MOTHERHOOD AT THE END OF ME
By Liz Wann
Sometimes motherhood can just be too much. There are many times when I reach my breaking point, and it feels so hard. At those times the feelings can be overwhelming and the tears recurring. It’s complete exhaustion at every level.
It’s not just the physical needs of my children that are demanding, but their emotional, mental, and spiritual needs as well. I’m playing the peacemaker between my two sons, I’m counseling, I’m working through character development, and discussing heart issues. Just a day of working through behavioral issues can be enough to drain me.
And yet I would never trade my life for another. I love what I do and feel privileged to be able to do it. The joy of answered prayers for my children or witnessing growth and understanding in their lives can be so rewarding. But it’s no wonder moms feel like they are going crazy! We can feel such a range of emotions on any given day: joy, fear, love, sorrow, pain, fatigue.
Daily Death and Resurrection
It’s because of this range of emotions that we see a pattern emerge in our lives. A pattern of daily death and resurrection. Because of how hard motherhood can be, it feels like a cross to carry. The death we feel is a death to ourselves: our independence, parts of our identity, our time, our bodies, and so on. It’s a constant laying down of our lives, an emptying of the cup. The hardships inherent in motherhood are like the initial death a grain of wheat undergoes as it is buried in the earth. But the only way toward the life of the harvest is the death of that very seed. The life of Jesus was that seed, poured out and spent in service and then buried in death (John 12:24–26). But at the end of it all was life: new, glorious, resurrection life.
We tend to think that life precedes death, but in the kingdom of God it’s backwards: death precedes life. It’s the pattern Jesus left behind for us. His life shows us that we must die in order to experience true life in our hearts. As Paul says, “That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” (Phil. 3:10).
We become like Jesus in his death by putting to death the sin in us and by denying ourselves for the sake of others. This is why motherhood is so hard—not just because we are weak and needy, but because we are sinful as well. The hard things of motherhood are like sandpaper, cutting back our rough edges and making us smooth. The Holy Spirit is using motherhood to refine us. Whether that’s through the disappointment of unexpected circumstances, embracing the ordinary and mundane, the crushing weight of our burdens, our weaknesses and failures, or any form of suffering we are experiencing.
When we embrace the daily death of motherhood, we can humbly offer our struggles to God. He will meet us in our depression, anxiety, stress, sleep deprivation, anger, frustration, and lack of patience. This is exactly where he wants us. This humble embracing of death is fertile ground for new and deeper life.
Surprised by the Struggle, Humbled by Grace
I didn’t expect death when I first became a mother. I was surprised by the dark struggle. Motherhood has humbled me. It has shown me how weak and needy I really am. This is a good death to die, and I die it daily. I die deaths through sleepless nights, nonstop service, countless interruptions, and the sacrifice of my time and energy (let alone the sacrifice of my body and mental capacity). The way we respond to these “daily deaths” is crucial for their purpose in our lives. Bitterness and apathy will only make them worse, but humble acceptance and desperate cries for help from the Holy Spirit will turn these “deaths” into “resurrections.”
If we view these “deaths” as opportunities to draw close to our Father, they are worth it. Every day I’m reminded of my weakness and my great need for Christ to work in me and my children, but my “resurrection” moment in motherhood came when I saw what God was killing in me: my self-sufficiency. Motherhood has shown me that I’m not strong enough, and I’m not good enough. There is nothing in me, in and of myself, that can make me be enough. Only running to the One who is.
When we admit we’re weak mothers, we have a fuller realization of how strong a God we serve. This is the place of death where God swoops down and displays his resurrection power to us through the work of the Holy Spirit who raised Christ from the dead (2 Cor. 12:9–10). In Him we are strong enough for all the daily deaths of motherhood, and we can look to Him to bring the fruit of new life in our souls. We, as mothers, can look to Jesus as our example, in his life, death, and bodily resurrection. We too can be that seed.