My early days as a mother weren't easy for me.
Are they easy for any of us? Is ANY stage of motherhood ... easy? I haven't met one yet that didn't KICK MY TAIL TO THE MOON AND BACK, AGAIN.
But, those first days, months, years - when I first became a Mom - I was a walking hot mess.
I just struggled through so much of it.
- Why am I happy and sad and happy and sad and happy...?
- How am I supposed to keep ANYTHING clean?
- Why am I so mad at my husband for sleeping all night when I'm awake?
- Am I the only mother who doesn't have her crap together?
- How am I going to keep my toddler alive while I feed the baby?
- When, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, does it get easier?
I looked up at God, eyes filled with hot tears and had a lot of "Why and How and What and When" questions about anything and everything because it was all so new to me and I felt like I had to figure it all out or I was going to permanently ruin my young children, serving them life sentences in a therapist chair: "My Mom was a crazed lunatic. How much time we got?"
And, I pictured God, looking down at me and shaking his head with stern disapproval at all of my failings and emotional breakdowns and missteps and ungratefulness because FOR THE LOVE, SARAH, DIDN'T YOU BEG ME FOR CHILDREN and I wondered why He gave me these little creatures if He KNEW I couldn't handle them.
And, then one day, when my two oldest were newborn and baby, I read this verse, Isaiah 40:11, for the very first time as a mother:
"He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
He gently leads those that have young."
And, I broke down. I fell onto the floor and wept.
He gently leads those that have young.
Well, that's me. I have young. Me, Lord. See me down here? I have young. And, I'm so tired and I'm so hungry for approval from you and them and those gawking strangers over there and everyone who is watching me flail about and I'm DESPERATE for leading and wisdom and I don't know what I'm doing.
But, OH GOD, is it possible that You - Creator of these tiny creatures and Lover of my soul - aren't sitting there judging me but
are ... gently ... helping me find my way?
Could this be?
This truth? It penetrated my very being and it was HOPE in my heart and peace to my soul.
Mamas and friends - He isn't grabbing us by the upper arm and jerking us to and fro. He isn't yelling and rolling his eyes and He, unlike us, never loses patience. He is gently leading us.
He is helping us.
He is leading us.
He loves us.
And, He is doing it all. Gently.
He is tender to our questions and merciful in our fears. He is loving our children when we aren't lovely and He is keeping us from harm when we don't understand why He won't let us wander away to find less than His best for us.
The day I first read this verse, motherhood changed for me. I stopped looking at God as my disciplinarian, and started seeing Him as my strength.
My friend. My gentle and wise Shepherd.
If He would die to save me, would He not walk with me, too - leading and prodding as I limp worried and wander and ask and struggle?
He did. And, He does.
So moms like me, moms with questions and fears - when we look up at God, arms stretched out in worry and eyes heavy with mother love poured out and "Oh, God, I don't know what I'm doing here", wanting to know how to make it, how to manage it all, how to love our children well.
He carries us close to His heart.
And, He is gently leading us.