Our family of three recently returned from a few trips in the last month where our two year old son slept in our bed most nights. It wasn’t a normal routine for him and we figured it would be a little hard to transition him back into his own bed when we got home. In reality, it ended up being much more difficult than we expected. He didn’t want to be away from us, day or night.
Our efforts to have him sleep in his own bed required 2 hours to put him to bed, then getting up 4 to 5 times a night when he would scream. He also learned the dreaded skill of climbing out of his crib during this time. I would hear a huge crash and scream at 3am that jolted me out of bed and hurried me to his bedroom to make sure he wasn’t hurt. Once the crying settled, then it was trying to go back to bed after an adrenaline rush. We were starting to feel like we had a newborn again and were already exhausted from the traveling we did the weeks before.
One particular night I found myself on the floor next to my son’s crib, rubbing his back after I had been in his room for close to an hour and a half. I felt myself getting angrier and angrier that he wouldn’t for the love of anything just go to sleep already! I wanted to be out on the couch watching TV or literally doing anything else besides being trapped in his room. It had been weeks since our regular schedule of his 2 hour nap and 8 o’clock bedtime and I was ready to have it back.
And that’s when I felt the Lord ask me: “Are you not physically able to do this right now or do you just not want to?”
Like many questions the Lord asks, it stopped me in my tracks.
My honest answer? Of course I was able. I had a deep well of physical capacity to accomplish the task at hand. I just didn’t want to.
As someone with a history of ignoring my own needs and boundaries, I had swung the other way on the pendulum where many things were about me and what I wanted to do. The balance between self-care and self-denial is always changing and I do my best to stay somewhere in the middle, but it’s hard!
Have you ever come across a mom who’s more joyful about motherhood than you? I’m talking about the moms who, through the good and bad, easy and hard, are still joyful about their work. It’s convicting and curious at the same time. Like, what am I missing here?
The Lord’s question to me revealed that CHOOSING to serve my family as a general attitude, no matter the circumstance, will bring me more joy than wishing I was doing something else.
In the past I have had a fear of becoming a slave to my family. I didn’t want to be run over or unappreciated. Can I really enjoy giving to my family without feeling like a slave to others?
I have since realized that I’m nobody’s slave if I choose to do it.
There were many times I had decided in advance that I didn’t want to read more bedtime stories or clean up the kitchen or cook dinner, even though I was fully capable.
Other than the Lord, you are the only one who truly knows the attitude of your heart. Choosing to serve your family isn’t about ignoring ALL of your needs ALL of the time. It does require you to have boundaries and it does require you to uphold them.
Practical Suggestions for an Attitude of Willingness
Asking a few questions when you’re not feeling like giving anymore helps get to the heart of the matter.
- Is this something I can’t do? Or something I don’t want to do?
Sometimes we have a hard day emotionally. Or a lot of hard days emotionally. Sometimes our emotional capacity is maxed out while we still have more to give in our physical capacity. It can help to focus on the area that we are strong in at the moment, physical capacity, rather than your weakness and complete the task at hand. Be sure to circle back to your emotional needs at another time when you are able.
2. What do I need to implement more or less of in my life so I can maintain an attitude of willingness?
Do I need less screen time? Can I do less activities outside the house? More planned time away from family? More time with the Lord? Can I hang out with other moms that have a heart of willingness and be encouraged?
Be Encouraged by the Word
Reading the Bible is to our benefit. Marriage and motherhood takes a lot of our grit and elbow grease to keep digging in. Our perseverance and passion need continual stoking. There are many verses we can cling to when it comes to giving to our families. Reflect on the scriptures below and consider how they apply to your circumstances.
- “You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure.” 2 Corinthians 9:7
- “She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands.” Proverbs 31:13
- “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16
In The End
The decision to serve our family is one that is noticed. Our family members enjoy our happy-hearted giving, just as we enjoy theirs.
It’s hard to keep the tension of self-care and self-denial – That’s what God’s grace is for. Together, we use our grit and God’s grace to stay in a willing place of self-sacrifice without killing ourselves.
My Prayer for Grit and Grace
Lord, I need your grace to help me dig in today. Help me want to give to others. Help me to see and think outside of myself. Lord, I know that sometimes I have a bad attitude about the work I do, help me to get to a place where I can enjoy this today. Give me reminders that my work is important and cherished by you. You see the grit I put in and appreciate it. Help me to know when I need to rest and when I need to dig deeper. Show me quickly when my heart has turned away from serving and steer me back towards loving my family with my whole heart.
About the Author: Hi there! I’m Lynnaea and I am mama to one little man named Remmik and married to my favorite guy, Dave, for almost 5 years! I enjoy fresh air in my lungs and anything with the mountains, trees, or ocean. I was raised in the Pacific Northwest but have lived in the beautiful town of Homer, Alaska for the last 3 years. You can find more of my writing on the Rosebud Blog.