true life: i’m not a fitness model [a challenge to the moms of the pandemic]

This was it.

This was going to be the summer that we got it all under control. Routines, everyone helping around the house, some deep cleaning and organizing that couldn’t happen over a pandemic school year. My kids are at prime ages for taking on more chores and responsibility, and I want to be the kind of mom that teaches them well. I also planned on doing more with them. More outings, more fun, more memory-making.

Spoiler alert: literally none of these things have happened. It’s been a good summer, don’t get me wrong. Since last summer was anything but normal, like many others, we are doing a bunch of traveling. Up to New York for my sister’s wedding, the Outer Banks for the annual family vacation, and back up to Massachusetts to visit my mom and speak at a youth camp. You know the drill. Why unpack from the last thing when you just have to re-pack in a week? It takes us about five days to recover before we’re back at it with the next thing.

Why am I telling you all of this? Because none of my good intentions have come to pass. And just like every other time, I return back to the lie that each of us believe far too often:

I’m failing as a mom.

Let me be real with you. Uncomfortably real, maybe. The COVID 19 was far too true for me. I’m not talking about the virus; although, I got that, too. I’m talking pounds. A weight gain of literally nineteen pounds. I’m a short person. This was a lot of weight for me. More than any other year, I dreaded wearing a bathing suit for a week at the beach. But I decided ahead of time: I wasn’t going to let this affect me. I wasn’t going to feel self-conscious or not engage in activities with my kids because I would hate the candid photos of me. My silent mantra to myself was, “I am not a fitness model.” I’m serious.

These are just two tiny examples of the kinds of things we’re facing as women; as moms. The pressure is ridiculous. Insane, actually. But I’m not here to convince you that you need to cut yourself a break. I’m not here to tell you to be more comfortable in your body and who you are.

I’m here to point you to Jesus.

Parenting is hard enough; forget a global pandemic. And although it feels like we may be on the other side, things are anything but normal for us or our kids.

Too much has been asked of us.

But wait. Has it actually been asked of us? Or have we put it on ourselves?

The real question is: What have we been focusing on?

If that’s the question, here is the truth:

If we’re focused on all that we are not doing well, then we are not focused on Jesus.

Pause.

Go up. Read it again.

It is actually that simple. Think about the intrusive thoughts that plague you throughout the day, and especially as you lay down at night.

Why can’t I just say no to sugar?

I can’t believe I yelled at my kids so much.

I am never going to get anything done.

There’s no way other women are struggling this much.

I don’t know what happened to convince all of us that we are supposed to be amazing at all of it. Organization, discipline, housekeeping, careers, fitness, cooking… the list goes on and on.

Take a moment to honestly think: who told you that life was supposed to be this way? That motherhood was a rockstar event with gold, silver and bronze medals?

I would be willing to bet that no one has actually spoken those words to you. It is a smoke and mirrors effect; a lie straight from the enemy to keep us useless and isolated. And he uses anything and everything. Social media is really not our enemy. It highlights and puts pictures to the lies that are already swirling around in our heads.

Winning the war in our minds as moms is not about self-acceptance. It is not about self love, even.

It has to be about Jesus. His love. His acceptance.

Our self-love and self-acceptance runs out. Like, fast.

But the Savior? He is love and He accepted us thousands of years ago through perfect sacrifice.

This week, I held and prayed for a dear friend as she broke down and finally spoke out loud the fears and secrets she’s been holding as a mom with young children. The weight she was carrying was tangible. Before I even said anything or prayed a word out loud, she said she already felt better after voicing it all. What was the true weight pushing her down and dragging her into darkness? Shame.

Shame is the underlying thread woven throughout the lies of motherhood. Not good enough. Failure. Pathetic. Less-than. Weak. Inadequate. Shame screams these words over us and then whispers, “No one else feels like this.”

This post is for one reason only. Okay, maybe two. Besides pointing you to Jesus, this is what you need to know. As boldly as I can say this in black and white for you to read – EVERYONE ELSE FEELS LIKE THIS.

Everyone else struggles. Feels less-than. Wonders if they have what it takes.

The only, and I mean, ONLY, differential is the peace and the love of God.

If we are worried about doing a good job in the eyes of others, we will fail. Every time.

If we focus on pleasing God in our parenting, we literally can’t lose. He promises this:

My grace is always more than enough for you, and my power finds its full expression through your weakness.” [So Paul says,] “I will celebrate my weaknesses, for when I’m weak I sense more deeply the mighty power of Christ living in me. So I’m not defeated by my weaknesses, but delighted! For my weakness becomes a portal to God’s power.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 TPT

With God, the only way we lose is if we rely on ourselves.

We lose when we hide in isolation and silently measure our every day motherhood against polished photos of someone else’s motherhood.

We lose when we refuse grace. When we push to be powerful on our own without the power of the Holy Spirit.

But when we delight in those failures, the weak places, we open up space for God to be powerful in us. We push shame aside and throw our weaknesses in its face.

This post is useless unless you do two things:

Turn to Jesus.

Speak your stuff out loud.

Find a trusted friend, mentor, or counselor. Preferably more than one of those. You were never meant to carry this weight alone. When your weight hides in isolation, it strangles you. Bring it into the light. The light is where Jesus is.

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