(So, this post looks long but I timed myself reading it and it will take you about 5 minutes. I’m nice like that. You’re welcome.)
You know, motherhood is an incredible journey and privilege, but when I look at mothers I often see a group of women who are plagued with insecurity, competitiveness, busy-ness, anxiety and perfectionism. I should know, I have been there as I have parented my kiddos and I fight to stay OUT of those places on a daily basis. And I do mean FIGHT. I have learned to be a brawler in 5 key areas of my life against the enemy, the world and my own selfish desires.
I’ll be delving into each area more specifically in the weeks to come, but briefly those areas are:
MASTER, ME, MARRIAGE, MOTHERHOOD and MISSION. And they are listed in order of importance. The following are seriously the questions I ask myself. Not EVERY day, but most days. Vigilance is part of being MamaStrong and I can’t do that without the prompting of the Holy Spirit and a heart that wants to obey Him. So here goes…
MASTER: Who is my master and what does that mean? Essentially, “master” represents the prevailing influence that I allow to rule me. And it can be very hard to recognize if I’m not intentional. What have I been focusing on lately? Anxiety? Bitterness? Netflix? Sugar? How am I spending my money and time? Are Jesus and His commands ruling me or am I running the show? My most pressing question is always, “Lord, am I yielded to you and your will for my life today?”
ME: How am I caring for myself? This area is listed second because I cannot pour out to my husband, kids and others if I am not cared for myself! Am I getting enough rest, downtime, friend-time, fun? Am I exercising regularly or have I fallen off the wagon (yet again)? Are my priorities straight? Have I taken time to plan my week well so I’m not putting out fires every day? I’m an only child and alone-time is critical for me to recharge so another question is “Have I spent enough time AWAY from my kids?”
MARRIAGE: Am I respecting and loving my husband in a way that makes God’s heart swell with pride? Am I praying for him? Am I on top of his physical needs such as nutrition, order in the home and SEX, SEX, SEX (I told you in my About section I was gonna be transparent and I meant it. Seriously, am I sexing him up?). Have I cleaned up the piles I tend to leave (I can be a slob and Hubs is a neat dude). Am I respectfully voicing my needs or stuffing them? Am I nagging him? Am I treating my husband in such a way he sees Jesus in me or does my behavior say to him “screw you?”
MOTHERHOOD: This section is a little different. There is one question I DO NOT ASK MYSELF. It is the question I think every mother is plagued with:
“Is it enough?”
I don’t EVER, EVER let that question into my heart anymore. It will kill my joy and infect my spirit with discouragement faster than that bug spread in “Contagion.” Lingering on it too long can push me into depression, too. So that one gets slaughtered before it even reaches my mouth.
Some of the questions I DO ask myself are: have I prayed for each child by name? Do I know where Satan is going to tempt them (I ask the Lord this and He usually points something out)? What are their weaknesses physically, socially, intellectually and spiritually and how can I take them to the Father? What’s coming up on the calendar that involves them (which, of course, is 90% of the calendar)? Which kid needs a date? Am I speaking their love language? Who needs to have a good sit-down and be called on the carpet for disobedience? Who needs to get off their butt more often and serve this family in a spirit of humility and gratitude?
MISSION: This has to do with God’s will for my life. My purpose. For months the Lord told me to start this blog and I hemmed and hawed out of fear. So the question, “What the heck am I going to do about the blooooooooooggggg?????!!!???” Was a common one for a while. This is also where I weigh all the outside opportunities and requests I have from friends, church, the kids’ schools, other people, etc. I love what Elizabeth George wrote in her book, A Woman After God’s Own Heart (which is incredible and I re-read it every year and you should buy it TODAY), “When you say ‘yes’ to something you are also saying ‘no’ to something else. Don’t let it be your family.” So I ask myself what I’m saying ‘no’ to… I also ask the Lord if the ways I have scheduled to spend the time He is giving me is how He wants me to spend it.
If I imagine my life as a fortress, these would be the 5 walls that I inspect regularly through prayer, discernment and counsel. I ask God to show me where the enemy is attacking (or where I am just flat out swinging the gate open wide for him and shouting, “Come on in! Make yourself at home!”), or where my resources are low and/or where I am possibly being neglectful. I have discovered that God is always faithful to show me these things if I am faithful to ask Him.
Now, I don’t want to give the impression I’m firing on all cylinders all of the time. There are days I look at my stretch marks and cry. And I mean hot tears filled with self-loathing. Days when I am so overwhelmed the only thing I long for isn’t Jesus but a cupcake (or three) and Netflix. Days when I look at my carefully filled out planner and piles of laundry and scrap the whole thing to binge watch Lord of the Rings. Days when I see my husband’s car in the driveway and I feel burdened with the knowledge there will be more needs to meet. But those days are now fewer and farther between. They do not define my life anymore like they once did. Vigilantly defending these 5 areas makes a real difference for me. And I hope it does for you, too.