Mess and stress are two words every mom is well acquainted with. Even before the craziness that is 2020 happened, we mothers knew these words intimately.
Every where you turn, there’s another thing to clean up. Someone inevitably spills their food or knocks over their glass of milk. Someone else gets a little creative with the magic markers and decorates the wall or an outfit.
The table is frequently covered in dried glue and stains from paint and markers because of all the crafts. There are crushed Cheerios in the carpet and toys taking over every room in the house.
Mealtimes are like a three ring circus where you try in vain to get one kid to sit down and the other to eat a vegetable. Giving your child a simple request often results in a high stakes negotiation.
Trying to get housework accomplished, you’re constantly interrupted by kids who are fighting over something- and nothing all at the same time. You correct ugly attitudes in your children while trying not to display your own towards them.
Showing Off The Hard Parts
It seems like stress and messiness are just par for the course of motherhood. We almost wear them like a badge of honor.
We share photos of our chaos on social media, lest anyone think we’re super mom and have it all together. We spill the details of our daily overwhelm with other mothers, to encourage them that it happens to all of us.
And this is good, to a point. After all, none of us want to feel alone, especially in our mess. But we’re not only revealing the hard parts; we’re glorying in them.
And if the only message is “I’m a mess, too” then it’s still a disservice.
Exchanging One Idol For Another
An immaculately clean home and perfectly obedient children can certainly be idols, but so can a constant state of mess and stress. And they can give the false impression that motherhood is burdensome and unenjoyable.
These two things aren’t reminders of the sufficiency of God’s grace, like 2 Corinthians 12:9 says your natural limitations and weaknesses are. They don’t reveal your need for Christ in and of themselves; that’s what sin does.
It’s true that sometimes they’re just unavoidable. Little kids make messes and aren’t well known for cleaning up after themselves. The simultaneous needs of multiple children can be demanding and stressful.
But many times, (let’s be real) they’re enemies of our own doing. Ones that shouldn’t be celebrated as the norm of mothering, nor elevated to high positions in our newsfeeds and casual conversations.
Where True Encouragement Is Found
Signaling to each other that “I’m a mess, too” may make us feel better for a little while, but it doesn’t really address our greatest need. It falls short of any true, lasting encouragement or relief.
Matthew 6:33 tells us to seek God’s Kingdom first. And in Matthew 11, Jesus issues a precious invitation:
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. – Matthew 11:28-30
Daily stress (over all the things on our to-do list) is caused by failure to Sabbath rest. It’s acting in your own strength, when you should be standing in Jesus’.
Stress doesn’t come from children; it comes from wondering if you’re a good enough mom to raise them well.
It doesn’t come from a messy home or busy schedule; it comes from feeling inadequate and exhausted.
Stress isn’t an external force; it’s an internal struggle.
Focusing on doing, doing, and more doing will exhaust you. But if you focus on loving God and your family- and then let Him to do the rest- your actions will be life giving to you!
They will empower and encourage you instead of drain and stress you.
We don’t put the fruit on our tree and make ourselves holy. We allow God to make us holy and the fruit grows from His work in our lives.
So let’s begin each day receiving God’s mercy, steeped in His grace and dependent on Him. Then we can receive what He has for us without being weighed down by the stress. Then we can be fully present without being resigned to the mess.
And we’re also able to give true encouragement, then, to other moms who are struggling.