It was a season of such raw anguish that I didn’t know if I’d ever be the same again.
It felt like I was crawling over broken glass during this particular stretch of my mothering journey. Every effort, every attempt to move forward only seemed to inflict more excruciating pain.
This wasn’t the first time I had sustained deep wounds. I mourned the loss of my mother — first to mental illness, then to cancer. The diagnosis of my son with cystic fibrosis. The loss of of our home and sense of security to Hurricane Charley.
But those wounds were out of my control. I could have done nothing to prevent them.
What made this season so acutely heartwrenching to me was that I believed I should have seen it coming. And I knew in my heart that my own personal failings had — at least in part — led to my current undoing. I was experiencing the natural consequences. And I was not alone. I was watching them play out in one of the precious ones God had entrusted to me.
There’s something particularly painful about seeing things you should have done with stunning clarity — when the most appropriate opportunity for that action has passed.
We all experience seasons of emotional woundedness. Our unique struggle may be related to our children, a difficult marriage, the loss of a loved one or some other traumatic event. The source of the heartache doesn’t change this fundamental fact about mothering: We’ve got to do it. Every day. Every moment. When our hearts are breaking. When our world is crumbling. When life seems unbearable. We’ve been given the amazing responsibility of breathing life-giving stability and instruction into our children.
Here are a few principles that helped me mother from my emotional hospital bed:
Pray and Stay in the Word. When we’re hurting, our impulse can be to flee from God. We may be angry. Or ashamed. We may not even know what to pray. But keeping in communication with God is vital. I had no strength. I clung to the promises of His Word when everything seemed dark, frightening and confusing.
Stick to routines. Eat dinner together. Go to church. Get kids ready for school. Even if it feels like we are just going through the motions, our kids gain strength and stability from these routines. And so do we.
Take mental health days. Several times during this season, I’d take the kids to school, then go back to bed. Then, I’d tackle life again the next day. I wouldn’t do it often. The temptation to stay there would have been too great. But much-needed days of rest can give us the physical and mental energy to climb our mountain again.
Focus on the short term. Often, in our seasons of struggle, we can’t see an ending. We can begin to believe that perhaps there is no ending. That can be profoundly depressing. I began to pray this prayer, “God, help me take each moment as it comes and give me Your wisdom and courage to face it.”
One day, we slowly realize that the pain is easing. We begin to see a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. Our healing rarely comes overnight — but it does eventually come.
When you’ve been “discharged” from your season of suffering, start treating others in pain. This dark season, as well as other mothering struggles have led me to reach out to moms with a deep, driving passion and empathy — through moms groups, Bible Studies, through this blog and in one-on-one coffee sessions with hurting mamas.
When we allow Him to do so, God can help us find the purpose in our pain and the redemption in our recovery.