Moms Need Intentional Perspective: Part I of the “What Moms Need Most Series.”
Before I dive into the specific topics I plan to cover in this new series, I feel compelled to begin with something I have found to be foundational to all the rest…I cannot stress this enough. And just to set the stage for what is to come, my plan is to cover each topic in this series in TWO WAYS:
- One is that of perspective and mindset, which I will lay a foundation for today.
- The other is practical action steps to help along the way.
(look at that, I rhymed.)
As much as I love talking about the practical stuff, perspective must come first. Recognizing the power of my own mindset has truly been life changing for me. God has given us the most amazing gift of our brain and the ability to choose and direct our thoughts. I believe that when we truly grasp this, big things happen. It wasn’t positive mindset gurus or motivational speakers who came up with this idea. It was God’s design. King Solomon wrote these inspired words in the book of Proverbs: “As a man thinks, so he becomes.” (Proverbs 23:7) I have found this to be true in so many areas of my life and quite honestly I’m still discovering the power of it today.
I hope that after reading this post you spend the next few days tuning in all the more to your own perspective at any given moment. I hope you are inspired to become intentional about how you see yourself as Mom and as a person; I encourage you to be self aware as you go through your days.
Unfortunately, a positive, healthy mindset does not often come naturally. Because of our sin nature, we most naturally default to negative, unhealthy mindsets. And if we’re unaware or simply not on our game with this, we can totally be caught off guard. Trust me, it happens to the best of us…
My embarrassing history: Many of you will remember that my parenting journey didn’t exactly start off smooth. I started out with a false assumption that I’d be a naturally awesome mom, and soon thereafter ate a big piece of humble pie. Parenting, it turned out, was really hard. And I…wasn’t a natural at all.
Looking back I realize that for the first few years of motherhood, I saw myself as a victim of everything happening that I had no control over. My husband was in his medical residency training so the bulk of the parenting responsibilities landed on me. We lived on an island with no family nearby, and I had no friends. Money was tight and I had little space or time to myself. Enter: Self pity.
I have this blurry memory (I’m so glad it’s blurry because it’s really embarrassing) of a particular morning when I was so weary and full of self pity that I found myself on the floor of my bedroom, grabbing at my husband’s feet as he tried to get ready for work. I was desperate for attention — for someone to acknowledge how hard my days were…How much I dreaded living what felt like the same day over and over and over again.
This was the rock bottom point of my parenting journey which I describe in Chapter One of Boy Mom. Thankfully, it was in this season that I got desperate for change and prayed specifically for God’s help to find a new way to think and live. This is when I made some important choices related to parenting; choices that I outline in Boy Mom that would radically change the trajectory of my sons’ lives.
This is also when I recognized my ability to chose who I could be — as a mom and a woman. I began to see the lies that I had been believing and learned to replace them with truth from God’s Word. (a few resources that helped me at the bottom of this post!) As I began to see how much I had been ripped off, I became more and more determined to “take every thought captive” (2 Corinthians 10:5)
In the same way that I had begun to develop a vision for the young men I wanted my boys to grow up to become, I also developed a vision for the mother — and person, I wanted to become.
And truly, everything began to change. I looked to women a season or two ahead of me who I admired and respected, and practiced emulating their attitude and behavior. I imagined the kind of mom I wanted my boys to remember me as, and started acting like her. I disciplined myself to quit comparing myself to other women. I memorized Bible verses that told me what God actually thought of me. And I started to believe them.
I touched briefly on this in a little sentence tucked into that First Chapter of Boy Mom, where I said, “I began to parent with more dignity and less emotion.” And I’ve been quite surprised by how many women have reached out to me to tell me that was actually their favorite line in the entire book. Then they typically ask: “But how in the world do you do that?”
I get it. Moms are weary. Their emotions often frayed. Especially when the kids are young, our days often feel more like survival than anything else. Dignified is not the first word most moms think of to describe themselves. Yet, that is the word that rolled off my pen (keyboard) as I wrote Boy Mom, so I had to look up its actual meaning.
According to Merriam Webster, dignity is defined as: the state or quality of being worthy of honor or respect. Yes. That is a very good goal for moms! Yet, you’re not alone if you would say that does not exactly describe your current state of motherhood.
But I really believe we all can become more worthy of honor and respect. If we choose to.
I whole-heartedly believe that we can choose:
- to be loving and patient, even when our kids are not.
- to walk through a messy house and smile, seeing signs of life in the mess, (and remind yourself that one day you are likely to have a clean, though very quiet house…)
- to focus on what works for our family and refuse to compare to what we see on Instagram, Facebook , or in the neighborhood.
- to laugh at things that could instead make us mad.
- to put on some makeup, and clothes that we feel good in.
- to rekindle romance in our marriage — to quit focusing on all he isn’t doing and do what we can to build a beautiful marriage.
- to see the special needs, learning difficulties, and generally irritating behaviors of our kids as opportunities to be used by God in a vital way.
- to think and pray about things that might fill us up — and then strategize for how to make those things a regular part of our week.
- to see our kids as precious gifts from God, and ourself as the one God has chosen specifically to raise them.
- to find joy, peace, contentment, and blessings in the midst of hard days, long nights, and rough seasons.
You can choose to be the kind of mom your kids will one day rise up and call blessed. You can choose to be joyful, life-giving, and kind. You can be “clothed with strength and dignity”…and you can learn to “laugh at the days to come.” (Proverbs 31:25) You can choose to see each trial as a little challenge to get through with as much grace, and even JOY as possible. You can choose to see motherhood as a beautiful, sanctifying, privilege.
None of this is easy, but God will give each of us strength when we ask with a humble, sincere heart. He is for us. He is near. He is cheering us on and waiting to fill us with what we need.
If your default has been grumpy or frumpy, self loathing or self-pity, may I challenge you this week to begin to catch those thoughts? May I encourage you to begin to self-assess your state of mind throughout the day? May I invite you to join me in prayerfully choosing different thoughts and wildly refreshing, new perspectives? Remember: They won’t happen by chance. You choose them!
Here are a few resources that have helped me in this process:
Now Friends, will you: Pray and ask God to show you some of the negative thought patterns that have become your default? They might be related to your value or worth…Your parenting skills, weight, intelligence, ability to keep up a home or yard or _____ (fill in the blank.)
Grab a journal and write down some of the things that you discover. Then find statements that are true to replace them. The Bible is full of practical advice and encouraging Words. Take some time to discover what God might say about you in His Word. Write scripts if it helps — to trade in your current thinking for new, honest, hopeful, helpful perspectives.
Practice these in a variety of circumstances this week, and see what happens. This will come up in each of the topics we are about to cover, so keep this exercise on your mind.
It’s a New Year friends! Some of you are desperate for change in many areas of life. Some of you have been needing an mental overhaul for a long time. I believe with all of my heart that this series could change your life. Because I’m sharing the very things that have changed my life.
I’d love to hear from you in comments! If this post encouraged you, it would mean so much if you would share it with your friends using the social media buttons below!
*Find the INTRO to this series with links to every post in it, HERE.*