“Stop . . . whining,” I growl through gritted teeth, eyes flashing as I narrow them yet again at my four-year-old.
Her hands stay firmly planted on her hips, lip curled up at an angle that foreshadows the teenager yet to come. She huffs back in contempt.
“You’re failing,” a voice sneers inside my head.
“Mah-meeee!” The toddler wails from her room, waking me with a jolt from a just-achieved slumber. 1:37 a.m. I glance over at my husband, still snoring in gentle oblivion, as she ratchets up her howling. Sighing, I fumble in the dark for my glasses and shuffle down the hall to pluck my youngest from her crib.
“You’re useless,” a voice taunts inside my head.
My husband walks through the door after work at 5:30, the crinkle of the McDonald’s bag announcing his arrival as he sets it unceremoniously on the counter. I unload chicken nuggets and fries—dinner with a side of shame—as I resign myself to another meal I failed to prepare for my family.
“You’re a disappointment,” a voice berates inside my head.
That voice, it’s everywhere.
Do you ever hear it, too, mama?
If this were a cute cartoon or Sunday comic strip, it would be coming from a red-horned, pitchfork-wielding demon sitting jauntily on my shoulder, spewing hateful words into my ear and right on down to my heart, gleefully reminding me I’m pathetic.
But this is real life—motherhood—and that devil looks and sounds a lot more like my own doubt and shame and self-defeat following me around like the family dog.
I have a feeling that’s exactly how the enemy likes it.
The twist in this story, though, is that’s also exactly what forces me out of my own self and points me toward the only One who can redeem my shortcomings.
And I have shortcomings in spades.
It’s what happens to almost all mothers eventually, right? We wrap ourselves up in our job as moms, sacrificing our time, our energy, our literal bodies for the work of mothering. We “lose” ourselves to it, allow it to dictate our happiness, our perceived value.
And, funnily enough, for being a role I play constantly, I’m not really that great at motherhood. I rarely stay on top of the dishes or laundry. The kids’ rooms look like cyclones regularly drop from the ceiling fans and wreak havoc. I yell too often, stress too easily, lose patience too quickly.
But when I let happenstance become the definition of motherhood instead of allowing it to do the refining work of the heart it has the potential to set in motion?
I imagine that’s when the enemy really starts grinning up there on my shoulder.
When I hear that voice reminding me of my failures, my exhaustion, of all the ways I’m letting the people I love and care for down—I can be defined by it, or I can recognize it for the lie it is.
Those voices try to tell me I’m only as valuable as my best efforts, which fall frustratingly short basically always.
But the only voice that matters says bring your failure and your worry and your not enough—and be loved anyway.
Because motherhood is a gift, not an identity.
That means dropping the notion we are the only ones who can create and fulfill our meaning, value, and purpose; the idea that we are the heroes of our own stories; that motherhood is the sum total of who we are.
Instead, when we clothe ourselves with God’s grace, we gain peace—not only in motherhood, but in every other aspect of this life here below.
Is Satan stealing your motherhood?
You better believe he’s trying.
But there is a Savior matching and surpassing him pound-for-pound, waiting to redeem, refine, and honor it . . . if only we’ll listen for His voice.
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