As I was putting away bathroom toiletries, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and thought, oh, what a hot mess you are as I quickly glanced away, wanting to forget the image I had just seen.
My eyes darted around the bathroom from one mess to another. The disgusting ring in the toilet bowl grabbed my attention, and although it was a bigger mess than I was, it still hit me hard. The condition it was in, was a direct result of me not properly taking care of my home. Ouch, another hit to myself and what a mess I am.
After that, every eyesore in my house was capturing my focus as I walked through the halls, past the rooms.
The cluttered bedrooms.
The pile of laundry all over the couch.
The countertops full of all the things.
The thick dust on my blinds.
The incomplete list of to-dos on my desk.
The words, I can’t keep up, circled around and around my head. I whispered to myself, maybe I am not made for this.
Everywhere I turned was a constant reminder of what I was not.
A reminder of what I wanted to be but couldn’t. What I was lacking as a wife and as a mom became my inner dialogue.
Failure. Inadequate. Not enough. All the ways I wasn’t measuring up hung heavy over my heart.
How could something I felt like I was born for, be so hard for me? Why couldn’t I get the hang of keeping a home, raising kids, and being an intentional wife? Why wasn’t I able to balance work and family life like so many other women who made it seem effortless?
Friends, this downward spiral is called stacking.
I have a bad habit of stacking problem after problem on top of each other. Issue after issue, piling so high, I can’t see any goodness in front of me. You too? Often times when I notice one problem or mess, my focus moves to the next mess and onto the next one until I am so worked into a frenzy of failure and overwhelm, I am unable to have a clear perspective on my situations. My focus is far off from God.
Once I start the stacking game, my mood goes sour. My words become less than gracious. Anything extra on top of my already toppling stack (like kids fighting or a sassy attitude from my tween) can lead to a full-on mommy meltdown. Have you been here too? If so, I have some tips to help you go from feeling like a mess to more grounded and secure in who you are.
Five things we can do when we are stacking:
1. Remember Who and Whose You Are
God tells us we are worthy just because we are His. There is nothing we can do to earn this status. We simply accept this beautiful gift from Him. Now we must remember it when the enemy puts those lies into your ear that you are a mess. We know God tells us otherwise and His truth reigns! (Isaiah 43:4, Luke 12:6-7)
2. Breath Prayers
My sweet friend Shara-Rae shared with me a beautiful (and quick) way she learned to find Jesus in the moments that overwhelm us. When your thoughts and situations feel like too much, stop whatever you are doing and/or thinking, close your eyes, and do a breath prayer. The prayer could be your favorite scripture or a line. For example, inhale, Jesus, and exhale, is my Rock. My friend’s favorite line is: inhale, Jesus and exhale, is my Shepard. This practice will take your unsteady feet and make them steady in Jesus. (1 Corinthians 10:4, Psalm 23)
3. Expectations Check
Are you measuring yourself against your own false set of expectations? Is what you are seeing on your social media feed taking away value from yourself? Accepting yourself as you are and letting go of the unrealistic expectations you created can feel extremely freeing. We are all made uniquely and we all have different things going on in our lives that may or may not affect us and our situation. What is easy for one person, may be hard for another. We have to stop comparing ourselves (this includes comparing ourselves against our own image of who we wish we were). (Psalm 139:14, Romans 12:2)
4. Gratitude Check
The best way to combat discouragement is to praise. Make a list of five things you are grateful for at this very moment. It is amazing what a mind shift can do to your spiraling emotions. It’s also good to list what you are good at, no matter how small. Sometimes we forget all the amazing things we are doing for our family. Gratitude is good for the soul. (Psalm 118:1, Colossians 3:15)
If you do have things around your home which could use some extra TLC (including extra time with your spouse), make a list of all the things weighing on your heart. To steer clear of stacking, pick one thing off the list to complete for the day or for the next five minutes. Set a timer, turn on your favorite song, and focus on the specific area. It will feel so good to get something completed and this will spark joy in your heart. (Proverbs 4:25, Hebrews 12:1-2)
Most of all, know you are not alone in feeling this way.
The truth of the matter is, motherhood is beautiful, but it is challenging all on its own. I think it is safe to say when we attempt to balance motherhood with all of our other parts of life, it can be chaotic and leave us feeling like a hot mess.
But friends we are not hot messes. We are so much more than that. We are so much more than the state of our homes or our kid’s behavior or our unfinished workload. What we are, are moms who have big hearts, who care about all the things, and we just want to love our families well. Don’t let the stack take you down. Grab Jesus’ hand and let Him help you rise above it all.
As God tells us in Colossians 3:12, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Sweet mom, we have to remember who we are (holy and dearly loved) and to make sure to be compassionate, kind, gentle, humble, and patient with ourselves too.