I rubbed my bulging stomach, trying to appease the skin that was stretched and desiccated, begging me for assurance. We were expecting our first child, and at that point in building our baby registry, my mind was whirling. I wanted to hide from the bright white lights of the colossal store, but they reached into every aisle and reflected their potency from the vinyl flooring. My feet felt like stubs too small for the weight of my body and my son’s growing one. I felt too small for the weight of “shoulds” I had agreed to without a fight.
Ten years ago, at this point, I thought our decisions about everything from sleep schedules to discipline, homemade verses jarred baby food, and whether or not we taught our son to speak sign language along with other needed languages, would determine how bumpy our flight of parenting would begin and stretch forward. Beyond that, I believed that all of our work would ensure our son’s safety, thriving, well-being, and basically, his everything.
As first-time parents, our attention to detail was over the top. Our first was bathed daily, fussed over, kept to a good schedule at all costs, and never had a hair out of place. Okay, that last part was an exaggeration, but you get the picture. I read verses like “train up a child” as insurance and added my extra credit for good measure. We had stacks of well-meaning books, and in the back of my mind, I had a crowd of phantom parents to follow and compare myself to.
A few years later, after an onslaught of transitions, another child added to the mix, and sleepless nights that stacked endlessly, one upon another, I realized I couldn’t figure it all out. The foundation of keeping things together and choosing all the right things for everyone all the time was breaking apart underneath my feet.
I’ve heard it said that parenting, like many of the journeys we embark on in life, isn’t for the faint of heart. I get the sentiment. I might’ve even repeated it. But if I’m honest, I’d tell you that I’ve always naturally been a faint-of-heart type of person. The description isn’t favored in our rugged, individualistic, God-helps-those-who-help-themselves culture and I still feel some embarrassment in admitting it. Whether we say we buy into those ideals or not, those ideals have permeated everything in sight.
My own parenting road reminds me of gospel glimpses of Jesus’ disciple, Peter. Peter had his hand up, ready with passion and right answers, all the time. I have been like a mama bear, ready to defend my cubs and attack, the way Peter cut a soldier’s ear off when they came to arrest Jesus in an olive grove. I’ve hidden like Peter after he tried to disassociate himself from being a disciple for fear of what people would think and say. Wearing a coat of shame, I’ve believed my validation as a mom and my worth as a person was wrapped up in outcomes and how my little ones behaved.
Peter had to start sinking in that water he so eagerly volunteered to walk on. He had to be submerged in the magnitude of mystery he claimed to understand, to know his need for the only One who could rescue him once he started flailing.
Over the years, courage has begun to look a lot more like humility to me. I think we’d all do a lot better to admit how afraid we really are. Bravery looks like starting there. Courage isn’t just for those who have quick answers, wear a tough exterior, or claim to have their ducks in a row. Nor is it just for parents. It doesn’t birth itself along with a baby or any other new journey.
Courage is for all of us who admit how scared we are and put our flailing selves into the ever-outstretched hands of Jesus. It’s for those of us who can say we don’t know, admit we’ve made mistakes, and choose to live in the indomitable stability of Jesus’ forgiveness, healing, and redemption.
My family and I are facing a new challenge right now. The skin on my stomach is no longer stretched taut anymore; instead, it now bears witness to all of the weight it’s held and released. I should listen to the reminders its ample, uneven curves speak. Their waves of skin counsel me to turn from the temptation to read every book, try to fix it, become the expert, and figure it out. This space, that’s been pulled like taffy, tenacious like a fortress, and as complex as an intricate machine, reminds me that our ongoing challenge involves a person to love, not a problem to patch up and regulate.
And while books and trying new things are good, Jesus offers me something else when I feel like I am sinking at the end of the day. He offers me His outstretched hands. Again and again, stretching further than my skin has ever had to, He offers Himself to fill in all the faint places in my heart.
Courage looks a lot more like humility. We’d all do a lot better to admit how afraid we really are. -@tashajunB: Click To Tweet Leave a Comment
Michele Morin says
Oh, Tasha, I did the same thing at the outset of our parenting journey. Finally, I had to stop reading parenting books and magazines for a season just to find my way back to peace.
The truth is, our kids (or our husbands!) cannot bear the weight of all our hopes, and even our “train up a child” mentality is so dangerous, because it puts the focus on our ability to control outcomes — a myth!
Thank you for pointing the way to courage via acknowledging our fear and then handing it over to God.
It’s true that it is such a weight. That’s a good way to describe it, Michele! Thank you.
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
I thought parenting was one more “thing”, that if I put my mind and best effort toward it, everything would turn out well. I had been successful at many “projects” up until then so parenting shouldn’t be any different, right? WRONG! Parenting has been THE most humbling experience. Nothing has left me feeling more out of control, vulnerable, doubtful, fearful, panic stricken, and flat out scared. It’s also been the source of some of my greatest joy. Parenting has brought me to my knees more than anything else I’ve ever experienced. Nothing has made me realize more, just how much I need Jesus and His grace for my shortcomings, and God for His strength and wisdom. Nothing has made me pray, “Less of me and more of You, Lord,” more than being a mother. Parenting and life in general IS for the faint of heart and Jesus is right there for us, through it all, to lean into and depend upon. I would not have made it all these years had I not learned to rely and depend totally on the Lord. He is my salvation and my strength. Great words you’ve given us, Tasha. L O V E your tweet!
ps. Thank you for the prayers you’ve kindly offered up for my children and me….
Amen, Bev. Yes, I see it all to be so true, and yet find myself still living in thick of it, learning and re-learning. I am glad you are here and thankful that you invite us to pray and trust Jesus with you.
Thank you Tasha! I’ve birthed three children and my eldest is officially a tween turning into a teenager later this year and Oh Boy we are in for a ride. For all the books, schedules, blogs, sleep programs etc I learnt that it would all be Ok, that I could not and still cannot control the outcome…I need Jesus and a whole lot of grace for my mistakes as a Mum. I need Jesus and God to go to with prayers, worries and tears. Parenthood has been a wild ride from the miracle of giving birth and everything afterwards. Even though my children drive me nuts at times, don’t listen, are frustrating I would drop everything in a heartbeat if they were hurt or needed me. They have brought the most joy I have had in this life and are a true blessing, there’s no way I could survive the rollercoaster without having Jesus and our Father to go too!!
We still have so many new things to learn and new seasons ahead. I am grateful for those like you, who walk ahead in this journey and share honestly about your own dependence on Jesus. That’s a gift.
Beth Williams says
Life in the messy middle between two Edens is hard. The world offers advice & do it yourself ideas to try. Trouble is life isn’t one big project to tackle & finish, We can’t regulate all of life’s problems. Some of us think we have all the answers, like Peter. In the end we don’t have a clue as to how to hold it all together. We are here to love each other unconditionally. Sure we can read all those self-help books & try to model others, but that isn’t what God is looking for. He wants humble people admitting their faults & running to His outstretched arms for help. Raising children these days is super hard. The devil has so many distractions to entice & lure them. I admit I can’t do this life alone. “Raising/dealing” with aging parents, my new job all that scares me. Thankful Jesus’s outstretched arms were there to hold me & guide me on this journey.
Between two Edens. I like that. Thanks so much for sharing and being here, Beth.
Parenting is what I believe the Lord is using to shape and form me. I have 3 beautiful kids 21, 16, and 14. My middle son having special needs and my last son having some learning disabilities. I think I’ve cried and prayed than anything while parenting. One thing that’s for sure, I don’t mind telling the Lord how much I need Him, can’t do anything and will not make it without Him. The struggle is REAL but so is my God!
I bet you have a lot of stories. Thanks for sharing a bit here. I am the same when it comes to those tears, and can’t imagine my own kids at the ages of yours.
Amy G says
Tasha, I needed this post so much! I am a mom of four. One is in college and two are teens. I am finding this season both wonderful and terrifying. I am realizing that my worth as a person has been very much tied up in my performance as a mom. That means I have been inadvertently putting pressure on my kids to perform as well That’s damaging to them and our relationship. And now I have these almost adults who are making decisions on their own…and it’s so scary! I need to risk believing God that HE has them in His hands. No matter what. And He has Me, too. And it’s all good. Because He is good. Love from your fellow faint hearted sister.
Amy, thank you for letting me know that. I imagine that the temptation to tie our performance as moms and as women in general will always come and go. It’s been that way for me. I am grateful for the moments when God allows me to see that I am doing that and gives me another way. He loves our kids, and he also loves us so very much! I am so glad to know it’s not just me.
Keri Boer says
“Stacks of well-meaning books”. Boy, do I remember that season when I held my newborn in my arms, reading desperately from those parenting books. I was so distraught because they contradicted themselves more than agreed as to the “best way” to raise my precious, fragile daughter. I wanted to get it “right” and not mess her up for life! I finally threw out the books and gave her over to Jesus. He reminded me that He made her so He loves her more than I do and will never abandon her. He will make sure His plans for her come to fruition. She is about to turn fifteen. He has been more than faithful to fulfill His promises for both of us.
Thanks, Keri. Yes, he is so faithful to us and to our kids, isn’t he? I need all the reminders though. I forget so often. I am grateful for books, and use them, but I am becoming more used to turning to Jesus first instead. I still need the reminders all the time. He loves our kids and he loves us mamas, too.
Parenting is such a blessing, and yet one of the most challenging things I’ve done. The day I went to the hospital to have my first born, I felt safer locked in the bathroom until the nurses called my husband to come and coax me out. I am so humbly grateful for God guiding me through the years and helping me overcome fear to face the challenges head on, with trusting the Lord to be my stronghold.
Thank-you for the sharing with us Tasha and for reminding us, that although we might be afraid we can always trust the Lord to help see us through.
Set my feet upon a rock making my steps secure.
I hope that you all have a blessed day,
Penny, I can relate to that feeling of fear in the first moments of becoming a mom. I didn’t lock myself in the bathroom, but did similar things. 🙂 Thank you for your words and for that scripture reminder. I take a lot of refuge in God as my solid rock. He loves us so much, doesn’t he? Grateful you are here.
Thank you for the reminder of letting God lead our children’s lives. He is so loving, able and compassionate for us and wants what is best for us as any father would. I invite you to join me in praying for our children and letting God take control of their lives… I recently found an international organization Moms In Prayer who pray for their children using scripture and praying under one accord. Check out their website for more information. The Holy Spirit led me to find this group and I am leading a small group in my town. http://www.momsinprayer.org. A few moms in my area gather each week and we pray for our children. It is a great way to get into God’s word more and let Him do His will in our children’s lives.
Thanks, Amy. How wonderful to have a tangible group of women who can pray together and remind each other what’s true, when it comes to parenting.
Becky Keife says
“Courage is for all of us who admit how scared we are and put our flailing selves into the ever-outstretched hands of Jesus.” Beautiful, friend. Yes and amen.
Thank you, Becky.
Thanks for sharing, Tasha. I love and am always encouraged by you ❤