It had been a hard day, running too many errands with two small children. My three-year-old didn’t understand why we couldn’t buy every toy his tiny hands could touch. And he insisted on climbing in and out of the grocery cart, which led to whining when I stopped him.
I was not a happy mama and wondered how all the other moms in the store seemed to know what they were doing. Their children listened when they told them no, and they had on cute matching outfits too.
I wondered how in the world those women pulled it off with a smile. I could barely get a shower, get my kids dressed, and get us out the door before lunch. When we got home that afternoon, I put my boys down for an early nap and searched for pink construction paper so I could write “I QUIT” on it and turn in my “pink slip” to my husband when he came home from work.
I was tired of feeling like such a failure as a mom. But ironically, I couldn’t find pink construction paper, so I decided to pull out my journal and file a complaint to God.
Filling blank pages with scribbled thoughts, I wrote:
I hate who I have become. I’m such a horrible mom. Why didn’t someone tell me how hard this was going to be? I’m frustrated with my kids and myself. I have no patience and I don’t know what I am doing! I feel guilty all the time. I couldn’t wait to be a mom and now I want to quit.
Just as I finished writing that sentence, I sensed God whispering to my heart: Renee, you are so critical of yourself. You focus on your mistakes and beat yourself up with accusation and condemnation but those are not My thoughts.
That afternoon, I sat before God and choked out the words, “I can’t do this.”
And in that place of surrender, God’s peace that came over me. His gentleness calmed my nerves. It literally felt like God bent down before me to listen, and then He whispered to my heart again: You are right, Renee. In your strength and through your perspective, you can’t do this. But with My promises, My presence, and My power — all things are possible. I will help you.
Looking back on that day, I’m reminded of Psalm 116:2:
Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!
When we acknowledge that on our own we are a mess, God rushes to our side to help us. He bends down and with His peace and perspective, He helps us get back up again.Leave a Comment
I love that Jesus himself is bending down and helping us get up again!!!
Renee Swope says
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
I needed to hear this. Sometimes I pray and pray and it seems like nothing changes. My children are grown (notice I don’t necessarily say they are adults). I thought this was supposed to be the “easy” time, but now they have adult problems and issues. I didn’t realize that even grown children can have “temper tantrums” (or is it just mine?). The other one I continually pray for Him to find his way in life with God. “Responsibility” seems like a word that this generation doesn’t want to embrace. Like you, Renee, my criticism turns inward. What did I do wrong? But God…..I love the image that He bends down to listen and so I will continue to pray as long as I have breath. I need His supernatural strength right now. Thanks for a much needed post.
Renee Swope says
Bev, our mothering seasons never get easy, do they? Those little ones mentioned in today’s post are now 19 and 22. And I look back on those days and think. THOSE were the easier days.
I am praying for you dear one, asking Jesus to infuse your heart with strength and cup your face in His hands, breathing grace and peace into your lungs.
Oh, I really the idea of Jesus cupping our faces in His hands. Sigh! 🙂 Thank you, Renee, and commentors (is that a word? 🙂 for sharing your hearts.
Michele Morin says
I have “quit” so many times in this mothering life, but I have to say that I didn’t have the creativity to go looking for the means to create a pink slip!
Thanks for sharing your gritty story. You’ve made my heart thankful for all the many ways that God “bends down” to grant peace and enabling for all the impossible things we find ourselves doing.
Renee Swope says
I’m so grateful for the ways He’s bent down low to help me see His face in the midst of my grittiest days. Thankful He met you through these words today.
I love to picture Jesus bending down and easing me in with a hug and gentle word, preparing me for my Monday morning of what will be another busy week. Lord, may I constantly remember Jesus’s humble willingness to bend down and lean in and remind me of His promises!
Renee Swope says
Love that. Although my kids are older, I too, had written that pink slip this past week. Over and over in my mind I had said, “I quit… I give up.” Parenting is so hard. I feel so depleted. I’m not sure what to do to change things at this point, but your reminder is that I *must* go to the Lord first…. and hear his gentle words… and seek his peace.
Renee Swope says
Those little boys are now 19 and 22, and oh how those challenges grew deeper and wider. But every time I wanted to quit, He was there, reminding me just how far we’d come and encouraging me to not give up. So grateful for our bent low Lord who loves us so well.
Thank you for being real, and being raw. We’ve all been there, we just don’t like to admit or acknowledge it. I look back on those times when our 3 boys were little, climbing in and out of the shopping carts, touching everything on the shelves, knocking down carefully constructed displays….and I wish I could go back in time and tell that Mom she is doing a great job. Now that the boys are in their 20’s and, for the most part, on their own, I realize those crazy times were special times-frustrating, hair-pulling, failure-inciting, exhausting-but also the times I had to lean on God the most. His hand was always there beside me to help me stay on my feet when I felt like I would fall. I now struggle with knowing that our sons are not following hard after God, and it hurts my heart. But I know God is right there beside them, ready to catch them when they fail or fall, and right now that is enough for this Mom. ❤️
Renee Swope says
Me too! Those little ones are now 19 and 22, and I wish I could go back and tell their younger mom she was doing okay. And that she’d be okay. She’d make it through and that mothering is hard but He is with us (and them), all the way through.
Thanks so much for this today. Was just looking for pink paper! I’m not in the young mother spot, but an older has been- has been a pastor’s wife, has been physically and emotionally strong, but no more.
So precious that He bends near – whatever our circumstances – when we surrender.
Thank you again for the reminder!
Renee Swope says
You’re so welcome, Sue. Thank you for sharing how it encouraged you today.
Thank you for sharing. I have been so critical of myself asking myself where I went wrong in my parenting.
It is great to know that with His promises, His presence, and His power all thing are possible and that He will help me.
Renee Swope says
Yes, He will. All things are possible with Him.
This was a wonderful reminder that we all struggle at times cuz we try to go it alone and forget about God. Also we set our expectations too high. Also have grown children but now I struggle more with a husband who gets upset so easily about stupid stuff and seems like its ‘all about him’. A priest advised me once to say less – not to further aggravate him. I try by going to another room or focusing on something else. It works for a while and then I lose it. So thank you for this article. I will remind myself to ‘go to Him’. Where His peace surpasses all others…..
Diane, I was just reading your comment and thought I’d reach out to you because I struggled with the same type of husband. We divorced 3 yrs ago after 29 years because he was a narcissist. I’ve done a ton of research about narcissism. I don’t know if your husband has that personality disorder, but either way, you can learn to respond in smart ways. Your priest was right, but I would phrase it in another way – in my opinion, you just cannot engage him when he complains that you’ve done smthg wrong, etc. Especially if he yells. If he does, say “I’d love to talk to you about this when you can talk calmly.” You have to disengage emotionally when it happens. It sounds like you’re doing the right thing. If he IS a narcissist, he feeds off your emotional response – whether it’s your anger, or whether you’re begging him to tell you what’s wrong, or whether it’s your tears. Be as unemotional as possible when he’s acting that way. Again, he may not be a narcissist, but could have some of those tendencies. It’s VERY hard, and my heart goes out to you. I even started a closed, private Facebook group called “Recovering From Narcissistic Abuse – a closed group for Christians.” If you’re struggling, you might want to check it out for encouragement. My prayers go out to you dear.
Oh my dear Cathy…. you have helped me immensely. What amazing advice! When you wrote ‘he feeds off your emotional response…’ I believe you hit the nail on the head. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for doing the research and for sharing it. I am sure other woman will benefit by your post. I just might have to check out that FB group. God bless you and thanks for being a wounded healer….
Awww, Diane, you don’t know how happy your response made me! That was so sweet, especially because when I was going through the years of pain, one of my only comforts was that I felt God telling me, “Child, this pain is for a reason. I’m going to use it for good.” I’m in the process of writing a devotion book for people going through hard times. In my worst days, I only found one devotion book like that so I think it’s kind of an untapped niche. It’s hard to keep myself motivated to write though – maybe I should write a book about living with a narcissist instead! That anger and frustration will keep my juices flowing! Ha!
Don’t know if you’ve read much about narcissism, but one of the defining characteristics is a lack of empathy. They’re also never wrong, can’t apologize, never at fault, and they accuse you of having the same flaws that they themselves actually have. Look up narcissism on Pinterest – VERY eye opening!
Again, Diane, thanks for replying – it made my day! And your phrase “wounded healer” really touched me. Maybe God WILL use my pain and I’ll crank out a book one day that’ll help heal somebody. My prayers go out to you, Diane. God bless!
Paula white says
Thank you Renee. God keeps bringing me across scriptures where he stoops down to look in our eyes and hearts. I love this.
“In your strength and through your perspective, you can’t do this. But with My promises, My presence, and My power — all things are possible. I will help you.” Renee, this statement literally gives me chills. It’s just what I needed. I’ve been going through marital issues lately. I’ve been praying,& sometimes I feel like I can’t go any further. But God…His promises never fail, He’s always with me (even when I feel all alone), & His power…nothing is impossible. When I think I can’t, He carries me.
I REALLY needed this this morning. I have been beating myself up about everything, and lately I have felt a lot of shame. I just need to surrender and I tell God that I cant, so that He can through me. Thank you for this, this morning.
Thank-you for sharing with us this morning. At times I too have felt this way,” and said,”Please God watch over them for me.”
I love how you expressed how He bends down to listen. Yesterday I believe it was He who was there, and kept my son out of harm’s way. Miraculously he walked away from a car crash where the car clung to the trees that broke his fall. Inside nothing but the driver’s seat laying back was left. The gratitude I feel I can’t adequately express but wanted to share, that yes the Lord does hear our prayers.
Have a blessed day all,
Renee Swope says
Yes, and amen. I”m so grateful He protected your son.
What a gorgeous verse. For some reason that one’s never jumped off the page for me before…surprisingly. I just wrote it down. Thanks for sharing that. — Even with most of my children grown, I still feel weary and worn and have plenty of “I can’t do this” moments. Thankful for the One who can. I need Him more and more every year.
Rebecca L Jones says
Probably my favorite verse, I have to be at His feet breaking my alabaster box.
Indeed He is a very present help. He watches us and inclines His ear to our cries. And I’m at this VERY SECOND with a cranky little one tugging on me, I’m crying out to Him.
Birdie Cutair says
I said the same thing to God when He asked me to go on a mission trip. I said, “I can’t do this.” And He answered with, “I know you can’t, but I can.” So I ended up going and He definitely was with me every step of the way.
I could have written the same words in my own journal. I’m grateful for your words.
Thanks for sharing. As a first time mother, I truly appreciate the topic and your transparency. I read this almost in disbelief that someone else was penning these words. Anyone who thinks they are the worse don’t expect anyone else to be having the same experience. I have a 2 yr old and I’ve been under the same beliefs that everyone is doing it and I’m just barely making it – though I am trying really hard. I’m almost always tired and want to walk in confidence in this role, not insecurity and fear. I do know and am grateful for the Lord in bringing me this far. I need to continue to walk and talk with Him and trust He will continue to walk with me through this parenting journey.
Renee Swope says
Sweet Shenise, I’m so glad you’re here reading this tonight. You’re doing so much better than you think, I promise. Mom-ing is just really hard. And all those other moms are struggling too. They’re just good at faking it. 🙂
Those little boys of mine are now 19 and 22. We made it. I made it!! If I could, I’d go back and tell my younger mom-self she was doing better than she thought, and not to be too hard on herself. Grateful I got to tell you instead.
Wow, this is great. I am a first time mum,sure I will also make it.
Sure I will also make it.My son is 3 years. Praying for him daily to please God.
Susan G. says
Thanks for the great reminder Renee, that God is always there to ‘ bend down’ and listen to us.
What an awesome thought that is!
When you become the “mother” of a parent these feelings of “I can’t do this anymore” come back like a raging storm. This seems so much more difficult than parenting children. But I know His grace is sufficient for me. He is with me and guiding me in these difficult days as He bends down to meet me and listen to my prayers. Thank you for the reminder!
I was just thinking exactly the same thing! Parenting a parent, especially one who was always the strong personality, feels like a raging storm. I am trying to keep my eyes on Jesus, but like Peter, I feel like I am sinking in the waves.
Kim B Smith says
Renee, Thank you so much for your realness. I am not a mother, (well to two Labs) but I get critical with myself, and I am a recovering perfectionist. And I want so much to slow down a bit throughout my day and talk with God. I do this in morning, but I want to be able to turn to God through out my day. Thank you for the leadership and guidance on this one.
It’s funng how God works sometimes. I missed reading this yesterday (honestly I rarely get a chance to read posts), and I almost deleted this email. Something told me to read it. And I’m so glad I did! I have been struggling lately, raising 4 children (ages 9, 3, 2, 7 months). Everything in this post resonated with me! I don’t have it all together – not even a little bit. And it seems like everyone else does. I’m trying my best, but I think some children are more strong-willed than others, and I have 2 that are. Bless their little hearts. So, this post helped me in a million ways. So glad I took the time to read this one!
My mom forwarded me this post today. She had no idea how much I needed to read this today.
I am a new mom – my husband and I just had our first at the beginning of August. It was a rough pregnancy, and an even tougher delivery (5 1/2 weeks early). I have been in and out of the hospital several times since the birth of our daughter. Needless to say, these first few months have been challenging for our family.
This morning, I woke up way too early, wide awake. So I slipped out of bed, and went out on the couch so I didn’t wake up my husband. I laid there, and just wept, because I’ve been feeling so alone with everything, and feeling like I can’t do this, that I’m a horrible mother because I can’t stay out of the hospital, and that I’m a horrible wife for the same reasons.
Reading this today, could not have come at a better time. God knew what I needed, and His perfect timing, as usual. Thank you for posting this. And thank you for helping to remind me that I’m not alone in this, and that all mothers feel this way from time to time. Most importantly, thank you for the reminder that I can only do this with God. Being a mom (and wife) is the most important job that God could’ve ever given me.
I’m so glad I found time to read my email today. My daughter is 31 and is pregnant, separated from her boyfriend, and back living with my husband and I. It is so hard to know the right way to be a parent in this situation. I want to support her because I know she is hurting but I also hear from my husband that she needs to take responsibility for her bad decisions and we shouldn’t make it so easy for her that she never wants to move out!! I’ve even started going to counseling because I had been losing a lot of sleep over this. My counselor says that I’m an enabler and need to work on encouraging my daughter to take responsibility for her life more. Parenting is so hard!! I never ever imagined that it could be this hard at this stage of my life. So it’s wonderful to hear that God is bending down to help me through it. Thank you, Renee for the email 🙂
Marianne Bernard says
When I am weary and overwhelmed, I sometimes feel that God is not in control of my situation when in fact he is in a place of complete power. I have learned by faith that I don’t have to visibly see or audibly hear God to know without a doubt that he is in the center of my struggle and working it all out according to his perfect plan. That is his promise and I take him at his word!
Erin Kowall says
Thank you Renee for posting this. I am reading it to my small group today and applying the verse. I co-lead a journaling to Jesus group at my church and this meets us right where we are as a group!!
Personally, I have been there at that point of surrender & God met me there. What a beautiful verse to apply to surrendering to Him. I love it!
Beth Williams says
This hit home to me: “you are so critical of yourself. You focus on your mistakes and beat yourself up with accusation and condemnation.” I’m not a mom, but still very critical of myself. Each little mistake/mishap & I feel like a failure. I hear the words “dumb, stupid, not good enough”. I was the primary caregiver for my parents. There were trials/times when I wanted to quit. I have actually cried out to God for help “just let him die, what must I learn from this?” Help me Jesus. I know He heard me. He sent angels to hug me & pray with me.
Now when I feel/hear those “can’t do this anymore, stupid, dumb, etc” thoughts I simply tell the devil to take a hike. God’s got this not you!!
Briana Fabris says
Man alive I cannot count how many times I have felt just like this! I loved reading your story and calm quiet gentle message the Lord had for you. When we expect condemnation, He meets us with grace! Makes me teary thinking how good He is to us. Thanks for sharing.