Finding the Secret of Contentment in the Trenches of Motherhood
Being a mom is like running through your own personal obstacle course, but leveled up to “extreme.” A friend of mine once said it was like “being in the trenches.” When you’re in a place like that—out of breath, sweating, miserable, worn out, maybe cursing under your breath—where do you go for help?
I wish I could say that I went to church or asked for prayer, but instead, I went to all the mainstream books and blog posts about parenting. When I wasn’t finding the answers I really needed, in my desperation, I turned to the Bible. Eventually, I landed on Philippians 4, written by the Apostle Paul. (He won me over when he called himself the biggest sinner. Now, that’s someone I could relate to.) He talked about how he struggled to find contentment. That it was so hard he considered it a mystery. A secret even.
I desperately needed to find contentment in my motherhood circumstances. But how? The thing is, Paul was a man that said he was content no matter what, all while inside the walls of a prison, chained up, beaten, mocked. If he could find contentment, so could I. (And so can you!)
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” – Philippians 4:12
Paul—who I affectionately refer to as my “BFF from 2,000 years ago”—said it was going to be hard. He tells us that we’re supposed to put into practice all that we’ve learned, and that then the peace of God would be with us. He tells us that we’re supposed to think about things above (things that are lovely and praiseworthy) while we are struggling. Rejoice in the rough patches. Sing to a God who is always listening, despite wanting to scream and yell.
We aren’t supposed to pray our way out of the trenches. We are to be sanctified by them—and be glad.
If we want to experience the secret of contentment in all circumstances that Paul wrote about, then we need to be sanctified by our hardships. When we’re deep in the trenches of motherhood, the last thing we should do is pray that the time will end. We aren’t supposed to pray our way out of the trenches. We are to be sanctified by them—and be glad. We need to let the hard stuff set us apart, by letting the Holy Spirit fill us so full of peace that it comes out of our mouths, eyes, ears, hands and feet. It’s a supernatural process that is painstakingly slow. But it begins when we see our hardships as a chance to flip the mirror of self-doubt onto a God who has it all under control.
God wants us to use our circumstances to glorify Him. Even if they’re less than desirable. He doesn’t want us to show the world that our lives are perfect but, rather, show our lives just as they are, and be glad.
You and me? We’re exactly where we need to be. The Holy Spirit will produce the tools that we need when we need them. Stay the course, mama. You’re doing what you were set apart to do. Raising littles is no joke. We are being sanctified right there in the trenches. Keep your eyes up and forward. Rejoice.
When something is hard, we have to work to master it. Like a skill.
Easier said than done, right? Training our brains to look for the good in the chaos is so not easy. So let’s look at this motherhood journey like we’re working on a skill. Something hard that we have to work to master. A skill can take trying and failing 100 million times before we get a glimpse of what a transformed mind can look like. (And, even then, we may fail again).
Peace is a skill.
Mothering is a skill.
Being glad even when on an extreme-level obstacle course is definitely a skill.
When something is so difficult to come by that it’s considered a secret, it’s okay that it’s hard. There is beauty in struggle. It’s okay to show and tell that you’re struggling. We’re showing our children (and the world) we can be joyful while we are trying to get skillful. We don’t have to dwell in the struggle—we can set our minds to things above. Never give up on the continued effort toward contentment.
“I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” – Philippians 4:13
Here’s the good news: You can do it, guided by God’s strength. Here’s the even better news: You aren’t alone. We’re on this obstacle course together. Need some extra support and encouragement? Subscribe to the Mom-Dentity newsletter, and let’s level up together.