People told me there would be all-nighters. I was informed that when my milk came in, my breasts would feel like bags filled with rocks. I knew I would bleed for days after giving birth and my belly would be like jelly for, well, forever. Everyone told us to eat out as much as possible, go on a babymoon, go to the movies — all of which we did. I felt as prepared as I could for something I had never done before, but I knew it would be incredible, challenging, and altogether life-changing. Everyone told me what to expect, and, of course, I read that book cover to cover. But the one thing no one ever told me was how lonely I would be.
Why doesn’t anyone talk about how lonely motherhood is?
I didn’t feel the loneliness right away. Between texting birth facts to friends, neighbors dropping by for a quick visit, and family managing the fridge and meals, I didn’t have time to feel anything but overwhelmed. The loneliness didn’t settle in until about week 6. It wasn’t until my husband went back to work and my baby boy stopped sleeping effortlessly on my chest that the small sting of loneliness slowly appeared. It was surprising because I was prepared for everything but this feeling. A baby was supposed to complete me and fulfill my womanhood. The ache of loneliness felt wrong. I felt guilty. I found myself bouncing my baby (for the 100th hour) back to sleep and weeping. I couldn’t tell anyone I was so terribly lonely. For goodness’ sake, I was a mother.
I see our loneliness at playgrounds when our eyes connect and then quickly look down, shame and solidarity saying, “We understand.” I see it as we walk aimlessly around Target. I see it in the hustle and hurry of gathering groceries from cart to car. I see it at preschool pick-up with a baby on our hips and a toddler in hand. I see it in finger tips pressed to phone screens. We look for something to fill our loneliness. We look for something to take the ache away. Loneliness sits on the counter of our everyday lives, right next to our baby monitor and breast pump. There it is, staring right back at us and judging our mothering skills. So often we try to resolve our loneliness with a quick fix. We use social media, wine, online shopping, schedules, a paycheck, or food to fill our deep-down dissatisfaction.
But loneliness isn’t something you solve. Loneliness becomes the light leading us back to Jesus.
Maybe no one told us about the loneliness in motherhood because motherhood doesn’t bring about loneliness; it just exposes it. We can’t check off a list, decorate our home, perform for friends, or spend hours prepping the perfect dinner like we once did before our unpredictable baby was born. Before children, we could manage our loneliness effortlessly. But now our loneliness leaks out everywhere. We can’t control it, push it away, or cover it up any longer. God purges us through motherhood. He brings up and turns over who we are and reshapes us into women who love radically and without condition. Through loneliness, God reveals to us all the ways we depended on our capacities instead of His grace. Our loneliness isn’t lost on God; it’s a means to form us into Christlikeness. He is bending and breaking our character into deeper trust upon His forever love.
What I wish someone told me before having a baby was that God is in the undercurrent of my loneliness. God cracks open and chips away at our core to bring about a beautiful undoing within us. God, in His severe kindness, stirs up the very soil of our souls and starts something new.
God is not only using us to raise our babies, but He is also, in fact, raising us — raising us by bringing up the loneliness that was always buried beneath our ability to produce, control, and perform. And in dark rooms we rock our little ones to sleep, and loneliness repeatedly rocks us. A loneliness that if we let rise and rests on our lips with others can lead us to true friendship. A loneliness that if lifted in prayer can lead us to the love of Jesus. Love is scripting a new story within us through motherhood through the breaking, the challenging, the sacrificing, and, yes, the loneliness. God is growing you into a new creation. You may not understand it today, but trust that the Divine is doing an artful work within you.
Take heart, dear one. Expect that you will be lonely through your motherhood journey. Loneliness isn’t to be feared, pushed aside, or pressed under. Invite it out. Feel its ferocious appetite and the ways you’re tempted to fill your hole with anything and everything but God. Let love meet you in the middle of your vulnerable void. The void that Christ knows full well. The void of darkness where Christ breathed slow, heaving, dying breaths. The void that vacuumed all of life from His punctured lungs and limp body. The place where all the world’s weight of loneliness pressed Him to pray, “Why, God, have You forsaken Me?” Meet Christ right there, right where He is always meeting you — arms stretched wide, chest open, love mercifully exposed, welcoming you into a loneliness He fully understands. Your loneliness finds company with Christ, and it leads us back to love and always back to Jesus.Leave a Comment
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
Even though it will soon be thirty years since I gave birth to my first child – Yikes! I am old – I remember moving from the East to the Midwest in the dead of winter, with a 6 week old, and knowing no one in the new town where we were settling. I wasn’t only lonely, I was downright depressed. We are excellent at doing, performing, striving, achieving, and basically being busy. Motherhood throws a big monkey wrench into those grinding gears. Major life changes have a way of bringing us face to face with God. I remember sobbing into my pillow asking God to please help me. This was a pivotal point in my relationship with Him. Sometimes we have to break before we will run into His arms. Thankfully He met me in my misery through the kindness of a neighbor who invited me to a MOPS meeting (Mothers of Preschoolers) – a Christian outreach to young moms. What a lifesaver that group was for me. Others running late to the meeting because the baby threw up on their clean outfit or had a blowout on the way out the door…..we were all in the same boat together. I encourage moms to seek out a group like this because the birth – preschool years are tough and we NEED community in ALL stages of life. I wish they had Mothers of Teenagers or Mothers of Adult Children lol. All stages have their lonely periods and like you said they point an arrow straight to our best friend. Thank you for your honesty in sharing so beautifully.
Anjuli paschall says
Ahhh bev! I’m in tears. Thank you. Your story is my story perhaps it’s the story of every mom becoming a mom. God so beautifully meets us in our loneliness. It’s really a healing story. Thanks for your love and encouragement. MoPS has been a life saver too
Michele Morin says
When I was approximately 73 weeks pregnant with our first son, I quit my job and moved to a town where the only people we knew were associated with my husband’s work. I can remember driving around these rural roads (before the GPS came on the scene to save my life!), lost and crying, the baby crying in the back seat, and I was certain that I would never find the post office. The phone was my lifeline to old friends, but my life was incomprehensible to them. And you’re right–God did meet me in that lonely time, because He had my attention.
Another quick thought: I wish I had been brave enough at that time to own up to the depression that exacerbated my feelings of isolation. There is so much help available for those who just can’t find their way back to life because of Post Partum Depression, and even though it is very hard to admit that we need help, if any readers are suffering from depression, please speak to your health care provider about it.
Rita Mayell says
My example has nothing to do with motherhood but singleness. We who have longed to share life with that special someone and have children the ache of loneliness haunts many. The Church, most women groups do not reach out to us. Often we feel like lepers shoved outside the church. Oh you won’t recognize it because we are leaders who love God, who are loving, celebrating and encouraging everyone in our path. But at the end of the day we feel that ache. Holidays are endured and rarely enjoyed as it is a reminder of what we don’t have. We believe, we trust God and take steps to stay far from bitterness, envy or jealousy. But it hurts snd the enemy constantly screams his lies. I have learned that I can shout louder because He who is in me is greater. What I’ve learned is that my strength is in Him. That my singleness caused no distractions with family. I chose to face loneliness and let Him fill every desire. But I too have learned I need like minded people walking with me. Most of us don’t have community. There is no place for us in the church, most women groups are about family, children and every once I awhile there may be a token article for us. I’ve tried to be a solution but then I become tired of starting up something alone. So I decided to reach out here and ask if anyone is listening
I’m praying for you today. May you feel God’s loving arms wrapped around you. He cares, and he’s always listening.
Michele Morin says
Rita, I hear you.
My husband and I were both “older” (at least by the standards of rural Maine) when we married, and we remember well the challenges of the solitary believer. Many of the friends that we have folded into our family are single women who, like you, have devoted their lives to serving God, and He has called them to do it solo.
We try to hear their hearts and to be family to them, and even so, I know that we are not enough.
Thank you for not caving in to the pressure to throw over your values in order to find temporary comfort, either in an unwise marriage or a sinful lifestyle.
I’m not sure how interested you are in making online connections, but I regularly read the writing of Yvonne Chase (yvonnechase.com) who is also a single woman living for Christ. Even if her style and content are not what you’re looking for, I have a feeling that if you reached out to her, she could connect you with other Christian single women.
I think you have done a very wise thing to share your concerns here. As a church, we need to do better.
Blessings to you, and you are in my prayers.
Rita Mayell says
Thanks Michele, Crys, Anjuli, Becky… your response was a huge hug from Papa God. Sometimes it is just knowing you have been heard. I don’t want to join a “singles” group but be integrated into all women who love God. I think being isolated into our own group has been a means the enemy has used to cause us to feel separated. I may not be married YET and don’t know your story but I know your substance. So to the women who are alone due to a season of small babies and raising children- that must be tough. I don’t ever want to minimize your pain but stand, support, love, pray, encourage and celebrate your gifts and walk alongside as you feel separated from the outside world for this season. It does not matter if your season is months or years. We all need support. I support you. Thanks for sharing authentically on this site… and if anyone has thoughts of how to integrate single women into this site, I would love to roll up my sleeves and be a part. Just sayin….
I’m listening. Pressing my ears hard to your words. Asking God how we love well. Begging God to meet you in these places of great pain. I’m listening, Rita.
Becky Keife says
Oh, Rita, raising my hand as a listening sister too. Thank you for trusting us with this great ache of your story, which I know represents the experience of many many single women. That’s a really hard thing to go it alone for so long, both in life and ministry and trying to be a catalyst for cultural church change. Yes, we need to do a better job of enveloping sisters of all walks and seasons of life. You are not a token afterthought here.
I’m listening, this is me. I get this completely. I just wanted to reach don’t know what else to say but I just wanted to reach out.
I get it. This is me. I’m listening. I don’t know how to make change – but I wanted to reach out.
Robin Dance says
I’m praying in response to your words here; thank you for sharing your heart and revealing vulnerability. I hear you…
Rita I’m listening and I hear you. I know that loneliness all too well. Yes it’s hard to integrate and fit in. We need to encourage each other. To the young moms reading this, I would say you don’t have to go through your season of loneliness alone. There are probably older, single, childless women near you who would love to be a friend and support to you and an honorary auntie to the children.
Oh thanks for your words. I have so many vivid memories driving and crying with my baby crying in the back seat. I had no idea what I was doing. I definitely want to encourage moms to talk about their feelings, especially with a health care provider. No one should suffer alone. There is medical help if you are experiencing depression. Praying for moms going through such darkness.
Beth Williams says
This world screams for more doing, being, rushing around. We can still be lonely in the midst of that. God created us for community. He wants us to have friendships. Not just the online kind either. We need & our souls crave face to face relationships. Groups like MOPS are so important. They bridge the gap & help you see you are not alone. People can be lonely for lots of reasons & depression can set in. It is important to form a few good friends to call or text. I feel God may be trying to bring us back to Himself after all our busyness is done. Love this: “God is scripting a new story within us through the challenging, the sacrificing, and, yes, the loneliness. ” He is molding our character.
Yes! MoPS has been huge in my life. I pray loneliness leads us back to Jesus. I’m so grateful there are places and groups like MOPS that welcomes us in “as we are.”
I find that now I have an adult daughter, a teenage daughter, and 3 young grandsons, I am more lonely than ever.
Sarah Geringer says
Praying that you will be comforted by God’s constant presence, Christy.
Ahhh I’m so sorry. Loneliness is so painful. Praying You find comfort . I’m still in the baby season and those teenage years already make me ache inside. I wonder how God is using this season to shape you in His love. Praying for you now.
Robin Dance says
((hugs)) I don’t know if this will be of help, but a wise Titus 2 woman in my life years ago encouraged me to “give from my void.” It’s hard to know what shape that takes, but perhaps pray for God to reveal how you can serve Him, bless others, and be encouraged in the process…..
Thank you so much for this post. I have a four year old and I’m still lonely deep down. I prayed last night for friendship and God is so good in His timing with this devotional. I’m keeping these words to read and pray over.
Stacey, I know this loneliness well. You aren’t alone. Praying God continues to meet you in ways that are unique to you. May you know how deeply you are loved and seen. Anjuli
Joy M says
I was just in prayer about how to encourage creative women thru an online community that is up lifting. I’m a homeschooling mom and constant creative finding my way thru art. I was sensing so deeply that as moms and creatives we are solo artists. It is a long, narrow, lonely road. The exact thing the Father was showing me was loneliness. In a “connected” world some how we became more isolated. In addition to the isolation motherhood itself brings. I love the way you are speaking up for moms in this post and in your amazing work with The Moms We Love Club. As i scrolled thru the pictures i was moved so deeply for what showing love can do. I love the simplicity of your ministry and how humble you are in loving these moms. I pray Jesus continues to bless you with influence and a wider audience for the sake of love. Love what you are doing! i’m so encouraged and inspired! xo from FL
Thank you joy. You have no idea how your words have encouraged me. I feel seen. Wow. Thank you.
K Ann Guinn says
What a wonderful post! My “babies” are almost 19 & 21-year old sons who still live at home to attend community college, but I awoke feeling especially lonely today, so the title caught my attention. We live 500 miles from most of my family, and although I have friends and a good church full of people to relate with, I often experience seasons of loneliness. I wonder who God wants me to befriend or reach out to?
How insightful to recognize that our loneliness points us to Christ. I’ve been a Christian for close to 50 years, yet wonder at how immature I can be in some ways. It’s good to admit our weaknesses and allow them to draw us closer to the Lord. I needed to hear this today. Praying that he will use our loneliness to draw us first to him, then closer to the people he’s placed around us.
I love how God met you specifically in your present need. And, even though I’ve been a Christian a long time I’m JUST learning that God loves me. Haha. Christianity is for the forever beginner 🙂 you’re in good company!
Melissa Anderson says
Thank you for sharing your experiences of loneliness as a mom. These words would have been so beneficial to me several years ago, but like many other moms, I would plaster a fake smile on my face and march on, not realizing there are others struggling in the same ways. Your words will undoubtedly open doors for women to share their struggles so we can be intentional and encourage each other whenever possible! Thank you!
K Ann says
Oh thank you so much for writing this!! I’m sitting here rocking my 4 month old as I read your beautifully written words. It is all so true. I was not prepared for the loneliness. I had always been busy and now it has come to a total stop. I love what you wrote about not filling the loneliness with all the things around me but letting it lead me back to Jesus. Thank you again for these words of encouragement today!
Becky Keife says
“Through loneliness, God reveals to us all the ways we depended on our capacities instead of His grace.” This, friend. Yes. Thank you for so beautifully calling out the hard of motherhood–which can transcend many seasons of womanhood–and pointing us to the gift of loneliness as an opportunity to press deeper into Christ. Such a joy to see your first words here at (in)courage! xx
Rebecca Jones says
People do sometimes neglect to discuss the post partum part of motherhood and I know that all loneliness is a call to come to Jesus.
This was Absolutely Beautiful! Right on time as God always is. I’ve been struggling with loneliness lately. To read this & realize Jesus also dealt w loneliness. Speaks directly to my soul. Tugs on my heart. I’m an Awe & utter Appreciation of His Love. His obedience. To Love Me So Very much to Complete his Assignment. Not only for me but for the Whole World. I’m Overwhelmed in many Emotions. Thank you Jesus!!! I can’t say it Enough.
Vulnerable Void…. Feel it’s ferocious appetite & the ways I’m tempted to fill this hole w that, that is not of God. I’m guilty of…. but to know I’ve repented & can meet Jesus right where I am. He meets me…… Glory be to God!
Thank you Father!!!!
Robin Dance says
What is so lovely about what you’ve written is how God uses our broken places as a conduit to Him <3. There are things in motherhood I don't think you can fully appreciate - the good and the not so good - until you're walking it out yourself. This is sweet encouragement for those who are walking in loneliness and need to see Light.