I am often asked the meaning behind “Grace Broke Mom.” I wish I had a simple response! If I had to break it down, I suppose it would be a 2-fold answer:
I have five kids. The last one, Baby Grace, broke me. And as I lived broken, His grace broke me again.
I wanted four kids. I did NOT want five kids. After trying for two years to conceive baby #4, we were ecstatic when we discovered she would be coming. We declared God’s perfect timing and relished in His bigger plan and praised Him for adding to our family in precisely the way He saw fit. But finding out I was pregnant with #5 did not bring about the same overflow of praise! Honestly, it brought about a flood of four-letter words and confusion and a whole bunch of fear.
It took a lot to combat the feelings and thoughts that plagued me during the majority of my pregnancy and I don’t know if I did a very good job. In hindsight, I wonder if I was really dealing with Antepartum Depression, but I didn’t even know that was a thing. All I knew was that these feelings were not how a good mom feels about the baby in her belly. These feelings were not in line with what I believe to be true about the character of God. And as the months dragged on, I found myself wishing I had a better answer when my support system would ask me how I was progressing. Usually, the answer was, “I’m mostly not,” and the guilt of that reality was more than I could bear. I fought for growth. I fought for healing. I fought not to let the depth of my agony become my truth.
Of course, God is faithful, and in His goodness and grace, He taught me so much in that season. He revealed to me many deeply-rooted lies and fears that I had believed for years about my abilities (or lack thereof) as a mom. God, in His piercing kindness, spoke to me about my lack of faith and distrust, my disbelief in His goodness and my pride in believing that I knew better than Him and that by choosing to give me three girls to parent He was essentially making a huge mistake. It was very heavy feeling the weight of my sin, but I have never felt such immediate freedom. He revealed my darkness and pulled me out as I wept on my bathroom floor. The heartbreak of realizing the truth I had exchanged for these lies made me sick. But even as I lay there weeping, His tender voice spoke life and joy, and He brought me to my feet with the freedom to “go and sin no more.”
Baby Grace was born just a couple of weeks later and we welcomed her with love and celebration. We were all so happy to have her. Her full name means “Day of the Lord’s Grace”. It still brings me to tears.
But it wasn’t long before I realized that I was not in a good way. You can read the full story here, but I was in a deep battle with Postpartum depression. Again, I was at a loss. I kept thinking things like “I knew I couldn’t do 5”, and wondering if I would ever feel like myself again. I cried more than I knew I could as I watched my older children grow to fear me. I noticed that the things I loved, the people I loved, the community that was usually my lifeline, become more and more unfamiliar. I didn’t fit anywhere. I couldn’t connect to anything.
I remember one of my worst “breakdowns” happened as I was folding laundry and I just snapped. I was filled with rage and felt like I had no control over what was coming out of my mouth. I didn’t know I was capable of such a venomous tone of voice. But my kids were getting a front-row seat to the monster I had become. I don’t remember what I said. I don’t remember the circumstances. But I remember the tears. I remember crumbling to the ground shaking in horror and disbelief and gut-wrenching shame. “This isn’t me. This isn’t me.” was all I could say. Like a crazy person, I sat there rocking, shaking, repeating those 3 words wishing that I could wake up from this nightmare. I remember my 3 sweet children hugging me and crying with me, all of us completely broken.
“He Rescued Me Because He Delighted In Me” – Psalm 18:19 (ESV)
I wish I could point to a specific moment – a specific remedy – when I began to get better. I can’t. I just know that in small but undeniably significant ways, over the year-and-a-half-long struggle with PPD He calmed my fears with His perfect love (Zeph. 3:17). And what I have learned is this: I am thankful for the brokenness. In all of our suffering. In all of our pain, and insecurities, and grief… I am thankful for the brokenness. Why? Because it gives an obvious choice: choose to depend on Jesus for every breath in the midst of the storm, or drown.
I learned what faith is in that season. Nothing I felt as my “reality” stood in line with what I knew to be true about the character of God or the identity He has given me as His child. I felt alone. I felt hopeless. I felt guilty. I felt ashamed. I felt afraid. I felt tired. None of that agrees with a life that has been redeemed by our Great God. So I had to choose to believe what I knew to be true.
He promised He will never leave (Deut. 31:6). He is the God of Hope, Who fills us with all joy (Rom. 15:13). He has already paid the price to remove my guilt (Isaiah 53:4-6). Because He knows me and knows my trials and intercedes on my behalf, I can boldly approach the throne of God and receive mercy and grace (Hebrews 4:16). Because He loves perfectly, I have nothing to fear (1John 4:18). He is my strength, this is a season, and He is still good (Psalm 42).
It’s incredible how much I have come to love being honest about struggle. I am not a perfect parent, but it’s not about me. All of life is all for Jesus. He will have his glory and everything I do, whether on the mountaintop or in the valley, is all to make Him known. My kids get to see me depend on Jesus. They get to watch me rejoice in the beauty of repentance and sing the song of Miriam (Ex. 15).
The prayer is that they will also learn that seasons of struggle often come, sometimes one after the other, but the truth of joy remains. Joy is found right smack in the middle of pain and sorrow. Joy is not the absence of sadness, but it is anchored in the reality of who God is – a reality that is immutable.
So, GraceBrokeMom is a story of learning to see our imperfections as opportunities for grace. It’s a place where we can be honest about our struggles as parents, and as women (an men!) and realize that we have no one to impress, nothing to prove, and that we are right where we need to be to experience the irresistible grace of a great, great God, who empowers us with everything we need to dance in hope through the growing pains.
Love you all….
*post originally published on REAL Women Ministries.