So God Made a Mother Collection ➔

Isn’t it funny that after you kill a spider you instinctively look for another one?

Suddenly, you are aware of the eight-legged danger that might once again invade your home. The room you found the spider in is not the same for a while because every time you turn the light on, you dread finding another dark spot.

That’s what fear is like—it’s looking for something even though it might not be there; it’s allowing something to reign in your mind that haunts you. There are times you think you’ve squashed it, yet you are always left wondering if there’s more. The room I found fear in? Motherhood. And, for a while, that fear changed me.

It’s funny that in 2011 my husband described me as “free-spirited”. Looking back at the pictures of the curly-haired girl with a bright smile, I agree. She was. She’d jump in the river, get lost in the woods, and move to new places just to have adventure. So, how did that carefree girl become the 32-year-old woman staring down at the whites of her knuckles, cringing against troublesome thoughts, trying to catch her breath?

Well, for one, she became a mother.

Cue the spider.

A few months after having my second child, I knew something wasn’t right. The joy I knew I should feel was as far out of reach as a kite tangled around a power line. I would look at my son’s fresh face, and I would wonder if he could breathe OK. At the slightest pink in his skin, I would wonder if he was getting a rash. I would listen to his chest, and I would count his breaths while squeezing crib rails and praying over him and over him and over him.

I would Google things and scare myself, I would make everyone who came over wash their hands, and I would stare at them the entire time they held him and cringe at the thought of them dropping him. I would check his temperature even if there were no signs of sickness. I would routinely do these things as if in doing them, I was keeping my son safe. My heart would fall, my breath would catch, and I would feel such a hollow heaviness in my chest. Sometimes I would even pray until I felt lightheaded and sick.

To combat the vivid blackness of fear, I shut down.

I didn’t want to go anywhere and I didn’t want anyone to come over. I wanted my little family to be isolated so we could be safe. In my mind, at the time, it was the only way to protect my son. It wasn’t until I went to the doctor in the belief that I had pneumonia (the pain in my chest was that intense and it was that difficult to breathe), that they listened to me and knew what really troubled me—postpartum anxiety/OCD. I talked, they listened, and I cried.

When the fear tumbled out of my mouth, it sounded absurd. I felt like I had been keeping a mouse in a lion’s cage, and when I released it, I realized it didn’t have the power I thought it did. For months it took my happiness and left me staring at the same walls, repeating the same what-if scenarios, and it distanced me from those I love—even my own husband.

The fear wrapped up in my postpartum anxiety wanted to be my undoing, but when I finally saw it for what it was and knew its name, I decided I knew a name more powerful: Jesus.

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love” -1 John 4:18

Leading up to my diagnosis, I allowed myself to live in torment. My fears picked at my brain, and I wasn’t surrendering them to God as I should have. I wasn’t allowing Him to perfect me but I was clinging to what was ripping my very identity apart. When I came to my senses and spoke openly about my fear, I realized the ugliest thing about me was the fear I constantly wore. Fear made me act ugly because it made me untrusting; as a result, it made those around me misunderstand and maybe even resent me because they didn’t know why I kept pushing them away. And, let’s face it, fear is unattractive; people are not drawn to fearful individuals because fear is certainly not an admirable trait.

“…my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” -2 Corinthians 12:9

My weaknesses are fear, anxiety, worry, doubt, and the “what if” mentality. I need to do ONE thing when I am confronted with fear—TRUST. Why is it that I am sometimes more persuaded by what I read on Facebook or what I see on the news than I am by God’s truths? I need to be like Paul and “know whom I have believed” and I need to know “that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him…” (2 Timothy 1:12). I need to rest in God’s keeping. I need to know that even though I sometimes don’t deserve to be kept in His hand, I can still feel the warmth of it.

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” -2 Timothy 1:7

The first five months of my baby’s life are a blur, and this saddens me. I allowed the devil to steal the joy God meant me to have in motherhood.

There is a difference between healthy worrying and obsessively worrying. It’s always been said that you can’t live in fear—and, you can’t—there is no life there. Fear reduces you down to merely existing until the next bad thing you fear “might” occur. There is no growing or thriving in fear: It is an overwatered plant with rotten roots. I decided to stop watering my fear, to stop looking for it; instead, I went to scripture and found verses to recite as a way to heal.

One of the worst aspects of OCD is having to obsessively repeat something for fear of losing control of a situation. When I was at my lowest, I decided that instead of having to recheck all the things that “might” pose danger to my family, I mostly need to check my heart. I need to learn to return compulsively, obsessively to Jesus. In doing so, I’ve learned to relinquish, repent, renounce, and reclaim. These verbs have one thing in common—they must be repeated. In doing them again and again, I can find relief and return myself to Jesus and allow him to give me the “sound mind” I so desperately crave.

Now when I find myself overwhelmed and the tightness in my chest gathers over my ribs like a dark cloud, I must first relinquish control.

Fear says I am in charge; trust says God is. When I allow myself to be persuaded more by worry than by faith, I must repent of my doubts and acknowledge the places I am weak and allow God to be strong. I have to decide to vacate fear and renounce the devil’s hold on my life, for that’s not the life God intends to give me.

Finally, ultimately, I must reclaim the life God meant me to have. My children deserve a happy mother whose eyes are not staring blankly while envisioning terror but one whose eyes are fixed on their precious faces, and, more importantly, on the Giver of Life.

What the devil meant for my undoing, God meant for my redoing.

You may also like:

My Anxiety Makes Me Feel Like I Fail Over and Over Again

Dear Husband, Thank You For Loving Me Through the Storm of Anxiety

I’m Not a Lazy Mom—I Have Anxiety

Stephanie Duncan

My name is Stephanie Duncan. I live in Tennessee and I teach high school English. I have been married for seven years, and I am a mother to two beautiful children, a girl and a boy.

Fall into the Arms of Jesus, Little One

In: Faith, Kids, Motherhood
Child walking

I have three younger brothers, so I know how crazy and wild boys can be. Lots of falls, cuts, scrapes, bruises, broken bones, and even a couple of head stitches. My husband has two younger brothers. He’d always tell how they used to jump from the banister down two floors onto the glass coffee table. Why anyone would do that, I have no idea. Pure madness and chaos.  Right now, I have a little baby boy who’s only seven months, but I know he will probably be just as wild as his uncles and dad. But that doesn’t mean I’m...

Keep Reading

10 Tips to Banish Teenage FOMO

In: Faith, Motherhood, Teen
Teen with red hair smiling

Do you ever feel like the whole world is having a party—and you weren’t invited Maybe you worry about being included in the right groups or invited to the right sleepovers. Maybe you envy the relationships you see at school or youth group or feel jealous of the perfect social media posts showing others making memories together. If you’re a teen in 2022, you’re probably well acquainted with the fear of missing out. Knowing or wondering what you’re missing or who is getting together without you can leave you feeling lonely. It can leave you lonely and a little blue....

Keep Reading

I’m So Thankful For This Little Family

In: Faith, Marriage, Motherhood
Toddler boy and infant girl, color photo

I remember my teenage self dreaming, hoping, and praying for a life like I have now. Praying for a man to love me, to be loyal to me, to want a family with me, to provide for me, to show me what stability felt like and what it felt like to not ever have to worry . . . and here he is right in front of me. I remember my teenage self dreaming, hoping, praying for a house I could make a home and raise my family in. Here it is right in front of me. But most of...

Keep Reading

How I Like My Coffee

In: Faith, Motherhood
Mother and daughter drink coffee

I like my coffee with hazelnut creamer and a dash of almond milk. I like my coffee cold and neglected on the countertop because I’m busy soothing my new baby boy, the one who has made me a mother. In my long robe and slippers, I pace the kitchen floor and hold my swaddled son close to my heart. When his fussing grows quiet, I can hear the ticking of the big clock in the den. The dawn slowly reveals itself, brightening the kitchen in increments. It’s hard to imagine keeping my eyes open until he’s ready to nap again....

Keep Reading

Compassion Holds My Heart

In: Faith, Living, Motherhood
Child hugging mother

I lean my head in through the window of his van. The first thing I notice is the funny smell. Like cigarettes. And maybe body odor. The second? His tired, wrinkle-lined eyes. They’re dull, lethargic even. My daughter scrunches up her nose. I give her that look and try to hide my own misgivings. But Compassion climbs in the car with me.  And as the taxi driver guides the car toward our destination, I ask him about his story. Turns out he’s been driving all night. Till 5:30 this morning. Taking people home who were too drunk to drive themselves....

Keep Reading

I Was the Girl Who Ran Away From God

In: Faith
Woman standing in grass, black-and-white photo

I was the girl. I was the girl who’d do anything to get high as a teenager. I was the girl who craved love and just wanted to be wanted. I was the girl who wasn’t afraid of anything. I was the girl who stopped believing there was a God. I was the girl who said I would never go back to church. I was the girl who was certain none of it was real anyway because I was wasting my time going places like that. I was the girl who let the heartache and disappointment of this old world...

Keep Reading

I Prayed for You Before I Knew You

In: Faith, Motherhood
Mother holding baby, color photo

Baby, I have prayed for you—even before I knew who you would be.  I prayed I would be a mom one day when I was too little to know what I was praying for and again when I really thought my body would not be able to carry a baby. I prayed for you.  I prayed every day as you grew in my belly that you would be healthy, happy, and strong.  I prayed at every doctor’s appointment and scan that I would hear your heartbeat loud and strong.  I prayed for your arrival—for you to be safe and for...

Keep Reading

Dear Mom, I Miss You

In: Faith, Grief
Grown woman and her mother, color photo

Dear Mom, Yesterday I went over to your house. I was hoping you would open the door, but Daddy greeted me with his sweet smile. Yes, he still has a mustache. The one you hate, but I did manage to trim it up for him. I cut his hair too.   We talked about you over coffee and waited for you to join us, but you never did. He’s doing his best to do this life without you in it, but his eyes are clouded with memories and mixed with pain. He misses you, Momma. RELATED: I Didn’t Just Lose...

Keep Reading

Spaghetti Sauce Faith

In: Faith, Marriage, Motherhood
Mother and little girl holding a bowl of spaghetti, color photo

It was Sunday afternoon, and I was loading my grocery cart higher than I ever had in my life. My husband and I, along with our two kids under two years old, had been living with his parents for three months. We moved from our Florida home to look for a house in Georgia, and they graciously took us in. This was the day I loaded up on groceries—filling an empty refrigerator, freezer, and pantry. My shopping list was all the things. I needed to buy the smallest of table ingredients like salt and garlic powder to the big things...

Keep Reading

Dear Introverted Mom, Take that Break

In: Faith, Motherhood
Woman outside with book and food

I am alone, in a hotel room, 20 minutes from home, lying back in the crisp bed, feet propped up on billowing white pillows. A good book is in my hand. The large window beside me overlooks the Mississippi River as the sun slowly sets and people unwind for a southern Louisiana evening in downtown Baton Rouge. I’ll probably order room service for dinner. I spent the afternoon at the coffee shop across the street, sipping on a deliciously caffeinated beverage carefully made to my liking. I ate a delicate snack filled with fruits, fancy lettuce, and expensive cheese while...

Keep Reading

5 Secrets to the

BEST Summer Ever!

FREE EMAIL BONUS

Creating simple summer memories

with your kids that will  last a lifetime