The second link is just the audio of my message; it is about 26 minutes, and if you have time to listen to it, I hope it greatly encourages you!!
(This slideshow is comprised of pictures that our MOPS moms submitted to me, as well as a few funny ones I found online):
Here are the notes from my message:
(Listen to the audio to hear the introduction and expanded points with illustrations):
Four areas that we lose our joy as mothers:
Mothers are really hard on each other. As much as we try not to do it, we judge other mothers all the time. We also, almost subconsciously, compare ourselves to other moms all day long.
We look at the ones who seem to be able to “do it all”, and we feel lame. We often compare ourselves, which makes us feel low, and then we judge someone else, which temporarily makes us feel better again. It is a vicious and un-godly cycle we can find ourselves in. I think the root of this is that each of us wants what is best for our kids. But by comparing, we lose our joy. We feel bad about ourselves. We focus on our weaknesses instead of our strengths. You’ve probably heard that phrase “comparison trap” because that is exactly what it is: a trap. Once we get into comparing, it is hard to stop.
We often compare
Another thing that can cause us to lose our joy is
You can have friends, yet still be isolated. Maybe none of your friends have children, and so you don’t have anyone that “gets it.” They want you to go out all the time, go shopping, etc.. and don’t understand why your husband just can’t watch your baby whenever you want. It is so important to have friends who “get it”- Who are IN your place in life. The isolation can cause us to lose our joy and feel alone.
A third thing that can cause us to lose our joy is
You probably know exactly what I mean when I say “mommy guilt”? I have SO many stories of things that happened to my boys that I feel guilty about, even to this day. This mommy-guilt is so overpowering that it can cripple us. It can hover over us and put a heaviness on us like nothing else. I remember one day last year when I picked up my son Micah from school and realized that I had just missed his Mother’s Day Tea. I was the only mother who was not there. The thought of him sitting alone just broke me and I cried about it numerous times. The sad thing was that I had nothing going on that morning; I was looking for something to do, and completely forgot about it. He came out of his classroom carrying a gift for me that he had made, this cute necklace, and this guilt just washed over me. This guilt can be overpowering and steal our joy from us, haunting us for years.
A fourth thing that can cause us to lose our joy is
I never really knew fear until I had kids. I want them to be safe, secure, and healthy. Yet I don’t want to keep ourselves locked in our house because of fear. If you’ve ever dealt with a health issue with your child, you know this fear well – sometimes we let our minds go to the farthest scenario of what could happen, and even the thought of it cripples us. We become fearful, anxious, and angry.
We fear of what will happen to our children when we send them off to kindergarten, and they are around other people for 7 hours every day. We fear “letting them go” and we fear of them getting hurt. But living in fear is also not the life God wants for us, his daughters. Fear can rob us of joy.
So how can we find joy as mothers?
I have not overcome each of these areas in my own life. I come to you as a mother who shares in these struggles and wants to overcome them, so that I will be a happy mother who my kids and my husband will want to be around. Thankfully we have our mentor moms who can encourage us in these things and share their stories of hope with us.
In preparing for this message, I asked God to show me His remedy for these areas in our lives. How can we find joy when we face these obstacles every day? Let’s look at what His word says we can do if we are feeling any of this:
1) Instead of comparing, choose contentment.
The reason I use the word “choose” is because each of these responses is a choice. We choose not to let our minds focus on the negative, but to choose a godly response instead.
Recognize that God has given YOU strengths as a mother that another mother may not have. And your weaknesses as a mother may be another’s strength. Focus on the blessings. When you are feeling down, like everyone else has everything going right, Go back to basics: thank you God for the roof over our head, for our food, for our health, for my husband’s job. Thank you for our family.
Our children can tell when we are not content. Whether it’s comparing ourselves to another mom, or comparing our lives to other friends or family members who have more than us, our children pick up on that so easily.
Remember that this is just a season.
"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want."
2) Instead of isolation, choose involvement.
In other cultures, and in biblical history, women were together all the time. They cared for each other, taught each other, took care of each other’s children. They even nursed each other’s babies. In our culture today, we are so isolated and alone. We are so busy we don’t have time for friends. But if you are isolated and alone, recognize that this is not how God designed you to be.
Proverbs 18:24 (KJV) "A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother." The reason I like this version is because it shows that WE have a part; we have to "show ourselves friendly" and reach out if we want to find friends.
Reach out. It takes work to make friends, especially after having kids. But if you can even connect with another mother once a week, it will give you something to look forward to. Invite someone over during the day, or go to someone’s house. You have to make an effort to connect but it is worth it. Join a Bible study. Join a MOMS group. Do what you can to surround yourself with support, even if they are not your closest friends.
Connect. Engage. Give to someone. Be joy for someone else.
3. Instead of Guilt, choose Grace- recognize that guilt is a tool that Satan uses to torment us. We all mess up.
“There is no way to be a perfect mother but a million ways to be a great one”
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (New International Version)
"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. 10That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
Hebrews 4:16 (King James Version)
"Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."
4. Instead of fear, choose faith. Fear is a reaction, while Trust is a response.
Exodus 2:1-4 –
"Now a man of the house of Levi married a Levite woman, and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months. But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him."
I think of Moses' mother here: think of the amount of faith this woman had to wrap her baby up, make a basket for him, and set him down in a large river. She didn’t know if he would float away, if he would fall out and drown, or if anyone would find him. The Bible says that when he was found he was crying. Can you imagine the pain she went through to “let him go”? Yet if Moses’ mother would have held on to him and hid him out of fear, he would have never become great. He would have never become the leader of Israel. It was because of his mother’s act of faith and choosing to let her son go and trust in God.
Nothing will happen to our children that has not passed first through God’s hand. Our children are his children first.
"Fear of man will prove to be a snare,
but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe."
"For I am the LORD, your God,
who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear;
I will help you."
Each of these responses is a choice. We choose to let our minds go down the paths of fear, of guilt, of comparisons, and even of isolation. We have the ability to stop our minds from going down those roads and choosing a different response instead.
These are things that can bring joy to our lives. When we are choosing not to compare, not to fear, not to isolate ourselves, and to not succumb to guilt, we will find joy.
Think about one of these areas that stood out to you the most. I can relate to all of these, but the one that stands out to me the most is fear. I struggle with that even more than the others. Rather than go home and feel overwhelmed that now we have all these new things to change about ourselves, I just want you to pick one area that you are struggling with right now. Pray about that area right now, and let God replace that area with his peace and his joy as you trust in him.