When Motherhood Has You in a Valley of Defeat

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Lately, I’ve been dropping my kids off at school in the morning, breathing a deep sigh of relief, and audibly saying “thank you” as I drive away in my dusty minivan. Is public school a means of grace? For me, right now, yes.

It’s safe to say that these are trying days in the parenting department. Not in an extreme, “I just bailed this one out of jail” sort of way but more of an “I’m absolutely clueless / I have no business being a mom / Everyone go away / Let me lie down” sort of way.

I never said I wore I supermom cape.

Last week I absolutely came to the end of myself with this whole mothering gig and it was really the most needful thing.

I sat at my desk, weary and overwhelmed. I prayed and cried and asked Jesus Himself to please show up with a miracle, to help me love in a way that transcends reason and rebellion and my own severe limitations.

And He did, gifting me to love in a way I’d never experienced. I had glimpses of wisdom that came out of nowhere. Compassion and real empathy sprung from a supernatural well. By Saturday I was like, “Yes! I can do this! We. Are. WINNING.”

Then Sunday showed up with more battles and stress and willfulness than I knew what to do with — theirs and mine. Just like that, I relapsed into the familiar comforts of preachiness and anger and entitlement and why is this sooooo hard?

Dealing with behavior is one thing. Caring for sick souls is quite another.

While I don’t feel I know much as a mother, I am 100% convinced that moralism and charts and systems may get the desired results on the outside, but they won’t begin to touch the inside. In fact, good behavior may be so convincing to both kids and parents that everyone ignores the heart altogether. But a sick heart will kill a person, even one that looks perfectly healthy on the outside. Ask me how I know.

And so our home lately has felt like a triage unit with gurneys of wounded people and splayed-open hearts — theirs and mine.

On days of victory and progress, I feel like I’ll never taste defeat again. But then I do and such defeat makes me want to throw in the towel and tell everyone to please raise themselves from now on. I’ll provide groceries and find them a good therapist. I’ll even keep driving them around. But I cannot maintain a surgery ward.

Winning is a distant memory.

It’s in these valleys of defeat that I remember what carried me to the mountaintop of short-lived victory to begin with: being in a prior valley of defeat.

I face the uncomfortable truth that the Christian life is not about sustained winning. It is about sustained dependance.

When will I learn?

So I once again sink into the ground of humility and throw myself at the feet of mercy. I ask for power that I don’t have and am too tired to muster anyway. I ask for grace that is laughable. {Because true grace always is.}

I ask for the courage, companionship, and example that is Christ Himself — a gloriously scandalous God who knows that undeserved love, not lists and lectures, motivates a person to love — be it parent, child, or spouse. We love because we were first loved in such a way that it still makes us our heads spin. {Please God, let it make our heads spin.}

Always, we can shake off defeat and begin again because of the love-drenched grace and compassion we ourselves have been shown.

Dear defeated mom, motivate with love as you are motivated by love. Because love begets love. {And isn’t real obedience simply an expression of real love?}

At the end of a long week that followed an even longer week, I realize that being a mother is simply being a wounded healer, ministering to and interceding for sick souls with the presence and power of a loving Jesus.

{I’m honored to have this post syndicated on BlogHer.}

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Comments

  1. Kim says

    Oh Marian, complete conviction in this:

    “I am 100% convinced that moralism and charts and systems may get the desired results on the outside, but they won’t begin to touch the inside. In fact, good behavior may be so convincing to both kids and parents that everyone ignores the heart altogether. But a sick heart will kill a person, even one that looks perfectly healthy on the outside. Ask me how I know.”

    Wow. I know where my focus needs to go, what I need to ask for God’s guidance with. Thank you for your transparency.

  2. Linda says

    Wow, so much truth to meditate on, and God willing apply. I have 4 kids, one a ‘tween’ so this sounds very familiar.

    Loved this so much; “I face the uncomfortable truth that the Christian life is not about sustained winning. It is about sustained dependance.”

    There’s been countless times when I’ve found myself completely discouraged because once again I had failed or my child(s) had. – As if somehow we’re suppose to sustain winning, which in fact is unattainable if that’s defined as “perfection”. Yet how joyous that He’ll receive our imperfect dependance and…”Always, we can shake off defeat and begin again because of the love-drenched grace and compassion we ourselves have been shown.”

    Thank you.

  3. says

    “sustained dependence…..wounded healer….” wow those and the others in their context are life-giving/strength-renewing words, Marian. My and my children’s souls thank you!

  4. Lisa B says

    I too have been weary Marian. I meant to tell you on the last day of BSF that I have concluded prayer to be our greatest weapon. Today I read an article about strong willed children and I came upon the phrase Long Haul Love. I wrote this on my bathroom mirror and made one for my husband on a sticky. This is truly what is asked of us. I have to come before His throne daily for strength and I know we all are equally in need. I continue to glean so much from your words so keep writing dear friend because they are words of life.

  5. says

    I love everything about this post. “I face the uncomfortable truth that the Christian life is not about sustained winning. It is about sustained dependance.” And being a wounded healer. …. yes, Lord, may our head spin with the love and grace you bestow on us so much so that we can’t help but pour it out on others.

    Thank you, Marian, for these beautiful words.

  6. says

    Siden jeg er i full gang med Ã¥ pusse opp lekestua til vesla sÃ¥ hadde en Metal pendel Lilla passet utmerket.Eller sÃ¥ kunne jeg jo tenkt meg et par PIP skÃ¥ler – har jo ingen av disse.Krysser fingeren og hÃ¥per pÃ¥ visklreynke:)AltnÃ¥ 1 lykkelodd pÃ¥ meg ♥Sommerklem

  7. says

    Perfect timing! Football camps start next week (I’m an athletic trainer) and I have been racking my brain all week with things I can take to keep me full that will keep and won’t require heating. Thanks for the inspiration ladies and gents!

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