Grace, Growth, and Motherhood: Three Lessons I Wish I’d Known Sooner

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that motherhood is a profound voyage. It’s filled with equal parts elation and exhaustion, love and learning, chaos and calm. As a young woman, I would hear tales from my married friends that painted a portrait of life after children as a narrow, joyless existence. No travel, no aesthetic comforts, and apparently, an unrelenting disorder.

But when I got married and cradled our first child in my arms, I was determined to rebel against this somber narrative. With every ounce of energy and strength, I endeavored to keep our life as unchanged as possible. Long road trips, leisurely Saturdays, houseguests, and home-grown dinners – we had them all. But the one thing I didn’t account for was the unending fatigue.

Today, three decades later, I wish I could sit down with my younger self over a soothing cup of tea. I would reassure her that saying ‘no’ could be empowering when timed right. I would encourage her to become comfortable with the uncertainty of life’s small details and to deepen her faith in God’s control over every phase of life. From my own journey of growth and grace, I’d offer her three pearls of wisdom that I wish I’d known from the beginning.

Lesson 1: Make the truth your home

Every day we’re presented with a choice: Will we dwell on the positive or negative aspects of the day? Instead of fretting over uncontrollable circumstances or the world’s negativity, can we surrender our anxieties to our Almighty God? The Apostle Paul invites us to take “every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

But this isn’t a DIY project. In our spiritual warfare, we aren’t left unarmed. Our shield and sword lie in the truth of God’s word. During the darkest of times, I discovered that soaking in the gospel’s truth was more invigorating than any energy booster. By giving more room to the truth than inner turmoil, we can refocus our minds on the eternal and inspire our hearts for each new day.

Lesson 2: You are more than what you do

Motherhood can transform even the most gracious into rigid perfectionists. Choices about diapers, feeding, and education – all become points of division and judgment. I, too, wrestled with such dilemmas and let them define me.

But I’ve come to understand that your ‘job’ does not encapsulate who you are. Whether you’re a stay-at-home mom or working professionally, whether you’re a meticulous planner or a spontaneous adventurer, there’s no formula for ideal parenting. Your worth isn’t tethered to your performance. There was ample grace at the time of our salvation. Why should we think it’s suddenly inadequate?

Lesson 3: Build habits you can fall back on

When we’re weary, emotionally drained, or simply preoccupied, we lean on our habits. Establishing strong spiritual practices provides a mental sanctuary that steers your heart toward its true focus. I wanted my children to perceive me as stable and dependable, mirroring the steadfastness of God.

Memorizing Psalms, soaking in the truth of Romans 8, and creating a habit of confession and grace allowed me to navigate the trials of motherhood. Your faith journey doesn’t end with your children growing up. We continue to grow in wisdom, grace-dependent, sticking close to the truth as our only secure haven for our hearts and mind.

The journey of motherhood is certainly not the only path to sanctification, but its challenges prompted me towards a deeper reliance on God. I’m still a work in progress today, and for whatever lies ahead, we can take comfort in the boundless grace God provides. It’s a journey not just about raising children, but also growing in faith, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything else.