Every week in the month of May we will be featuring an article on Grace-Filled Motherhood. To see the full series, click HERE.
by Heidi St. John, author of Becoming MomStrong: How to Fight with All That’s in You for Your Family and Your Faith
In an effort to compensate for my insecurities, I became the consummate people pleaser. This eventually escalated to the point where the very thought of offending anyone set my heart racing. My cries for help were stifled by pride that masqueraded as confidence. I longed for strength but found weakness. I was aware that something inside of me was in need of healing, but I was too scared to let anyone see behind the curtain long enough to find it.
When, after eighteen months of married life, I learned that I was pregnant, my panic and fear escalated. I needed someone to turn on the light and tell me the truth about who I was if I was going to navigate motherhood with any hope of success. I needed another mom in my life.
My anxiety reached a boiling point when I was in my thirty-eighth week of pregnancy. Jay and I had just finished our last childbirth education class—you know, the one where they tell you that if you breathe right it won’t hurt. Yeah, that one.
One by one, the women got up to leave and passed Nola, our childbirth educator, on the way to the door. Nola hugged the sweet mamas and kissed their tummies as they left, making sure to give each of the dads-to-be a high five as she assured them that all would be well.
We liked Nola. We knew her from church, and the past few weeks had given me confidence that she was someone I could be real with. Maybe, just maybe, I thought, she can help.
I waited until there was no one else left in the room before I made eye contact with her. When she sat down next to me, I couldn’t hold my tears back. As I stared at my big, full-term belly, I began to cry. “I’m afraid! I can’t do this!” I sobbed.
“You’re going to be fine,” she said, her eyes soft and comforting. “Your body was made for this.”
Of course, she had no idea that birthing the baby wasn’t what I feared. My fears went much deeper. They threatened our future as a family and robbed me of peace. My father’s profound disappointment in who I was had shaped the way I saw myself and convinced me I was destined to fail.
I felt weak. I feared I couldn’t be the kind of mom I wanted to be. I feared I was destined to give my child the same upbringing I’d had. I feared I would lose my temper, even to the point of injuring the precious baby I carried. But worse than all these, I feared my baby would grow to fear me the way I had feared my father. Behind the curtain, I was almost desperate for someone else to be this baby’s mom.
As I cried, the curtain lifted, and—one little piece at a time—all my weaknesses were exposed for Nola to see. And that’s when it happened: God met me. There, in my weakness, He met me.
Nola laid her hands on my belly and looked at me. Her heart seemed to ache with mine. “Oh, Heidi!” she said. “Don’t you know who you are? You are new! God has made you new! You are a new creation, and your baby is the beginning of the healing that is coming, if you’ll let God shine His love into the deep places in your heart. You. Are. New. Do you believe that?”
I wanted to believe it. I was desperate for God. I cried out to Him, aware that something inside me was beginning to break free. In that moment, when I let just one other person see the woman behind the curtain, God began a healing in my life that continues to this day. I didn’t fully understand what Nola meant at the time, but I knew I needed to cling to Jesus. If I was going to be strong for my child, I needed to accept my weakness as an opportunity to find God’s strength. I needed that strength to invade my heart, to comfort and heal me.
Driving home that night, my faith began to take on new meaning. For the first time, I began to believe that God could heal a generational sin in my family. I knew that the only chance my daughter had of being whole was for me to cling to my Creator. God was calling me out from behind the curtain and into the light.
A few weeks later, after twenty-six hours of labor, our daughter Savannah was born. No feeling in the world can compare to the wave of emotions that wash over a mother when she sees her child for the very first time. Instantly, this little girl held my heart. I was captivated by her simplest movements, and I loved the way she looked at me. As I looked at her, something stood out to me that other mothers might not appreciate: my daughter was not afraid. Her heart was as open toward me as mine was toward her. It was miraculous.
God was using the miracle of motherhood to open my eyes. I began to see God’s love for me in a new way. I’d never experienced such raw love. As I stared at my daughter’s beautiful newborn features and marveled at her every movement, I sensed God whispering, This is how I see you. On frustrating nights when the baby wouldn’t sleep and exhaustion threatened to undo me, I clung to the promises of a Father who loved me unconditionally. He said, “My mercies will be new again tomorrow” (see Lamentations 3:22-23).
And they were.
Becoming MomStrong: How to Fight with All That’s in You for Your Family and Your Faith by Heidi St. John
If you’re like many Christian moms today, you’ve been reading the headlines and watching the rapid-fire changes in our culture with frustration and fear. Let’s face it: Moms today are facing questions that previous generations didn’t even see coming, and even our right to determine what is best for our own children is under fire. Popular speaker and blogger Heidi St. John (The Busy Mom) believes that today’s mothers need a special kind of strength. We need to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. We dare not rely on human strength for the battles we’re facing right now. In Becoming MomStrong, Heidi has a powerful message just for you—the mom in the midst of it all. Through encouragement, practical prayer points, and authentic “me-too” moments, Heidi equips you for a job that only you can do: to train your children to hear God’s voice and to walk in truth no matter where our culture is heading.