Inside: a closer look at keeping joy in hard parenting seasons
Sure, sacrifice is always a part of motherhood. But you know those seasons that just really take it out of you? The ones that would look completely different without the instruction and favor of God? THOSE are the seasons I’m talking about today.
For some moms, that season may be all the time. Maybe you have a child with special needs. Maybe you’ve been blessed with many children, and they rotate going through those really tough seasons. If that’s you, I want to start off by encouraging you as you read. The days are long. You’re exhausted. Every bone in your body may be begging to quit. But you just keep trucking because if not you, then who?
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
Galatians 6:9-10 (ESV)
You will reap a harvest. What kind, only God knows.
A firmer reliance upon our Lord?
A flourishing relationship with your children?
Maybe (likely) even all of the above. But we can know that any time we are doing what the Lord through scripture has called us to do, there will be fruit of one sort or another.
Let’s trust Him and His word enough to endure and do what He said in the face of the (sometimes seemingly mountainous) difficulties.
Keeping Joy in Hard Parenting Seasons
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12:1-2 (NKJV, emphasis mine)
Stick with me. I know this isn’t the main focus of this verse. And yet, during my own difficult parenting seasons, THIS is one of the verses I’m often reminded of.
…for the joy set before Him, He endured…
Jesus is our example in all things. And for the joy of saving His people, He endured far worse than anything I’ve had to face. Yet, during my own struggles, I tend to take my eye off the prize and lack joy because of it.
What is the Joy Set Before Mothers?
When we have a poor attitude, motherhood can feel like a thankless job. An exhausting job. A draining job. And no one seems to see all the little things that go into being “mom.” It’s easy to get hung up on feeling unappreciated. Or like what we’re doing doesn’t matter. Or like we’re doing it all wrong anyway. It’s so easy to get ensnared by a bad attitude in this mom life.
Our children are watching. They know when we are joyous to have them around and when we lack joy. They know when we’re annoyed with their presence and when we’re excited to see them in the morning. And all of it is affecting our relationship with them.
THAT is the joy set before us in motherhood: our relationships we’re building with our children and the eternal fruit that can grow from them.
Relationship is Key for Discipleship
In the Word, we see God’s design for the family and how He uses it to bring about His will and His glory. In the family, one of our greatest tools for accomplishing the will of God is discipleship.
Our relationship has a direct impact on our discipleship. In fact, there is no discipleship without the foundation of a good relationship. Is it our goal to raise our children to the glory of God? Are we training them up? Then we need to be intentionally sewing into our relationships with them without becoming weary and impatient.
In the world, it’s almost trendy to be a tired, annoyed, complaining mom. Women have become internet famous by talking and joking about the lack of joy they have in motherhood. They are applauded for complaining about their children to the world.
But here is what God says:
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.
Children are a blessing, a heritage! They’re the legacy we leave behind and our greatest work. Train, sharpen, and discipline them so you can send them out with the way of God in their hearts. That’s the goal and something that the world just doesn’t understand.
During these seasons of greater sacrifice, it can be easy to get into fleshly thinking instead of focusing on what’s really important. But we can persevere by looking to the joy that will grow from all this hard work. There is no guarantee that our children will come to Christ even if we do train them up in His way to the best of our ability. But we have much to go off of in scripture that shows it’s normative for God to redeem the children of believers.
The parent-child bond is one that the enemy loves to attack because it’s one that is so important and can be such a pure representation of God’s love for us.
Sacrificing to protect that relationship means that we’re tending to our bond with our children. Like tending to a garden. So even during these harder seasons full of plowing and weeding and digging out stones, we can have joy in knowing the fruit that will come from it.
The Example We Can Look to
Going back to our example of Jesus, He sacrificed Himself to atone for our wickedness and secure our adoption into the family of God. He was able to endure the cross–Him who knew no sin BECOMING SIN, drinking the cup of God’s wrath, and facing the shame that belonged to His beloved–because of the joy of what His sacrifice would accomplish. He would save His own from the bonds of sin and death, securing our redemption and eternal life in Him.
In our homes, our sacrifice means sewing into our family bond, putting the love of one another above our own needs, and creating a family where our children can trust us to understand what they’re growing through and guide them into truth. Not only does that bring them closer to us, but it also shows them the love of God. It gives them a picture to compare to the Savior and loving Father we’re trying to teach them about.
Thank God for His grace! Because without Him, that would be a tall (and impossible) order. But with Him, we have the grace to grow.
What season are you facing right now? If you’re struggling through a hard one, know you’re not alone! And you’re doing blessed work. One day you will reap a harvest. Do not give up!
Until next time,
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