As an adult, I’ve balanced being a full-time college student, a volunteer for a high school ministry, and a retail employee for 30+ hours. I’ve held two internships and two part-time jobs simultaneously. Yet, never have I felt more overwhelmed and powerless than at my most current career choice. My current job? Being a mommy of two.
A few weeks ago, after a long night of nursing and rocking my newborn Eliana, I was an exhausted, irritable mess. I was flipping pancakes, while bouncing a crying Eliana who was strapped onto me by a baby carrier. Keeping clutter at bay seemed impossible as my 23-month-old Jeremiah threw around the dish towels I had just folded neatly in a drawer. As I unstrapped Eliana to start breastfeeding her, Jeremiah grabbed and spilled the (expensive!) maple syrup, making the floor nasty and sticky. I soon found myself raising my voice at Jeremiah, anger and annoyance welling up within me.
Looking back, the above scenario seems kind of humorous. But in moments like those, I get so aggravated. Verses like 1 Corinthians 9:27 seem impossible to put into action–“But I discipline my body and bring it into submission, lest when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.”
As I’ve studied this verse in my personal bible study, I’ve observed a couple of things. The Greek term for “submission” means to treat something as a slave i.e. with severity, subject to stern and rigid discipline. In other words, my body is my slave; I am not a slave to my body. I tell my body what to do, and not the other way around.
Since becoming a mom of an energetic toddler and a restless newborn, I’ve found it especially difficult to not allow my body to dictate my moods and my actions. It’s been so easy to play the victim card, and to justify my sin of lacking patience and being quick to become angry. My logic: “I’m tired, therefore I’m allowed to be irritable.” I’ve let my body (my tiredness) to affect my mood, and I’ve allowed myself to sin and get impatient and angry at my children. Too bad God also said: “Do all things without grumbling or disputing” (Philippians 2:14). I have no excuse.
Since that incident with the maple syrup, it’s been my prayer that as a mom, I become more aware of my tendency to allow myself to be a slave to my body.
Thankfully, God is gracious. Whenever I slip up, He reminds me that this is a process. I’m not going to get over this overnight. Patience will only come as I work through these emotions in the midst of the things that test me, as I memorize Scripture and then recite it at the opportune time.
God reminds me that I am not a victim, but I am “more than a conqueror” with Christ on my side (Romans 8:37). Since He has allowed me to be a parent, He believes I can do this whole parenting thing! God reminds me that this season of life (being a mom to a toddler and a newborn) is just a transitional time that will soon pass, and to give myself the grace and the space to figure this all out. He reminds me that I can lean on and trust in Him, and that He will give me the strength, energy and ability when I am lacking.
Someone once said (paraphrased): “God gives us children not so we can raise them, but so that He can raise us.” In only two short years of motherhood, I’ve already found this to be true.
QUESTION: What is a commonplace experience that has taught you a valuable life lesson? Let me know in the comments below.