I realize that the title of this post does not jive with the idea of being joyful. Feeling defeated doesn’t make anyone happy. Stay with me. It will make sense, I promise!
I’ve been reflecting on how often those words, “I can’t do this,” have been in my head or come out of my mouth since becoming a mama. It’s not something I choose to say if I take the time to think about it, but in the heat of battle, that phrase just seems to fly out. And I know better. I know that God is bigger than anything I could ever face. And I know that when I turn to Him, victory is guaranteed.
I know this firsthand. Here are some things I thought I couldn’t do, and how God proved me wrong:
Handle giving birth by c-section. Besides the fact that this was not in my plans, I was absolutely terrified. The thought of having a giant needle stuck in my back and actually being cut open paralyzed me with fear. Even after the fact, I would get scared thinking about what my body had been through. But the Lord brought me through the procedure, recovery and fear; giving me peace about how our girl was born.
Function while not really sleeping. I have never done well with sleep loss and was somewhat of a nap queen. I knew this would have to change, but I was not prepared for how much of a struggle it would be just to keep standing long enough to change a diaper, or stay awake long enough to feed the baby and not drop her. I was such a zombie, it was only by the grace of God that I functioned as well as I did. I was afraid that I would feel that tired forever. But nowadays, I run on less sleep than I ever imagined possible and barely take a nap (except on Sundays). Only God could have made that possible.
Drive my car. I didn’t have a fear of driving, but of the giant spider that ended up in my car when Little Bit was just a couple months old. I don’t do spiders. I yell for someone else to deal with them. And if there’s no one around, I throw something at the spider and leave it for someone else to clean up. I call people to come rescue me from spiders. I called my BFF to get this one out of my car, but it could not be found. For all I know, the crazy thing is still in there. But the Lord gave me the courage to drive home when I was shaking with fear, and to get back in the car when I needed to.
Enjoy food in any way, shape, or form. After we came home from the hospital, I could barely eat. I would choke down a carnation instant breakfast in the morning, and it wouldn’t stay. I nibbled on snacks as I could throughout the day, just because I knew I needed to eat something. I wouldn’t even be hungry until around supper time, and then I could only eat a little before I felt sick. The nausea was way worse than anything I experienced when I was pregnant. I don’t know if it was something physical or the anxiety of being a new mama, but it was horrible and seemed to last forever. But the Lord brought me through it. Somehow I still had the strength to do what I needed to do, and now I can eat normally, like nothing ever happened.
Feel normal. After giving birth, I didn’t even feel like the same person. I would look in the mirror and think, “Who is that?” I thought and felt things that I never had before. Things I had enjoyed before just seemed pointless because I was too tired to care. I wanted to be a good mama and felt like I was failing miserably because I had no idea what I was doing. But the Lord brought me out of that dark hole of despair.
I think my biggest problem during all that time was fear. I had the notion that as soon as our baby was born, I would automatically be the joyful mama who had it all together. I had been preparing for so long! But when all the things happened, I didn’t have answers and was so afraid of doing the wrong thing. I woke up every morning with a feeling of dread.
Then I started reading the Bible and praying with my newborn babe. To my shame, during this chaotic period, I had let my time spent in God’s Word and talking to my Saviour dwindle. I had let the “busy-ness” of being a mama consume me. I almost let Satan steal all my joy. I had allowed myself to reach a spiritual low in which the normal trials of motherhood almost defeated me. But I turned to Jesus, because I know He is the great Healer. We would read and pray every day until I could feel the fear and despair lifting, and God’s Spirit comforting. I found myself clinging to Jesus more desperately than I ever had before.
And I know that was the point. I had been trying to rely on myself and what I thought was my knowledge of how to be a mama. I had not been seeking the Lord like I needed to. I just tried to take off on my own without consulting the Instruction Manual. The Lord allowed me to experience a darkness I never knew existed, so that I would fight to stay with Him in the Light, and so I would remember that He has all the answers. So now instead of saying, “I can’t do this,” I am learning to cry out to Jesus, “I can’t do this without Your help.”