When Running Looks Like Crawling on Your Hands and Knees: Encouragement for the Tired Mom
This morning I woke up feeling sad and disappointed. Still no baby. And as I thought about the day ahead, I just couldn't imagine how on earth I was going to face it. I heard my toddler calling for me from her crib, but I didn't move. I just laid there, allowing the previous night's insomnia and exhaustion to wash over me. How am I going to do this, Lord? Another day of caring for my daughter on my own, not knowing how much longer I'll have to lug this aching thirty-nine-weeks pregnant body around on so little sleep.
I finally did climb out of bed and start my day, but it didn't take long for all of my emotions to overwhelm me again. My husband offered to take off from work to take care of me, but I assured him I'd be fine (I had to be). After he left, I made myself my usual cup of coffee and opened my Bible to the book of Hebrews, where I have been camping out for the past couple of weeks.
To be honest, I didn't expect to feel encouraged or strengthened by it. There have been many days lately where -- dare I say it -- the Word has felt a little dry. But I open my Bible every morning anyway because I know this is one of the ways the Lord likes to meet with me. And I'm so glad I do this because today's reading was Hebrews 12 and the first two verses were so perfectly-timed and comforting.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith... (Hebrews 12:1-2, emphasis mine).
I couldn't stop thinking about those words, "run with endurance." I knew I needed to investigate further what this might mean for me. So I looked up the original Greek translation of "endurance," and what I found was this:
A patient, steadfast waiting.
I know I have not been the most patient or steadfast in my waiting, especially this past week. I really am over this whole being pregnant thing. Despite what fear or nervousness I may have felt a month or so ago, I'm more than ready to meet this baby. Even so, this idea of patient, steadfast waiting tugged on my heart and convicted me. I knew deep down that there is more joy and peace to be had than what I've been experiencing these days.
I've been so busy wishing I could fast-forward and make things happen in my own timetable that I haven't been running with endurance. I've just been running with frustration and anxiety.
So I asked God what running with endurance might look like for me in these coming days and weeks, seeing as how I still have no idea of how much longer I'll be waiting. And what he reminded me of was how each day is filled with important choices and decisions, ones that I'm either intentionally or unintentionally making.
This week, running with endurance looks like choosing to not shut down or check out when my daughter is calling for me. Or lifting my hands in praise when I am worn out and confused and even a little angry. It means letting people come alongside me and lift me up. It means putting the to-do list away and simply choosing to give my body the rest it needs. Making intimacy with my husband a priority when I’d rather binge-watch TV. Playing on the floor with my toddler when I’d rather nest and clean. It looks like trusting that this baby will come in perfect timing. And being quick to apologize when I neglect or snap at my family. It's the intentional decision to stop moping over my failures and to receive his grace. It's coming to the Lord with what's on my heart and staying rooted in his Word, regardless of how I am feeling.
Running with endurance looks like setting my mind on things above, choosing a kingdom-minded perspective, instead of allowing myself to be consumed by my flesh’s weakness and needs.
Here’s the thing: running with endurance doesn’t mean I’m not weak. Because I am. I’m fatigued and worn down and physically aching. My running at times may very well just look like me crawling on my hands and knees.
But despite my weakness, I am still able to move forward. I can choose to take those baby steps that keep me focused on Jesus and headed in the direction of all that the Lord has in store for me. And I'm able to do this because he holds a greater strength, one he lends to me and with which he carries me.
I don't know what you are currently facing or how all of this is meant to be an encouragement to you today. But I do know that we are not meant to do this thing called life alone. We not only have our spiritual forefathers to look to, "the great cloud of witnesses" (Hebrews 12:1), but we also have each other, our brothers and sisters in Christ, who are running a similar race.
Sometimes one of the best parts of being in a place of absolute weakness is discovering what it means to allow people to come alongside you and lift you up, to help you make it to the finish line. And this could look like any number of things.
For me this week, this looks like happily accepting the meals my mom has made for us so we can take a break from cooking, letting my husband take our daughter to the park while I stay home and sleep, asking a friend if I can spend the morning with her to keep my mind off the waiting, and being vulnerable with where I'm at so people can both encourage and pray for me.
I want to end this post by reminding you that no matter what you are going through or what obstacles you feel like you are facing on this race, there is no reason for you to do it all on your own. The Word is clear about the importance of community (Hebrews 10:24-25, Romans 12:3-13, Galatians 6:2, 1 John 1:7, 1 Peter 4:8-11 -- to name a few). If nothing else, I pray that in sharing this small glimpse into my life today, I have somehow encouraged you to allow the Lord to care for your soul, including the way he uses the people in our lives to meet many of our needs.
One last thing: You are doing an amazing job, mama. Even just your willingness to get out of bed and put your two feet on the ground this morning is a victory to be celebrated. Because this can be enough to change so many things. It's an opportunity to receive the Lord's mercies, which are new every morning (Lamentations 3:23), and to allow your weakness to make room for his strength.
I don't know what the race you are running looks like right now, but I am praying and declaring endurance -- and patient, steadfast waiting -- over you today.