3 Secrets to Joy

God has wrung out every last drop of the first six weeks of Vana’s life and left nothing to waste. As similar as my pregnancies were with both girls, I never could have imagined how different their newborn phases would be.

For Vivi, I had spent so much time in prayer throughout pregnancy. The outcome was quite possibly the easiest six weeks you could possibly have as a new mom. I was a much different person. I felt so much joy (no PPD as I thought I would have since I’ve been susceptible to depression in the past), no overwhelming anxiety. Ease with nursing (though it obviously still hurt and there was some cursing and crying), a great sleeping baby and bonus, tons of time with the Lord despite full hands. I knew it was from God because without Him, it would have certainly been a much different outcome.

For Vana, I spent lots of time in prayer. Maybe not as much. Maybe I got too confident or just had a toddler who kept me preoccupied many days. The outcome this time was a total God thing. But it didn’t come easy like the first go-around. I felt like I had to work for it. I’ll explain. I feel like a much different person once again, but this time, hard stuff came. I felt there were so many daily choices to choose joy, to choose to surrender my comforts, to choose flexibility. Many days I failed at this. But as I sit here now, six weeks in, I’m different. After tons of opportunities to choose to give life-giving responses, I’m starting to choose them.

Here’s what I learned:

1. Motherhood is a ministry – Duh! Shouldn’t I know this after having the first kid?? But really, when I thought of prayer warrior moms who would “train up their child,” I pictured a wise seasoned woman, like our pastor’s wife or even my mom’s grandma. Teaching Vivi about God has always been a big part of her life, but I’m learning to share God with her through LIFE and not just teaching. Like through the grace I give her, my  reliability by always being there, the joy I show even when she sees me hurting or tired, the peace I feel even when I want to be scared, the forgiveness I receive when I mess up too. This is big stuff y’all. This is kingdom work in my little girls. And my heart has been grateful for the opportunity to do this role of momma instead of seeing things as an inconvenience to MY life. 

2. Motherhood requires flexibility – Y’all, I like my alone time. Are you sick of hearing me say that? I feel like I’m always droning on and on about it. And I have fought for my time so hard throughout this season, but in the last few days, I’ve realized God wants me to surrender. I hopped in the bathtub (only my favorite way to relax) and had little sis in her bouncy seat next to the bath and big sis in her bed. Not one minute in and Vivi woke up and Vana started fussing. I literally sat in the bath and held out my hands and turned my palms up and surrendered it all to him. I knew if I got frustrated, I’d be miserable. And here’s the thing, can I really get mad at Vivi waking up or Vana being uncomfortable? I was able to change my ‘tude and have a good afternoon.

Another example: For the last week now, Vivi has decided to wake up at 6:30 instead of 8. This has meant no quiet time for me in the mornings. I told my husband how frustrated I was that this routine I’ve had for years was getting roughed up. He reminded me that Vivi normally stays in bed and plays, even if she gets up early, so I could still do my quiet time. I wasn’t having it though. I wanted my quiet time and I wanted it QUIET.  No little girl singing loudly on the monitor. It took me a day to realize how blessed I am that she doesn’t even know how to open her door to run in my room at 6:30. On top of that, later that day, my husband got home a little early and took the girls for a walk. I read my Bible and guess what? Reading in the afternoon is still as sweet as the morning routine. Val just needed to lighten up a bit and stop clinging to what I’ve known for so long. The next morning Vivi chirped bright and early again and I didn’t get all tense, knowing she was up. I enjoyed my “slightly louder” quiet time and thanked God for her love of reading books in her bed. 

3. Motherhood is transforming – God is using motherhood to change me. I don’t need to get frustrated at how hard it can be sometimes. The trials are making me stronger. It’s making me more capable and honestly, happier. I can’t tell you what this realization did for me when I started to see hard moments as refining ones. I saw the good in a bad day. And as much as I have tried to muster this up in the past, realizing that motherhood was not supposed to fit inside comfortable or easy really helped me to embrace it more. I like the person I am becoming and I know that without all the “opportunities” (AKA trials) motherhood can bring, I would not be the person I am right now. And for the record, I’ve enjoyed motherhood a lot with one but more than anything it was because it wasn’t super hard (good baby + big family). I like knowing that I’m stronger. I like knowing that I don’t need to dread tough days. I can have joy in them. That friends, is a major victory. 

Moms, if you are weary and find yourself frustrated more than joyful, pick up a copy ofTreasuring Christ When Your Hands are Full by Gloria Furman. It’s different than any other book I’ve read on being a mom and has had a lot to do with how God has changed me recently. And it’s a short read, but packed with goodness! 

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes from the book.

“By God’s grace I can resist the temptation to treat my children as interruptions to my will for my life. Instead, God enables me to treat my children as precious gifts He is using to shape me into his image according to his will for my life.”

What secrets have you discovered to finding joy in motherhood??

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