It’s been such a joy to experience how God has used my article for Risen Motherhood, “Looking for Rest in the Wrong Places” to open eyes and break chains in Jesus’s name. (If you missed it, read it here).
My story resonated with you. You, too, could see that the modes you sought when looking for rest in your life only led to more self-doubt, accusation, and weariness. Through God’s grace, he opened your eyes to the blind spot of social media in your battle against sin. You saw that people, places, and pixels have not provided the nourishment you crave when overwhelm takes over---only Jesus can fulfill the promises of peace and perfect rest.
But, now you’re wondering, how? How do we practically turn our “hot mess” minutes into moments of prayer and praise?
While I am far from the perfect example, allow me to share with you how God has taught me to do this.
Stopping to pray may seem obvious, but it’s what I pray for that has flipped the script in my heart. Instead of crying "God help me!" I instead focus on his attributes. I thank him for his presence and mercy and generosity; how I feel stressed but he sits enthroned in heaven, not worried in the slightest, the span of his reach so encompassing that the oceans pool in the palm of his hand. Then I turn to gratitude, and thank him for my messy house, the fridge of food not yet made into a proper meal, the children I asked him for who may or may not be screaming at me, etc. Turning my attention to what I have been given---rather than what I wish I had, like a quiet house---has worked to re-start the moment. It turns my gaze upward onto the character of Christ. Sometimes I pray out loud, which has opened opportunities with my kids to talk about the gospel.
Our situations do not need to change to have God's perfect peace. All we need is Him.
A lot of the time I struggle with naming my emotions. I know I feel stressed, but that one feeling encompasses a lot of secondary issues. Therefore, it's imperative for me to pause and name the actual cause of my emotion so I can properly treat it.
There’s a very useful acronym for this. HALT. Am I hungry, angry, lonely, or tired?
For example, I get “hangry”. Very. Often. I might be getting frustrated with my children’s noise level simply because I have ignored my body’s requirement for food. Feeling rushed for time is sometimes linked to my deeper issue of how my lateness will be perceived by others. That’s a heart thing and needs to be addressed with right thinking. During the dinner hour, I might say I feel tired, but the real issue is that I’m lonely. I know this because my fatigue simply vanishes when I see my husband walk through the door (glory, hallelujah!).
I get honest with my kids: “Mommy is feeling very hurried right now and I’m having a hard time”, “I’m feeling upset because I’m hungry”, “Please hold your questions until later. Mommy can only handle one problem at a time right now”. It’s good for our kids to see that mom is a human with needs too. And humans are limited. So we look for strength in our limitless God.
In an overwhelming moment, sometimes I turn on a worship song, but the ones for the kids that sing pure scripture. I can't tell you how many times the music I play for them has helped me in my own spiritual life! (If you're looking for recommendations, Seeds Family Worship is my go-to.) These songs will also remind me of the truth in God’s word, his provisions, his power, and the bigger picture of His kingdom while I’m stewing in worry over my own.
If it's over-stimulation that's getting to me, instrumental music is my choice, either classical or hymns. I’ve been known to blast a banger every now and then to change the room’s mood. Its difficult to be grumpy when your kids are dancing it up with you in the kitchen!
Practically, I've deleted Instagram and Facebook from my phone. I tried giving myself boundaries for many years but they never worked long term. The best thing for me has been to delete it for days, then weeks at a time. I think before this article came out, it had been months! I've kicked the habit of going to it, so now when I do have it back on my phone for a day or two, I'm not instinctually opening it. Another option is to delete your profile entirely. I've had friends do this and never look back. You can still stay in touch with your fav ministries or faith influencers by joining their mailing lists or subscriptions. (Like mine, for instance! 😉 See my Main or About pages). This way, you can see their content when you're ready to read and receive it well.
It's funny, but colors are more vibrant now that I’ve stopped staring at my screen. My stomach is more settled without the perpetual wheel of scrolling. My mind has settled without the bombardment of ideas or the world’s problems becoming my own. Yet I see more, hear more, do more with what’s directly in front of me. I don’t believe we were meant to know as much as we know now. Its a joy thief to see the bones in another’s backyard while forsaking our own. No, we shouldn’t bury our heads under blankets and ignore the world, but its ok to choose just one or two causes to advocate for. There’s enough of us to share the load.
We all struggle with sin in different ways. Social media was a place where I was being fed lies and it was very covertly tearing me a part. Ask the Lord to reveal the places in your life where sin is enslaving you. There is freedom in Christ!
Remember, it’s not our job to be a perfect parent. In our imperfections, we have the opportunity to model what life in Christ looks like---falling to sin’s temptations, confessing our sin, then being forgiven and restored to our merciful Savior. In his life, death, and resurrection, Jesus gave everything to restore us to himself. He will not hold back now. Jesus gives of himself freely to those who ask.
Do you, like me, struggle with naming your emotions? Or believing lies when you’re already down? What other ways can we turn our messy moments into prayer or praise? What do you need to eliminate from your routines to foster a dependent life on Christ? Let me know by commenting below.
Together with you in the mess and in His grace,