In January I flew out to Colorado to do an interview with Focus on the Family. I was super nervous. And if you’re subscribed to my email newsletters you already heard my behind-the-scenes update about the awesome way my body decided to process that anxiety – hello epic nose pimple!
But as it turns out we had so much to talk about that Focus split the interview into 2 parts. I wanted to give you a little excerpt and invite you to come and listen – because we really dug into that hard question of trying to make sense of our identities as moms – and how not to fall into the trap of calling ourselves bad moms when we’ve had a bad day. And my sincere belief that motherhood is not an obligation but always only intended as a gift from the Giver of all good things. He loves us AS WE ARE, not for anything WE do but instead for who HE is and what HE has done.
Jim Daly, President of Focus on the Family: But how in your experience and especially where you were coming from, not wanting children early on and then, you know, God beautifully changing your heart in that regard, how did you come to grips with that? How did you come to terms with God, that it’s not about guilt-driven activity or guilt-driven anything. It’s about glory.
Lisa-Jo Baker, author of Surprised by Motherhood: I think the enemy is out to steal and destroy. And I think he hates motherhood, because of what it stands for and it’s such a mighty calling that if he can diminish it in the eyes of the world and then in the eyes of a mother herself, he wins.
So the guilt is such a lie a lot of time. It sneaks in there. You know, the sneaky, sneaky voice that whispers, you’re just not enough. You’re not doing enough. You’re a bad mom. And I think there’s a difference between having a bad day–and some days are just bad, okay (Laughter); they’re flat-out difficult—
Jim: That’s true for all of us.
Lisa-Jo: –and being a bad mom. And I think the enemy is very good at helping us skip the bad-day part and identifying ourselves as a bad mom. And in doing that, he steals. He robs the joy of motherhood from us and he also deceives us into missing the parable of motherhood.
The fact that I always tell moms, motherhood isn’t hard because you’re bad at it. Motherhood is hard because it’s supposed to be. God has actually designed it this way. He’s designed it because motherhood is the ultimate crucible for understanding what does it mean to lay myself down for somebody else. That’s why it’s hard (Laughing), not because you’re bad at it, but because it’s what God uses to refine us and to bring us closer to Him and to remind us that we need Him so desperately in those 2 a.m. hours. So, you’re not doing a bad job, mom. You’re right on track actually, if that’s how you feel.
Jim: That’s well-said and you know, your enthusiasm is coming through so (Laughter), hang in there, ladies. Make sure you’re gettin’ it done, but do it with a hopeful attitude. You mentioned in your book, Lisa-Jo, you talk about this concept of breaking up with yourself. What were you getting at?
Lisa-Jo: Yeah, so this was one of the big surprises for me. I kind of thought I could become a mom and then I’d just sort of continue my life as I was used to it, right, my sort of spoiled life that I didn’t realize was like a mini-vacation most of the time. You know, I could nap when I wanted to. I ate hot food. I went to the bathroom without anybody else, narrating what’s going on while I’m in there. (Laughter) You know, I had a certain degree of privacy in my life and if I wanted to go to the movies at the drop of a hat, I could.
And I was shocked, just to discover that a baby really can put an FBI tracking device to shame (Laughter) for how it controls all of your movement, okay. So, there are all these parts of my life I used to love that I suddenly had to break up with and it was so shocking to me. I mean, it was so shocking to me.
And you know, kids arrive and they huff and they puff and they blow your life down and there are all these little pieces and you have to pick them back up again and build a new story of who you are. Who am I? Who am I going to be? What are these kids gonna be in my life?
And you realize, I break up with all these parts of my life, that there’s nothing wrong with them. They’re not bad inherently. But I break up with them for something so much better. And that’s, I think, what Christ is always calling us into deeper relationship with Him.
So, I let go, kind of like Paul says, I let go of the things that hindered me and I run a new race, closer to Christ and understanding Him so much better. You know, all of my years of coming to Him with my whining and my worries and my anxiety, I understand for the very first time when I became a mom, you know, why Jesus would walk into the dark and offer Himself up as ransom, because that’s what mothers do. You know, without a thought, that is what we would do.
So, the beauty of motherhood is, we really get to experience what Christ has given us from the inside out. You know, we live it. We actually live it.