3 steps to joy (for young moms!)
I wish I could go back
and tell myself these 3 things...
I wish I could go back and tell myself these 3 things.
Yesterday I was reading a journal from my early years of motherhood. As I read my old entries, I was heavy hearted as I remembered all the guilt & desperation I felt; always wishing I was doing better.
I want to go back to that Kate and give her a hug. I want to tell her:
Enjoy your kids more!
Release guilt about not feeling connected to God.
You're doing the best you can right now! And it's enough.
If Kate from 10 years ago could spare 15 minutes, I would expound by telling her about these 3 steps to joy (but I would make it quick, because there would be a child to run after at any minute):
1. Enjoy your kids! How?
Look for God's image in them. When you see them in the morning, and you're a Zombie monster due to a terrible night's sleep, think, "You are made in the image of God." I promise, it will help! God’s loving image is there, even when they won't let you go to the bathroom by yourself. One of the best mom verses is I Peter 4:8, "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins." Yes, my kid's sins (shortcomings) are covered as I love them, and SEE God's love in them.
Be your kids biggest cheerleader. I remember deciding I wanted my kids to see me as a cheerleader more than a police. It was a life-changing decision that positively affected my relationship with my kids immensely.
As much as possible, be slow to anger and slow to speak, and instead quick to listen & quick to forgive. These contrasting ideas will really help you enjoy your kids more. It’s a guarantee. Have these be your rules. Don't worry if you break them. You will. But, have them be your standard. (God does.) Less talk. More listening.
2. Release guilt about not feeling connected to God.
I spent so much time and ink feeling bad about not being close to God. It's good to cry out to God. It's very Psalimst. But, I think I often missed the joy God was trying to give me by longing for it to come the way it used to. Before kids.
I wanted the old, deep, spiritual connection I had when I was 20 and had all the time in the world to spend in meditation. This was NOT possible during this season.
Letting this expectation go, and enjoying the ways God WAS showing up, might have brought me a lot more joy. Looking for things to be grateful for, writing them down, speaking them aloud, could have changed my joy-level greatly!
Some of the ways God was showing up for me when my 3 kids were constantly needing me (& I had no time to meditate):
In my baby's laughter
In chunky thighs (if God's not there I don't know where God is!)
In sweaty hands grabbing for mine
In baby arms gripping the back of my neck
3. You’re doing the best you can right now, and it’s enough.
"I'm not being the best mom/wife/friend I want to be." That's true! Let that be true. And let that be okay. It's really just an ego-centered thought. It's focused on you, not the other person. Feeling guilty that you're not enough isn't helping anyone! It's not a Jesus thought. Let it come (it's ok that it's there) and then let it go.
You're not being the best mom in the world. True! But, treat yourself the way God does. Be gracious with yourself. Forgive yourself for not being perfect.
I'd like to go back to that old Kate, give her a hug and tell her what a good job she's doing. Remind her to constantly be looking for ways to enjoy her kids. Encourage her to treat herself the way God treats her...full of compassion, mercy and love.
What would you go back and tell yourself?