I wrote here about mommy solidarity posts. The ones that share how hard it is and how much we fail and end with encouraging each other to “hang in there.” Up until a few weeks ago, I was all about those posts. I was liking them on Facebook and commenting that is was nice to know I wasn’t the only one. I would have looked at the tired mom of a screaming newborn and said, “It’s gets better. You’ll outgrow the nasty hormones and she’ll outgrow the gas and reflux. She’ll start to crawl and eat cheerios and she’ll get happier. It gets better.”
It does get better, but now I want to find a way to say, “But you can get better before it gets better.” When James 1 says to have joy in trials, it doesn’t give exceptions. (Though wouldn’t I love to make hormones one. “Count it all joy… except for about four days a month when you can just lose it.”) “We think a change of scenery will fix the problem… We think the answer is a new environment when the real answer is a new me.” (James MacDonald, When Life Is Hard)
A few months ago I was in a store by myself and heard a baby crying. My jaw clenched and my shoulders tightened and I felt completely beat down. A few weeks ago I was grocery shopping with the girls. When we got to the cashier, she looked at Emily and said, “Oh it’s you that’s been making all that noise.” I stared at her for a second, because I hadn’t even been conscious of the fact that Emily had been so loud. For some reason, on that day, I was confidant in the fact that I had done everything I could for her, and if she wanted to be mad I wasn’t going to be stressed about it.
It took me six months to get to the second story, and it was still a rare occurrence. How can I say to other moms that we should be able to “count it all joy” when I’ve spent so much time deep in baby blues?
I was thinking about all of this in the car this morning, and then it happened. I got tested, and God miraculously helped me pass.
It had been a rough morning. The baby had been crying from the moment she woke up, and the toddler didn’t want to wake up and then didn’t want to use the potty. I was very tempted to just let us sit in our misery, and I was proud of myself for having the courage to go ahead to our planned outing.
And then. Toddler desperately needed to use the potty, didn’t want to go in her diaper, didn’t want to go on the big potty, and didn’t want to leave the fun activity. And completely lost her mind. It was the fit of all fits, the worst one ever. In the middle of a very public place, I had tried in vain to calm her down, to strap her in the stroller or to carry her with one arm and push the stroller with the other. So I sat on the floor with her in a bear hug and felt my eyes begin to burn and my natural cycle begin. That would be to cry until we got home, dump her in bed, call the whole day ruined, and crash with some junk food and TV because “it’s just been too rough.” And then a lightening bolt from heaven told me that the only thing I could control right now was myself. So I held it together. Somehow I got her to the car and strapped in her seat, and by the time we got home she was cheerfully talking about the birds. And I could talk cheerfully, too, because I hadn’t let my emotions take over. I did crash on the couch with an ice pack, because wrestling 29lbs of crazy isn’t the best thing for your back, but then they took amazing naps and I got a lot done. And when Josh texted to ask how it was going, I was able to say “not so great but I’m handling it well.”
Some of you relate to this, and some of you don’t, but I have never displayed that much control over my emotions before. Which means I didn’t do it.
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
God immediately gave me an answer to the questions I had in the car, which is just incredible. In all my weakness, I can still share the truth with you. Because I am not boasting about my power, but His.
So mommies, we have got to let God help us find joy through the hormones and blessing through the screaming. PLEASE God, continue to shock me with Your power in my life! I most definitely do not want this to be a one time deal!
“Whatever you are facing…your situation is your opportunity to shine the light of Christ to those who observe you. You can display the superiority of a life lived in God. Realizing that reality and embracing it with your whole heart allows first a sprinkling of joy…and then a stream and finally a downpour to flood your soul. But you can’t come to that conclusion coping on your own. You can’t consider it joy when you’re filling your face with food to dull your pain. [ouch] You can’t consider it joy when you’re filling your mind with entertainment to dull that pain. [ouch] You can’t consider it joy when you’re filling your heart with anger to dull that pain. And you can’t come to the joyful conclusion when you’re filling your body with substance to dull that pain. Only by considering why you are here, and what life is really about and where you will be going very soon can you consider your trial joy.” (James MacDonald, When Life Is Hard)