Tuesday, October 22, 2013

surviving by grace


I read this blog post today by Wendy Horger Alsup over at her blog, Theology for Women. 
I just stumbled upon the post but it was so encouraging to me. 
I really resonate with her "survival mode" thoughts. 
When we brought Owen home from the hospital my world flipped upside down. 

Yes, some time has passed now (almost 7 months!),  
but I would say even now I am barely getting out of survival mode and in recent weeks 
I've been really hard on myself as I see other brand new moms 
who seemingly have life with there newborn babies already figured out. 
I think "What is wrong with me?", 
"Why did I have such a hard time adjusting?", 
"I'll never be able to have many kids, I can't even handle one!"
But my thoughts have focused on myself and not my God who gives grace and strength!

This is an excerpt from her post, 
Give US Grace – parenting advice for moms of infants and toddlers

 Read the whole post, H E R E

I was at peace for the first few months with a newborn—I knew those first months would be dominated by feeding issues and trying to get my child on a schedule. But I didn't realize that the survival mode I was in in those early months would actually go on for years. I thought I should be progressing faster than I was. Part of my problem was that I had a number of friends with similarly aged daughters who communicated much faster with their mom than my boys did with me. The other problem was that my little ones did not take in a new environment by observation, but by exploration. I've noticed some little ones who hang back and observe in new environments. But my boys walked in a room, noticed a door, and start opening it and shutting it to figure out the hinges. How does that outlet work? What's a fire alarm? How does this thing I've never seen before taste? It was pure survival in our home for a good 4 years. Sure there was nurturing. There was training, correcting, and management. But the overarching theme of it all was simply SURVIVAL. 

As a mom finally out of that stage, I recognize the symptoms in my sisters in Christ right in the middle of it. Stress in our marriages. Stress in our friendships. And so much stress just in our heads and hearts. In light of all that, I have a few points of advice I wish someone had shared with me.

1) Preach the gospel to yourself. You will not survive this stage without meditation on all God has said over you in Christ. Chances are your figure at this stage isn't going to help your identity. Your homemaking skills aren't going to help your identity. If you are relying on your external successes at this stage of life to give you meaning, you are sunk. But let this time, when you can not keep up a facade, reveal your true heart, and then turn to God in that desperation. He has a good plan for your life, and part of that good plan are these years of simple survival nurturing your young children.

2) READ YOUR BIBLE. I talked in my last post about this. God promises supernatural strength through His Word, and you KNOW right now you need supernatural strength. You may only have 5 minutes (even if you have more time, you likely don't have the brain power to process more than that). The Psalms bring me so much comfort at stressful seasons of life, primarily because the majority of the Psalms were written during stressful seasons in the Psalmist's life. His cries to God echo mine in the stress of life, and God's answers to him always encourage me.

3) Don't let women at other stages of life pressure you with expectations of what you can accomplish at this stage. When your children are little, forget color coordinated meals. It's ok if there's laundry in the basket or your bathroom needs cleaning. If you have a choice between doing dishes and taking a nap, use paper plates and take the nap. Rest helps so much with the stress of life at this stage. You will be better able to nurture your children and keep them safe if you've had a nap.

Eventually, you'll emerge from this stage. Your children will start communicating with you. They will reach a point developmentally where you can start communicating the essence of gospel grace to them. But you'll never communicate it to them until you first get it for yourself. And the early years with infants and toddlers, as we are stripped of our abilities to do for ourselves what we once easily did, are a prime time for us to understand God's grace to us more deeply than we ever have before. 

1 comment:

Kate Murray said...

This is bittersweet Janaye. Sorry to hear you've had a bit of a struggle, but what it is producing looks so glorious too! Thnak you for showing us wha tdeath-to-self-to-raised-alive-in-Christ looks like in this season :)
I'm seriously coming to you for wisdom in a few years !

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