The other day, I was thinking about a story Bobbie Houston once told us about her and her daughter. It brought forward some thoughts that I put before you very humbly knowing that I am a new mom, and new at life really… Learning and growing constantly… These are just some very honest thoughts I had following this story:
I can’t remember the specifics but life at Hillsong is very full. Especially if you are a person in leadership, your list of responsibilities and expectations is long. One day, Bobbies daughter (Laura) was talking to Bobbie about it, Laura has a little girl. She was talking about all those responsibilities and what it’s like to do them with a little girl… She asked her mom “It’s hard isn’t it mom? I mean it’s a lot!” (something around those lines). Bobbie told us that she had to stop herself from saying, “No!!” She then explained to us that for her, doing ministry for so many years and having raised a family, she now does it without thinking. Bobbie had to stop herself and remember that she’s gone through more growth and her capacity has been stretched so much more than Laura’s. She had to remember that her daughter was facing a different season, a newer season. So, with that realization, she instead replied, “Yea, yea I reckon it is hard!”
I loved that story, and it’s obviously stuck with me… Now for two reasons…
My first reason is that I am now a new mom and something I learned very quickly after having Jacen is that (intentionally or not), there is a HUGE compare game that happens behind the scenes of us [as moms] and our children. From comparing our children’s development, to comparing the difficulty of raising them to comparing what we do and accomplish each day. As a new mom, the one you face the most is the difficulty comparison because you only have one kid. I find people asking me “Is this your first? Oh! Well, enjoy it because thats the easiest one!” Sometimes I find myself feeling pressured or even guilty, “gosh, I have no right to even think it’s hard raising my kid, she has to deal with 3 kids!” Every moment where I’ve felt helpless and out of my depth then feels pointless in comparison. Remembering Bobbies story has helped so much in realizing…. You know what? It’s not necessarily easier, their capacity is simply stronger and larger than mine because they’ve raised their first kid already. I might not be taking care of 3 kids, but I’m taking care of one more person than I’m used to… And that person is dependent on me in every way which makes it a whole new sort of life change to get used to. If I struggle to get places on time, it does not make me a pathetic comparison to someone with 5 kids who gets everywhere early… Because I’m still learning, and for me it is still a challenge. My capacity is growing. One day I will look back at raising one kid as easy too.
A friend of mine has two kids, and I’m sure aspects of raising her baby are easier to her since she has done it before, but having two kids raises a whole new set of challenges. Her capacity is being stretched.
What people don’t realize when they make comments like “try it with 3 kids,” is that it actually belittles and devalues someone else’s season. How sad that is because instead, we could be drawing so much wisdom from someone with 3 on how to get through our season of 1 or 2! [I’m talking about his from the perspective of mothers and as a mother, but this applies to so many areas of life]. The “try living life in my shoes” statement, however put, you are not only lowering the value of someone else’s experience but you are competing from a negative stand point, for a negative position. I’m sure you’ve heard it like this before too… “Gosh, that was a hard situation I faced the other day!” — “You think that was hard? You should have seen me facing x, y, and z”.
Why do we do that? Compete for the hardest situation in life? Why do we need to make others feel that one life is harder than another? Or on the other end, why do we need to feel like our life is inferior because the other persons life is harder… And because we feel that way, we are apologetic for thinking that whatever we might be facing is hard at all. Why not, instead, when someone expresses a struggle, try encouraging them and uplifting them. Maybe even provide some tools for them to get through it. It takes effort and a change of perspective to change the way we respond to people. I’ve had my fair share of thoughtless, selfish responses. But there is an entire culture built around trying to be the one to face the worst in life (at least in conversation)… to what end? “Congratulations, you are the most miserable of all of us?” No, thank you. I prefer to live a happy life, striving to be better, stronger and more capable.
Thats the second reason that I love Bobbies story; because it reminds me that my capacity will grow. One day I will be able to raise kids, run a family, work in ministry, maintain a social life, pour into people etc. without even batting an eye-lash. Or at least I can strive for excellence in those areas and know that there will be growth. It reminds me that I’m young, learning, new to this and all that is ok. The best part is that I have room to grow, the best part is that there is so much capacity to stretch and fill yet! Who knows what the result will be when I’m a wizened old women with life experience who’s done the journey and can now pass it onto the next generation.
There are so many groups of people I hope to reach out to with this blog. The moms who are new and just learning like me, be encouraged that whether your learning how to live with just one new baby or two, or even three… That’s your season! Gods entrusted you with it. He knows what your capable of and won’t push you past your limits. Live your season fully and well, without pressure that you aren’t as good as the mom who seems to have so much more on her plate. Once you have two kids, you probably will think that having one kid is so much easier, and it probably is… so do enjoy having your one baby! And grow as much as you can to prepare for the adventure that awaits you with the next one!
The moms who have lived longer, do more, have more kids… Pass on your wisdom to us new girls! Remember your first baby and all your old challenges! They might seem so easy to you now but some of us are still paddling just to keep our heads above water! That’s why I love MOPS so much, it’s a gold mine of wisdom from moms who know what they’re doing while still being a place that recognizes we all face challenges and we are here to do them together.
To all of us, our capacity always has room to grow, to be stretched, to be challenged. Embrace the challenges knowing that you will come out stronger than you were. You will look back and think “wow, if I had to do that again, it would be easy now.” Some of us might think another persons challenges look easy, but you have difficulties in your life that might seem easy to them as well. And then along the way, be encouraging with your words… be aware when someone expresses a struggle, don’t one-up them with something you’re going through… We are on this journey of life together, we ought to learn from each other, encourage each other, bring out the best of each other and help each other along. Lets be life-givers, not show-stealers.
“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up…” 1 Thessalonians 4:11 [ESV]
“Let no foul or polluting language, nor evil word nor unwholesome or worthless talk [ever] come out of your mouth, but only such [speech] as is good and beneficial to the spiritual progress of others, as is fitting to the need and the occasion, that it may be a blessing and give grace (God’s favor) to those who hear it.“ Ephesians 4:29 [AMP]
“Make the most of every opportunity. Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out.“ Colossians 4:6 [MSG]