By Janet Perez Eckles, Crosswalk.com
I pressed ice on my forehead and turned my face toward the kitchen cabinet, away from my seven-year-old son. I bit my lip, trying to suppress my tears to avoid upsetting him.
But tears still fell. They blended with the blood from the open gash. Not sure if my silent cry came from the physical pain, or from the emotional anguish that my blindness caused. Running into open cabinet doors or other objects in the house became a daily and painful routine.
But even more painful was the fact those tasks that before when I could see, were simple. Now blind, they were nearly impossible.
“I can’t do this,” I complained to God.
How did He expect me to be a mom? Unable to see? How could I interpret the expression on their faces? How would I know if they hit the ball at their game? Or how could I check their homework, or tie their shoes?
The prognosis of permanent blindness made my misfortune even darker. I was doomed to have kids who were sadly deprived.
As those thoughts tormented me, I sat on the couch, self-pity sat beside me. We both headed full speed down the road to depression.
And that’s when God put up a stop sign.
That signal directed me to pause, take a deep breath and re-evaluate my life as a blind mom. I took a closer look at my attitude and saw the real reason for my defeat. It wasn’t that I was physically blind—it was that I was blind to the possibilities, to the potential and to the power of God at work in me.
Insecurities Plague Us All
Blindness might not be your source of insecurity as a mom. But if you take a quick peek in your heart, you might see uninvited insecurities for other reasons. No one might notice, but you do. And that’s because in silent moments, they taunt.
And if they do, you’re just like the mom next door. She’s replaying in her mind the heated interaction with her kids. She’s trying hard to mask her feelings of inadequacies. It’s not easy because regret and self-condemnation follow her wherever she goes.
Looking for relief, sometimes eating a brownie will ease the emotional discomfort. But then guilt and shame team up to attack during sleepless nights.
If you’re familiar with that scenario, good news, you’re normal. But normal doesn’t mean victorious. Triumph over insecurities comes when, as you’re speeding through the challenges of motherhood, you obey these five stop signs:
Stop Sign #1: Stop the Guilt
Guilt Is like extra pounds. Right when you think you got rid of them; they show up again. They’re fed by self-doubt notions: I was wrong. I was too quick. I wasn’t quick enough. I messed up. I lost again. I should have done more. I should have said less.
We end up living in a jungle of regrets. And trying to look cool, we swing from one tree of activity to the other.
No wonder we drop in bed, exhausted with no energy for hubby or anyone else. But we wouldn’t admit that to anyone. Instead we try to hide what burns inside. And since the super woman role failed, thoughts of guilt multiply.
But there’s an end to this cycle. Freedom from it comes when we declare before God what David declared in Psalm 32:5 (NLT): “Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide them. I said to myself, 'I will confess my rebellion to the LORD.' And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.”
How sweet is the freedom when we know God forgives our flaws and failures. We throw guilt into the garbage disposal of life. And now cleansed, each morning turns into a new, fresh beginning.
Stop Sign #2: Stop Trying to Figure it out on Your Own
“This mom stuff is so much harder than I expected,” a mom of 3 little ones said. “I don’t think I can handle it one more day. What am I doing wrong?”
“If they know it all, why don’t they get out and see what life is like,” a mom of two teenagers said. “I tried everything. Why am I losing control of my kids?”
No matter the stage, no matter the age or situation, if you open the hood of motherhood, you find challenges. Lots of them.
But what if each of those challenges became the channel that took us away from our crooked path? The path paved with frustration because we can’t figure out what to do.
But what we can do is learn this mom-saving truth:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6
No more crooked path of negative emotions. No more futile efforts to understand the complexities of motherhood. Instead, when you changed the umpteenth diaper, acknowledge God’s presence.
When you wipe another runny nose, recognize God’s help. And when you face another sleepless night either monitoring a little one’s fever, or waiting for that teenager who’s hours late to walk in the front door, acknowledge that you’re not alone.
God is right beside you. He will direct your thoughts. He will form your words and will mold your attitude. He will also give you the kind of reaction that honors Him, pleases His heart and brings peaceful sleep to your nights.
Stop Sign #3: Get Rid of the Compare Snare
What? Did you see the picture she posted? Her kid is not even 12 years old and is up for her black belt in Karate? And she’s cute on top of that. My daughter can’t even make the gymnastics team.
Caution: if that’s you, the compare snare is waiting for you. What does it do? It becomes the enemy’s best weapon—his lie that repeats you don’t have the best anymore. You lack something others have. You or your kids don’t measure up.
And you end up giving yourself a “D” in the Mom report card.
That’s what we do. Deep down we’re evaluating ourselves. And silently, we review all the sacrifice for our kids and hope to get at least a B+. We long to raise kids that excel. And our deep, deep desire is that we don’t mess up so our kids will be okay.
If that’s your desire, here’s the formula to achieve it: “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:3-5
Our challenge: turn away from social media and put down that device. Instead, devise a plan where you spend a few minutes a day delighting in the Lord, and let him shape the desires of your heart.
Stop Sign #4: Halt the Over-Commitment
“Hurry up.” “We’re late.” “I told you to put your shoes away, now you can’t find them…you’re making us late.”
“That’s it, I’m leaving without you.”
Have you said one of the above more than once a day? Welcome to the over-committed club! Most of us are members because we let school, commitments, and homework fill our day. The activities pile up like dirty dishes in the sink.
No wonder statistics show that kids today are more stressed than ever before. They interact less with others, they behave according to the junk they eat, and observe parents who display frustration that often turns to anger.
The Israelites did the same thing. When the Egyptians chased them, they complained to Moses while they shuffled through that desert. We complain too. We rant about how tough life is.
That’s why Moses gives us moms the same instruction he gave the Israelites: “Moses answered the people, "Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still." Exodus 14:13-14
God said what He would do. And in turn, He tells us what we should to. He will fight on our behalf. And what should we do? Only be still.
In order to be still, we need to delete some activities. Too many of them act against us. So, we declare freedom from the over-commitment and make time to be still. In that stillness of the moment, while we inhale His presence is when triumph begins.
In that calm heart is where He pours His reassurance. Then the stronger ‘you’ will surface. And while the rest of the world is chased by stress, you will know another piece of motherhood called peace.
Stop Sign #5: Make a U-Turn
If only my kids listened. If only my husband helped more. If only I could quit my job. If only I were thinner, had more money, less problems, more time, a bigger house.
Those thoughts pop up often like annoying ads on line. They do because we’re programmed to move up and accomplish more. But when that becomes the focus, trouble is at the door. The if-only syndrome robs our contentment quicker than a flick on our cell phone.
I know this first hand. My blindness put me in that mindset of unhappiness. How often I’ve said, “If only I could see.”
For a long time, I thought if I had sight, my problems would go away. Imagine my surprise when I learned that sighted moms also faced unhappy moments and for some of them, disappointment was their close friend.
But my own happiness came back when I made a U-turn. I headed away from the “wishing it were” and instead, found the secret to joy. The kind of joy that doesn’t depend on circumstances. It doesn’t depend on the fact we can see, have stellar kids, or divine husbands. But depends on the spirit of gratitude.
Gratitude is the first step to greatness, someone said.
It proved to be true when I woke up one morning and heard my three little boys in the kitchen laughing. I thanked God for my hearing. When they laughed with me, I thanked God for the sense of humor He gave me. And I thanked God for the memory he sharpened so I’d learn other moms’ phone numbers for rides to soccer practice. I became a gal of gratitude. Thankful for all I could do.
When I cooked, He gave me creativity to identify each ingredient. And became thankful for the ability to taste as I prepared spaghetti sauce.
I even thanked God when I couldn’t read teacher’s notes because that forced my seven-year-old to learn to read ahead of his peers. And I thanked God for the patience He gave me to care for him and his little brothers.
Years swept by. And I don’t hesitate to have my grown sons see tears in my eyes, because they’re tears of joy. I remember how He changed me. Rather than believing I didn’t measure up. I looked instead to the measure of God’s love. The one that carries His promises: what you lack, He will provide. What you cannot do, He will do. And when anxious moments drain you, His strength will be enough.
Janet Perez Eckles is an international speaker and author with a passion to teach and coach you to thrive in relationships and reach personal and professional success.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/monkeybusinessimages