When You've Had a Week From Hell
This past week has been a week from hell. I’m talking about super frustrating bouts of teething, days of missed naps, long nights of screaming and crying, and all sleep training being thrown out the window.
I know some of you mamas are right there with me. You know what I mean when I say I’m losing my mind along with my sleep and teething is the devil’s tool to destroy families.
At times like these I can feel the enemy crouching in my doorway, plotting against me and my family. He's laughing at my attempts to calm my screaming child because he knows my patience is wearing thin and my flesh is weak. He’s enjoying the tension that this has brought between my husband and I, and he’s hoping one of us will finally snap. To be honest, we’re not very far from it and there’s been a few regrettable exchanges already, which may or may not have included a few swear words and screaming “SHUT UP!” at the top of my lungs in my baby’s face.
Here's the thing: In my head I'm the perfect mom who'd never yell at her kids and especially a helpless baby, who will always do the patient, selfless thing and respond with gentleness and love.
But in my heart lies the truth -- that I have a short fuse, that I do yell and scream and get angry, that I hate feeling out of control, and that the ugliest side of me can present itself in the blink of an eye.
Becoming a mom was a marker I had put down on the timeline of my life as the point when I would finally pull myself together and be all the things I wanted to be. Expectations were high. But as it turns out, so is the fall.
I want to beat my flesh, but because I have found that I can’t, I beat myself up instead. My heart is crushed under the weight of shame and there are moments when I wonder if I even deserve to be a mom. Maybe God shouldn’t have blessed me with this wonderful family. Because surely he sees the way I’m treating them and he’s shaking his head in disappointment. I know I’m disappointed.
But today was the beginning of my slow crawl out of this week from hell. After a long night of a delirious baby refusing to sleep as my delirious husband and delirious self attempted to soothe her/not slap her, we woke up exhausted and I ran to my safe haven, the one place where I knew I could meet with the Lord and begin to decompress.
I pushed the stroller at the park, worship blaring through my earphones and sinking into my heart, and I let myself shed a few tears beneath my sunglasses as I passed by the same people I see almost everyday, people with their own hurts and struggles and no idea about mine. It took all of my self-control to not pull the stroller over on the side of the track, fall to my knees, and let sorrow overwhelm me.
I have so much sorrow because of this wide chasm between who I am and who I want to be. I have sorrow for my family who suffer because of my sin, my mistakes. I have sorrow for the baby who has already forgotten that her mama screamed in her red, tear-streaked face because I know she deserves better than that and she doesn’t.
“Make me holy!” I wanted to cry out to Jesus again and again. This was and is the prayer of my heart, the prayer of my motherhood journey that’s still only just beginning. I want to be made holy, to have the broken parts of me patched up and to have this ugly selfishness replaced with a love so beautiful it transforms everyone around me.
But what I knew the Lord wanted me to hold onto this morning, the thing that I often fear is too good to be true, is that I have been made holy. I’m already there. I stepped into holiness the minute I told Jesus that I want to receive his forgiveness and follow him all those years ago, and I’m still wrapped in that holiness as I live my messy life now, throwing fits and breaking down and hurting the people I love the most.
Maybe you, like me, have had a week from hell. You fell right into the enemy’s schemes and did all the wrong things. You feel far from victorious. Mama, please believe me when I say that the moment you lift your eyes to heaven, the Father’s eyes will meet yours and they are full of tenderness, love, and understanding. I think we forget that he’s a parent, too. He can give you the strength to keep moving forward — at least for today — and he can give you the patience to love your baby well — at least for right now — and then he will want you to trust him to do it again tomorrow, too. And yes, he can be trusted.
I’ll be honest. I don’t always feel like the Lord is on my side or that he’s fighting for me. Sometimes I wonder if he’s fighting against me. Surely he could’ve magically made the baby go back to sleep last night. He could make the teething pain go away (and oh, how I have begged him!). He could make me that perfect mom, the one who'd never yell at her kids and especially a helpless baby, who will always do the patient, selfless thing and respond with gentleness and love.
But he never expected me to be the perfect mom. He doesn’t expect any of us to be the perfect mom. And if we would just allow him to dismantle this idea of perfection in our head, we would see that he never intended for us to be crushed under the weight of guilt and shame either.
He intends for us to be free to walk in the victory he already has for us. The victory of a mom who doesn’t have it all figured out but knows how to trust in the One who does. The victory of a mom who loses her temper and battles with her flesh but knows that she can run to Jesus and that grace wins in the end. The victory of a mom who is being changed moment by moment, day by day, even without realizing it.
The Lord knows what we need and maybe this week, it was a screaming baby, a sleepless night, a wrestling match, and a meltdown. Whatever the case, it is good when we are brought to our knees, the posture of a desperate mom. This is where we are humbled and transformed. This is where we’re reminded of the Lord’s amazing grace and where we may even begin to see that that holiness we’re so eager to acquire has never been out of reach. This is where victory begins.
The baby might not stop crying, but our attitudes can be different. We may feel physically exhausted and depleted, but our love can be refilled and our souls can be refreshed. And if we try only to fail again, then at least we can be reminded of this truth:
We’re not perfect and certainly not in the world’s eyes, but we are covered in holiness, being called into victory, and becoming the woman and mother the Lord has designed us to be.
Therefore since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us (Romans 5:1-5).