Encouragement for the Stressed Out Mom
We try do it all. We do our best to be put together and available for whatever is asked of us. I mean, it's our job right? To be super mom? To go above and beyond in everything people expect from us? But what if it isn't? What if we aren't supposed to be a super mom, but rather to be prioritizors of what is super important?
This is a hard lesson I've been learning over the past month. And it's a lesson, I think, every new mom has to learn at some point. As soon as we become a mom, we get this feeling of needing to be everything to everyone. Our worth becomes tied to how much we can do in a day or how motherly we appear on the outside. An inner critic grows inside us, whispering constant strands of doubts in our hearts. Such as, "You're not doing enough" or "You're not as organized as your mommy friends" or "You aren't as successful as that mom."
On and on the doubts stampede through our head. We bury ourselves in busyness to prove to the world that we're not just sitting around eating chocolates and binge watching Netflix all day.
But it's not just our own fault either. Ever since having Levi, I've experienced more people asking for help with a volunteer project here and an activity plan there. Nearly every day, I'm bombarded with people asking for me to play a part in some sort of time consuming task. While none of these tasks are bad, they quickly add up and chip away at my time and energy.
I remember just the other week, sitting with a friend who is a mom to three kids--one about to graduate high school, one about to begin high school, and the other still in elementary. We were chatting about life and enjoying the small talk when I got a text from someone asking for me to be in a committee for a volunteer event. I was already drained from other commitments I'd agreed to and had reached my breaking point.
I dropped my phone in my lap and looked at my friend and asked, "Do people not realize I'm a first time mom? Do they not get that I've barely got my day to day life figured out?"
She just laughed. "Welcome to motherhood. And I'll warn you now--it only gets worse with each kid."
"Is it because I stay at home with my son? Do they think I have extra time since I don't have a full time job?"
My friend shrugged. "Maybe. But I work full time and still get asked to do things like I have nothing better to do with my life."
Her words ring true. We as moms put pressure on ourselves but also have others putting pressure on us. We are pressured from all around to be Super Mom. But Mom, hang up your cape. We aren't called to be Super Mom.
If you're a stressed out mom, take some encouragement. Yes, we are called to do our best and to put our whole heart in all we do. But we are not called to do everything. And we are not called to please other people. We are called to please God. Colossians 3:23-24 (ESV) sums it up so well:
"Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ."
Where in this verse does it say we have to do everything? I don't see it. Where in this verse does it tell us to say yes in order to please others? No where. It's because we aren't supposed to be the Super Mom everyone reveres and looks to for answers.
I encourage you to read the entire chapter of Colossians 3. It is a great passage for everyone because it teaches us to live for God and to put effort into our work, but not to be people pleasers (Col 3:22) But as a mom, I learned three great "mom" lessons from studying this verse and the surrounding passage.
1. We must put our full effort in all we do.
In this passage we are told to work heartily. Another verse in the Bible says that whatever your hands find to do, do it with your might (Ecclesiastes 9:10). What we do sign up for, we need to be ready to put our full effort into it. But this should also be a red flag for us. We are not all powerful. None of us are real super heroes. We can't do everything with 100% intensity all the time. (I talk more about this in my post How to Be More Reliable.)
So let me ask you, is there something you've signed up to do that you don't have the time or energy to put your full effort in? Or by putting your full effort in, does it hinder the responsibilities you have to your husband and children and life at home? If so, maybe it needs to be cut out from your schedule.
2. We are to work for the glory of God, not for the glory of man.
What comes after work heartily in Colossians 3:23? "As for the Lord and not for man."
Often times, we make this sound a whole lot harder than it really is. In reality, this is such a freeing rule! It is impossible to please man. Downright impossible. Because in bending over backwards to please one person, you inevitably let someone else down. And no matter what we do, there will always be someone who doesn't approve.
But it's not impossible to please God. Do you know why? Because He knows we are human and imperfect. He expects us to fail sometimes. All He asks us to do is to put our heart into our work and to do it with Him in mind.
Wow! That's it? How awesome is this? As long as we are doing the work God (not man) has called us to, then we don't have to worry about letting anybody down. This doesn't mean we completely neglect our neighbors or never help out (Colossians 3 talks of this in the beginning of the chapter), but it means we don't have to do something because we've been guilted into it or because it's expected of us by our peers.
Before saying yes to something, go to God in prayer and ask Him if this is what you should be doing. Then listen to the answer. My mom always tells me the Holy Spirit gives us the answer in our gut. If your gut feels twisted and anxious over something, that's the Lord telling you not to do it. And she is spot on. Every time I don't listen to the twisting in my gut, I end up drained and run down and my other true responsibilities slide.
3. Our reward is not in this world.
One of the biggest reasons we fall into the trap of trying to fit into our Super Mom cape, is because we like the gratification we get from the people we help out. We like to hear how wonderful of a job we're doing or how helpful we are. It makes us feel good. But if you read this passage in scripture, our reward doesn't come on this side of heaven. The Bible says, "knowing from the Lord you will receive the inheritance of your reward."
What does this mean? Well, as Christians, we get to spend eternity in heaven with Jesus. Our inheritance (a perfect eternal life in heaven) is our reward for the work we do on this earth. Not that we earn our inheritance by working hard, but that our inheritance from accepting Christ's gift of salvation will be reward enough. We just have to trust God at His Word.
Again, I find this so freeing. We don't have to worry about getting a gold star from our peers. We don't have to worry that our follower count on Instagram or Twitter isn't in the thousands. We don't have to worry when we don't get praise or applause for our hard work. We don't have to feel insecure about having limits to what we can handle. Those rewards are only temporary and fade away as fast as they come. But eternal life in heaven, that's forever.
After you pray and ask God if this is what you should be doing, ask yourself why you're considering it. Are you wanting to do this to just to get praise from other people? Or is this a task God has put on your heart to do and will further help your family and those you love while bringing Him glory at the same time?
Not that we earn our inheritance by working hard, but that our inheritance from accepting Christ's gift of salvation will be reward enough.
Here's my challenge to you:
Take time to sit down and list out all the events, activities, and responsibilities you've taken on. Then circle the ones that bring you and your family closer together. Next, circle the ones you feel a strong driving passion for. Then, evaluate the remaining ones and ask yourself these three questions for each--1) Can I put my whole heart into this? 2) Is this what God wants me to do or what other people expect of me? 3) Am I doing this just to get praise and attention from my peers?
The answers you give to these questions will open your eyes to whether or not you should continue down that path. And remember, God's expectations of us are the only ones that matter. And that fact is the most stress relieving truth ever.
Tell me in the comments some of the ways you're going to let go of the Super Mom mentality! We all have them and sometimes sharing them with others gives us the encouragement to let them go.