January 9, 2013

Thriving When You Feel Like You're Just Surviving

Shortly after I had my first baby I remember telling an older friend that I aspired to "do" motherhood the best I could. What I meant was, I didn't want to just "survive" each stage anxiously longing for the next thing. Being a pro-active parent was what I was talking about. Staying ahead of the game, so-to-speak. And as I discovered, and I'm sure this friend of mine wisely kept silent knowing that I would learn it on my own, being pro-active was a lot easier to talk about than actually do. I remember saying something foolish like, "I don't want to simply survive these days with babies and children. If I ever feel like I'm surviving, than something must be wrong." I wanted our family to thrive! I wanted to perpetuate healthy eating habits, create engaging learning opportunities, and minister God's Word into their little lives every chance I got.

Well, 4 babies in 5 years helped shape and change how I view surviving "babyhood." 

It's just plain tiring. And sometimes, survival is in order.

There's nothing glamorous about sore hips during the last 2 months of pregnancy, and then the birth experience, and then the actual caring for the infant. Engorgement, latching difficulties, sleep deprivation, balanced with cooking and cleaning and caring for other toddlers. How can this not be classified as survival? It was success on some days if we all made it to bed in the evening alive and fed. No fancy crafts, no creative playing with each child separately, no exercising, no homebaked goodies, no Bible stories... we were just alive.

What I came to realize is, these difficult, "survival-days" when a good day meant our physical needs were met and everybody was alive at the end of the day, didn't mean we weren't thriving simultaneously. Because through all of the blood, sweat, and tears, the focus wasn't lost.

As a family, we love each other, because of God's grace. As a couple, my husband and I can look at each other at the end of a haggard day, and still smile because (1) we know this is temporary, and (2) we are relying on God's strength and grace to get us through.

So even though many of our days may feel like we are surviving, we are thriving also, because of God's gracious empowering through the Holy Spirit.

I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In the world you have trouble and suffering, but take courage--I (Jesus) have conquered the world. John 16:33 NET (emphasis and parentheses mine)

I'm a person of high ideals. I want formulas, patterns, ways of doing things that will produce a guaranteed result. If parenthood were that simple, we would cease to need God. Trusting Him, would no longer be necessary.

We thrive, because we've realized that in our weakness, physical and mental, in this huge adventure I call parenthood, God in His grace is stooping down to our level and helping us realize how much we need to be in constant communion with Him.

Being in relationship with my Creator----that is Thriving


  1. I feel so much better now!! No, seriously. Some days I feel so guilty because I don't have that "thriving" feeling...I don't do those things that my nurturing side says I should...because after being up all night with my teething baby just doesn't lend the energy like I need. I am so glad I am normal! Thank you!

    1. It's funny, because I wrote this about 2 weeks ago. And when it came time to publish... I needed to read it so badly too. My daughter is going on 7 weeks with a bad cough, is now on antibiotics for bronchitis, and we're all a little ready for her to be better. :) God works in wonderful ways.

  2. Thank you so much! I'm on day 4 of the flu and I'm definitely in the "just surviving" mode. My son has had chick fil a for dinner twice this week and has watched so much TV it's ridiculous. I've spent more time on the couch and in bed than any other. I'm exhausted and it's been a challenge just to shower every day. So yes...I really needed this.

    1. Oh my heart goes out to mommys who are sick. We really can't afford to be sick. We need super-immunities! But, perhaps in our sickness God works the most powerfully. His grace is sufficient, His power is perfected in our weakness.

  3. Ah, love covers so much, doesn't it? I think God smiles down at us and all our plans and at the same time rains down grace. Sending grace and love your way, sweet friend.

  4. I so appreciate this post. In a day when we are always looking for the next best book or formula that will make motherhood less difficult and more rewarding, what truly "gets us through" in victory is not surviving the best we can...but communing with the Lord! Thank you for that reminder, and for sharing vulnerably! (And, thank you for linking up with GraceLaced! I always love seeing you around!)

  5. This is such a sweet post and so real. How thankful I am for God's amazing grace in being a mom. Enjoy these days because they go by pretty quickly. I am so thankful you shared your post at WJIM and have decided to feature you. Have blessed week.