My name is Melissa and I have two toddler boys. I have been married eight years to my college sweet heart and we live outside of Rockwall, TX. I’ve been a Christian since I was seven years old, but my motherhood journey rocked my faith to the core. Having kids made me feel like a different person. My alone time and self-care became minuscule or non-existent. I believed that is what happens when you become a mom: You pour yourself into your kids and you are fulfilled by what they give back to you. (Though honestly, all mine usually give back to me are germs coughed directly into my eyeballs.)
So you might be thinking, why is she wanting to share what she has learned as a mom when she’s only been a mom for four and a half years? Well, there are a few things I have learned that have completely changed how I think of motherhood and how I think of myself. Things I wish I knew when I was a lonely new mom who was trying to do it all. And I feel called to share them with you in the off chance it might change your life too!
When I was pregnant with my second son during 2020 I was struggling with depression but didn’t realize it. Part of it was because of the “unprecedented times” we were living in, but also because of the upcoming newborn season. Don’t get me wrong, babies are such a blessing from God! But my experience with my first newborn season was filled with anxiety, postpartum depression and feelings of hopelessness.
Looking back at those years, I wish I had a strong sense of my identity in Christ. No matter how hard I tried to do it all alone I can see now how God was right there nudging me along to rely on Him. I told myself lies like: I should be so fulfilled being with the kids all the time and not struggling to find alone time. I am only worthy loved if I can do everything perfectly. Good stay at home moms are able to keep their houses clean and never yell at their kids, so I must be failing at being a mom. Do you tell yourself lies like this about being a mom?
So What is “Identity in Christ”? The world looks for their identity and reason for living in the things and people around them. If you are a Christian, your identity comes from Jesus.
First Lie: You identity and reason for living comes from being a mom
Truth: I am a child of God/I am a new creation
The lie I was believing was once I became a mom nothing else mattered. That my identity and reason for living comes from being a mom to my kids. But the truth is so much more than that! What does the Bible say about who you are? The Bible says you made in God’s image, a child of God, chosen, forgiven, important, accepted and loved to name a few.
John 1:12 says ‘But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,“ Your identity as a child of God should inform role as a mom.
An blog post called “A Christian Mother’s Identity” says “If you are a Christian mother, you are also a child. The identity of “mother” is a beautiful one, it is a gift from the Lord, but it is an identity that is tied to this life. There was a time before we were mothers, and there will be a time when we will no longer be mothers. But our identity as children of a heavenly Father is eternal.”
I found that when my heart believed this lie I also didn’t rely on the Holy Spirit for power in how I responded to my husband or kids. I lived in a place of constant stress and not rest in the new identity Christ has given me. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” I can root myself in the identity God has given me as free from my old impatient, anxious, controlling self.
Read this list of “labels” we can claim in Christ. Which one jumps out at you and why?
I am a child of God (John 1:12)
I am a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17)
I am a friend of Jesus (John 15:15)
I am created by God to do good. (Ephesians 2:10)
I am free in Christ (Galatians 5:1)
I am chosen and loved (1 Thessalonians 1:4)
I am the light of the world. (Matthew 5:14)
I am not ruled by fear. (2 Timothy 1:7)
I am forgiven. (Colossians 2:13)
I am God’s possession. (Titus 2:14)
I am free from the desires of the flesh. (Galatians 5:24)
I am a light in the world. (Matthew 5:14-15)
I am secure in him. (1 Peter 1:3-15)
I am loved by God. (1 John 4:10)
Second lie: You identity comes from being perfect
Truth: I am created by God to do good/I am free in Christ
When my first was five weeks old I stopped breastfeeding and started bottle feeding. I felt like a failure. Instead of realizing my worth does not come from how well I could feed by child, I dove headfirst into researching the best formulas and bottles. Since deep down I felt ashamed I didn’t breastfeed, and I resolved to do everything else in my control “perfectly.” I believed my worth came from my actions as a mom. I didn’t ask for help and felt isolated and alone in my struggles with this. I compared myself to the highlight reel on Instagram. I saw other moms doing great getting and able to take their kids out of the house.
Looking back at those years, I wish I knew that I couldn’t do it by myself! No matter how hard I tried to do it all alone I can see now how God was right there nudging me along towards Him. Through the depression I couldn’t see that God never left. He was next to me in each sleepless night. I know now that my worth is not in how well I “mom”, if my baby sleeps through the night, or I breast feed or bottle feed.
Ephesians 2:10 says,“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
God created us to do good works, not perfect works. I think my initial reaction to this verse is that my worth can’t be rooted in what I can do for my kids.
A Zondervan Academic blog says, “I should begin by listening deeply to the story of God’s gracious salvation in Christ. I begin by seeing myself in this story. I begin by leaning back into God’s great love, wealthy mercy, and incomparably rich grace. I let the truth that God has saved me by grace be the foundation of my life.”
Another area I’ve struggled with perfectionism is my quiet time with God. I have been able to claim freedom by remembering this: one minute of bible study is better than none.
Matthew 11:28-30 says “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
It doesn’t say come to me when you have your act together. It says come to me exactly where you are. It’s okay that this season of life looks different from when you were single or newly married. I’ve found listening to an daily audio Bible really fits well into my season of being a mom to littles, and I’ve had to give up that perfect image of a quiet time to God.
Instead of trying to be the perfect mom to our kids, what is one thing you could give over to God?
Lie Three: Your identity comes from your failures
Truth: I am chosen and loved/I am not ruled by fear
My pregnancy during the pandemic was marked by a time of isolation. I was stuck in a loop of fear of the unknown. I looked for answers on social media and the news when I could have found peace in Jesus. 2 Timothy 1:7 says “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
But God met me even in that dark place to show me he loved me. First, my breach baby boy turned at the last minute. Theo was born naturally (after having a c-section with my first) and in the darkness of 2020 I beautifully and tangibly felt Gods love for me when I held my baby for the first time.
After all of those big lessons from 2020 I am still nowhere near perfect. My motherhood journey is still filled with SO many mom fails. For example I let my kids go to Sunday school with marker on their faces so that I could be on time to life group. I think the difference now is that those daily mom fails don’t take me down a rabbit hole of self-doubt and depression. And I think it comes from speaking these truths over myself and re-writing my inner dialogue.
A blog post from Equipping Godly Women puts it like this: “Are you clinging to God in the ups and downs of your day? Do you run toward Him instead of away from Him when you make mistakes? To stay rooted in God when the waves kick up, being proactive is key. I’ve found that if I set aside time to focus on our BIG God in the morning, I’m more likely to be clear-headed when the little moments of my day try to knock me off-center.”
I wish I would have realized that true self-care is caring for your soul. 1 Peter 2:9-10 says “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
On the Love & Mother Podcast Episode 2, the host, Kait put it well: “God also wants us to realize our worth, treat our bodys as a holy temple and rest in the fact that we are created in His image. I thought, in order to be being a loving and serving Christian woman I needed to completely neglect my needs. My physical, mental and spiritual health suffered in the name of serving.”
I hope my testimony encourages you and makes you feel not alone! I hope you walk away from this with a new sense of your identity as a mom. I encourage you to ask yourself: What is one thing you could tell yourself when you were a new mom?
I wish I could say: It’s okay to slow down. You need to give yourself grace. You are not alone. Life can be simple. You are worthy of love. God is never going to leave your side.