When Kris and I Skyped about me joining the team at Grace Table, we couldn’t believe how much our hearts had already been aligned. It was as though we were old friends who had been searching for the other and found home in each other’s stories. I’m so grateful and honored that I get to share the space she created and to have my first post be up today.
We go down this path a million times a day, and it takes me all those times for me to see beyond my anger, his disobedience, and what’s fair. For a heaven-sent second, everything slows down. His screaming quiets in my head, and I finally perceive what is good and profound through the loud fog of disciplining him. The generosity of his arms reaching out to me first, the relentless desire to reconnect – it’s the gospel, the hospitality of reconciliation.
I started this post a couple of weeks ago with the title It’s OK to Need and Ask for Help. I planned to write on how we can’t do parenting alone and how it’s good to ask people for help when we need a break. I often get overwhelmed with motherhood, and I wanted to encourage others that it’s ok not to be able to be and do everything all the time.
I thought I had beat shame in that area. I had come to the point where I was able to send out an SOS text without becoming overrun with guilt. But shame is sneaky.
The truth is we do need help from others, but what I didn’t realize at that time was how powerful shame can be when wecan’tget help, when we ask but no one is available.
It happened to me the other day. Out of desperation from a rough morning I sent out a text. My friend wasn’t available but asked if everything was ok. When I had to explain why I needed help, shame flooded over me like a tidal wave and left me feeling exposed and needy. The conversation wasn’t intended to bring shame, but that’s what shame does, that’s what the enemy does. He takes what is innocent and turns it against us.
The accusations rang loud in my head-
Grace, you can’t handle the kids on your own?? What kind of mother outsources her kids? How many times have you asked already? Are you really that desperate? It’s just sad. Suck it up and mother your children like you’re supposed to. Don’t be ridiculous.
Shame made me want to melt away and disappear forever or build up walls and never ask for help again. She tried to convince me that I didn’t need others, that I just needed to be stronger, better, more self-sufficient. She tried to convince me that vulnerability wasn’t worth the risk of rejection, that it would be better to pretend to have it all together than invite others into the mess.
I’m working through it. I’m reminding myself that I’m covered by Him, that I’m safe in Him. I don’t have to be tossed back and forth by shame because my identity isn’t tied to what I do and how well I do it. No, I am who I am in Christ and that is enough. I can rest in His sufficiency, in His strength, and shame has no ultimate power over me or you. We may get struck down, but we will not be destroyed.
I dread 3 pm. Naps are done, the energy is high, and the witching hours begin. I look at the clock and try to figure out how we can quickly pass the next four and a half hours before they go back to sleep. If we’re lucky, we’ll get a playdate in, but if we’re not, it seems as though the clock has decided to take its sweet old time between the tick and tock.
By dinner, I’m done. I want them to cooperate and hurry everything up because I want the quiet of my own space. Even though I know these moments will soon end, that the kids will grow up faster than I think, I still rush. I still make them rush. I don’t have my kids in sight at that point. I only see the goal of peaceful freedom, and I try to run to it… with legs made out of lead.
But lately there have been moments when I get to see them through someone else’s eyes. It can be a stranger passing by or a family friend or the many people who love them at church. Our kids say hi to them or reach over to give them a hug, and when I look at their faces, I’m stopped. Intrigued. I see such softness and delight. I see gladness filling up their hearts, and they take in the love, they enjoy their presence, and they stay there.
I look at them, and I don’t feel the same look on my face. Instead of a smile, I feel a frown. Instead of softness, hardness. I wonder how seldom I have that look of pure joy, how frustrated and despairing my face must look during witching hours. And it grieves me to my core. Yes, they scream. Yes, they disobey and hit each other. But when I see them through someone else’s eyes, I get to see them for who they are most of the time. They are a delight. They’re hilarious and sweet, and nothing compares to the love and hugs they give.
I want to see them more with those eyes. I need to see them more with those eyes. I want them to know how loved they are not only by the many others but even more by their mommy whose heart could burst when she sees them with the right eyes.