corralling and choreographing our family ...
i am more certain than ever i am not in charge.

i am not as in charge as i have always liked to think i was.

tomorrow will be my 19th mother's day. 
19 years of experience should make me some kind of expert, right?
19 years of experience should suggest some kind of excellence, right?


but here's what 19 years of experience does make me --- empathetic.

i may not always feel certain in my parenting, but this lack of certainty is the very thing which allows me empathy for other mamas.

this motherhood thing, it's hard. and where each and every season has it's own type of hard, it also has it's own type of holy. 

there's been nothing -- no thing -- in my life which has taught me more, how hard and holy can go hand in hand, than motherhood.

doesn't matter if you are holding your fussy newborn or holding onto your teetering toddler.
doesn't matter if you are holding the hand of your hurting middle schooler or holding tightly to your rebellious teenager ... 

as a mother --- so much of what we do is about holding: carrying, embracing, lifting ... sometimes lugging along.

i spoke at a women's luncheon last monday. my audience, a lovely group of mothers.
seasoned and experienced women with kids ranging from tiny to tall.
i encouraged them to find their sufficiency in Jesus -- not in themselves. 
and yet, i didn't tell them that the night before i had woken at 2am and wondered and worried and wrestled in my own inadequacies and insufficiencies.

why is it so hard to turn it all over to Jesus? 

i was encouraging these mamas, but i was preaching to myself.
that's usually how it goes in my writing, in my talking, in my teaching --- i am the target.

i am the one in need of the good news.
i am the one in need of the gospel message.
oh my heavens, i am the one in need of grace.

and even though i am not living in a perfect state of peace and wisdom, and even though i sometimes have more anxiety than i do answers, i hope that i can encourage you, too. 

just because we don't have it all together doesn't make us an imposter, it makes us authentic. 

if you're worried that your worry is making you less of a christian ...
if you're anxious that your anxiety is making you less of a mother ...

know this (instead) ---
it makes you real. 
it makes you raw. 
and what's more, it makes you receptive to the pain and problems of others. 

yes, we have to seek our sufficiency in Him
yes, we have to strengthen our faith.
yes, we have to surrender our family.

but, no, we don't have to pretend we have it all together.
and we don't have to beat ourselves up when we feel the doubt or worry or fear rise up.

those 2 am sessions ---
don't look at them as a lack of faith,
see them, instead, as a chance to lean into the Father.

"draw near to God, and He will draw near to you." ~ james 4:8

"cast all your anxiety on Him, 
because He cares for you." ~ 1 peter 5:7

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