Confession: I'm tired. I'm a tired mom.
Not only because I just tucked my kids into bed after a fourteen hour day of refereeing sibling fights, making and cleaning up meals, and potty training my fourth child. Not only because of the crowds amidst the back to school sections and the stress on the checking account that “back-to-school” creates. Not only because of the incredibly awesome, sunshine-soaked, adventure seeking summer I’ve had with my kids that has left us all a tad drained. Not only because my husband and I argued over discipline issues for the first hour of the day and started off mad at each other. Not only because my own selfish sinful nature causes me to ask my kids, my husband, and my Savior for forgiveness over and over again.
Not because of any one of those things, but because of the total accumulation of those things. I’m really tired. (As proof: I poured dish soap on my son’s waffles the other day instead of maple syrup. How??? The Dawn bottle looks nothing like the Mrs. Buttersworth bottle. Thankfully God whispered to me about my mistake before I handed him a very disgusting plate. As I made his second round of waffles, he said to me, “Okay Mama, not green syrup, okay? I not need green syrup, Mama.”)
Now, before this starts to sound like a “poor me” sob story, let me pause. Because it’s not that. I don’t feel one iota sorry for myself. My life rocks. My life is exactly what I want it to be. Sure the checkbook is painful and my energy is waning right now, but I’m a happy and richly blessed woman with four stellar awesome kids that I love more than life and a rockin’ hot husband who adores me.
So, I’m just being honest when I say that in the midst of this blessed life, I’m also tired. My guess is that so are you. If you go by the name “Mom” by one or more human being, chances are that you’re tired. (Those of you who don’t go by the name “Mom” are probably tired too. I am absolutely not negating your exhausting efforts in this world. I am simply directing this blog to those who, like me, are tired because of “Mom.” ) As in: “Mom!” “Mom!” “Mommommommommom!” “MOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMM!” “Hello! Mom!!! Why aren’t you listening to me!?” "Mom, do you hear me!? Are you looking at me??? “Hey Dad, where’s Mom?” “MOOOOMMMMMMMMMMMYYYYYYY!!!!”
I’m not burned out. I’m not depressed. (I have been before but I’m not right now.) I’m not for one second wishing for any other life. I’m not going to do anything crazy like get on an airplane and fly away or take myself on an excessive “retail therapy” shopping trip that I can’t afford. Instead I am going to decorate my son’s birthday cake, make supper, throw a little family party, read a bunch of books, and tuck in my precious kids like all the rest of you.
I’m just tired. Anyone else?
And here’s the deal. The fact that I get tired isn't important. It's what I do when I'm tired that actually matters. In the midst of being tired, we have a Jesus who invites us unto Himself. My own emotions…of being tired, or ineffective, or simply not enough…aren’t the important part. The important part is whose arms my emotions drive me towards. My weaknesses drive me towards the loving, strong, outstretched arms of Jesus. The Jesus who said to his exhausted disciples, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mark 6:31
Isn’t that a fabulously enticing invitation? Let’s look at it closely.
First of all, Jesus said "Come." That means leave the chaos behind. Cue the angels and the Hallelujah chorus! He’s already got me.
Next, "with Me." That’s almost too sweet to my soul to even say anything more about. Come away with Jesus. The God who created me and knows everything about me, good and bad. The God who loves me more than I can imagine and implores me in Scripture to try to explore the height, depth, width, and length of his love. The God who created places like Fiji and Tahiti and Wind Canyon in the ND Badlands and rolling fields of golden wheat and prairie sunsets and coffee and chocolate so that I would be captivated by his love. Wow. Come with Him? Yes.
The invitation is already almost too good to be true, (except everything Jesus says is true). Yet he goes on. "Come with me by yourselves." Ahhhhhh!!! Are you kidding me!??? By myself?! You mean so I can take a long hot shower and drink a pot of coffee without it getting cold? So I can sit down at the dinner table without getting up a thousand times and then coming back to cold food? Yes please, Jesus. It’s so lavish. And yet he continues: "To a quiet place." Whoa. Quiet? You mean so I can hear my own thoughts? And more importantly, so I can hear the whispers of God to my heart? That sounds amazing. I haven’t heard “quiet” in a long time…I haven’t made space for quiet this summer, which is my own fault. Jesus knows that, so he invites me to quiet. What a Jesus. What an invitation.
And then our Jesus addresses this very human need of ours, this need for rest…because sometimes we simply get tired. And Jesus understands what it is to be exhausted. Let us remember that in the midst of a terrible storm on the sea, our Jesus was asleep in the boat. So rather than admonishing us for being tired, he lovingly says “and get some rest.” He knows full well that whatever storms arise while we’re resting, he is fully capable of calming. So invites us to trust him, and rest. He probably doesn’t just mean sleep, although I would imagine that for most of us, our need for sleep has to come first. And then, after catching up on sweet, uninterrupted sleep, we can dive into the quiet with Jesus to find rest for our souls. What a shockingly lavish invitation.
And yet, I don’t believe it was only for those 12 disciples. I believe it’s for you and me too. Jesus’ heart towards us is still utterly loving. He knows full well the hard work of motherhood – he created motherhood. And he created our rambunctious, never-tiring kids. Jesus loves our kids more than we love our kids, and he wants their mothers to be well-rested. He wants their mothers’ hearts to be nourished so we can nourish the young hearts that he has intentionally entrusted to us. So he invites us to himself. He knows that's the only way we can do it.
Another of his invitations is expressed in this way: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
The writer of The Message (a transliteration or paraphrase of the Bible) beautifully paraphrased Jesus’ invitation this way: “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Wow. “Learn the unforced rhythms of grace?” Umm…yes. Let’s do that.
My friend, my word of hope to you is this: You don’t have to make excuses for your exhaustion or feel guilty for being tired. Usually when I ask new moms how they're doing, or experienced moms that have just become "Mom" to another new baby, the response is a very tired and placid, "Oh, we're doing great!" And then I always tell her, "Just so you know, you can be honest with me. I've brought home a new baby four times, and I understand it's crazy hard and you are probably utterly exhausted, fighting with your husband, and at the end of your rope." And then relief washes over her face and she says, "Yeah, it's actually been kinda rough. I'm really tired." Yes. I know. Today in church I asked a new Mom how she was doing, and her utter honesty was a breath of fresh air. They just brought home their third baby, and she just said flat out that adjusting to three has been really hard, there have been multiple surprises, and it's been a tumultuous summer. Yes. Absolutely. We needn't feel guilty for our merited feelings.
I also don’t think we can use motherhood exhaustion as an excuse to disengage from other important roles and duties that we need to fulfill. This is our calling for this season of our lives and we should carry out the duties and responsibilities with as much (or more) integrity, ingenuity, excitement and effort as we bring to the professional workforce. But motherhood exhaustion is certainly legit and merited, no doubt. And Jesus meets us there. Jesus invites us not to whine and complain about it (which I do all to often) but to accept his invitation to rest and renewal. He invites us to lean on him. To trust in him. To throw our worries and concerns onto his mighty strong back. To let him calm our storms even if we need to take a little break to sleep for awhile.
He actually delights to see us need his strength. That’s why he says, “‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
Sister, when we admit our weariness in motherhood, we aren’t giving up. We aren’t throwing in the towel. Usually, we aren’t even crawling into bed yet for the night. All we’re doing when we admit our exhaustion is giving the glory to the One to whom it belongs. We’re saying, “Okay God. You’ve got to lead me today. I’m too tired to lead myself. Help me put one foot in front of the other.” “Okay God, I can’t even pour the correct liquid on my three-year-old’s waffles. That means You’re gonna have to be my strength and power for today. Lead on, Jesus.” And we show our kids that Mom is not all that, but Jesus is all that. And if that’s as much as we accomplish in one day, to teach our kids that Jesus is always strong and some days I am simply not, well then I call that a good day.
Please journey with my through the next several weeks through this blog adventure called “Confessions of a Mom Who (Fill in the Blank) And the Jesus Who Loves Me Through it All.” Each post will focus on a different Mom-Confession, and in the midst of our honest weakness and struggles as moms, we will journey towards the love of Jesus…discovering just how high and long and deep and wide his love is for all of us, even when we’re tired Moms.
Jesus loves you, sweet friend. Now go to sleep.