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Hey, friends, today’s episode is going to be short and sweet, but before we dive in, I’d like to invite you to check out TruthLoveParent.com.
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Okay, so today I want to talk to you about a recent Facebook post my cousin wrote.
I have a cousin who is a mother of two young boys. She’s also a writer and a philosopher, so her Facebook posts are always a joy to read.
She writes with a ready wit honed on the whetstone of stark realism. I love her dearly, and she recently posted a longer essay that I thought would be an encouragement and a challenge to us.
Here are her thoughts on work.
“When I wake up, I work.
“While I eat breakfast, I work—one eye always on my work.
"I work while I eat lunch. Then, all alone, I clean up after my work.
“When I try to shower or use the toilet, my work comes and finds me. It asks me when I can work again.
“When I sit down to do other work, my primary work interrupts and asks for additional work.
“When I make dinner, I work. My work disapproves of dinner. I scramble to make sure my work is sufficiently cared for.
“When I shut my work down for the night, my work self-starts intermittently, demanding more work be done. I work twenty minutes after my work is over. I work at midnight. I work at two.
“On the weekends, I work.
“On vacation, I bring all my work.
“When I want to step away from my work, I have to find someone less capable and less experienced to do my work for me until my return. I spend this time away worrying about my work.
“When I don't do enough work, I worry about it some more.
“Yes, my work is my children. And YES, I signed up for this. Yes, I got pregnant on purpose (twice), and yes, I quit my well-paying office job to be home with these two beautiful kids.
“But here’s the thing: you signed up for your job, too. Doctors signed up for their jobs. Lawyers signed up for theirs. And soldiers, and police officers, and fire fighters, and paramedics. But when a doctor complains about the insane hours and the dreamlike fog of fatigue, and the isolation, and the high stakes, no one shames them. When a paramedic collapses under the grief for a lost patient—this stranger they trained [to save] and promised to save—no one shames them. When a fire fighter can’t get to sleep for weeks after watching their buddy burn, no one shames them.
“And everyone—EVERYONE—gets a break from their job. A commute home. A commute back. A day off here or there. A time to see different sights, hear different sounds, smell other things, feel other things. A time to do different work without interruption. A space to vent. A society that validates you. Coworkers with which to commiserate.
“But a stay-at-home parent of young children? You don’t get a break. There is no commute. There is no change. There is no other work. There is no respite. And unless you’re lucky, there is no place to vent. No validation. No welcoming space. And when you tell of the fatigue, and the isolation, and the high stakes, you’re met with shame. When you can’t get to sleep for fear of failure, when you grieve your own difficult childhood and wonder whether you can love well at all, you’re shamed. Post-partum health issues? Shamed. Want maternity or paternity leave? Shamed. Need help? Shamed.
“Because parenthood is a job that you’re supposed to relish.
“Because parenthood is a job that expects joy.
“But parenthood is work. It’s hard work. Yes, there’s love. There’s family. There’s the privilege of responsibility, and the weight of obligation. There’s a lot of laughter and fun. But there is never, ever an end. Parenthood is forever. And it is hard, hard work.
“Those of us staying home with these young kids all day long—and ministering to their endless needs all through the night—I want you to know that I get it. This is HARD. The stakes are HIGH. And I’m not going to judge you if this is too much sometimes. If you want a break, but feel guilty needing one. If you aren’t even sure how to ask. I get it. I don’t know how to help, and I don’t know how to come to terms with my own anxiety and stress, but you are 100% not alone. And I’ll keep doing my best. And I hope you do, too.”
Wow. There’s so much to say.
Okay, I think she summed up the problem well. I think her words unveiled her experience in such a way that everyone who’s ever come close to feeling what she feels perfectly understands her.
So, here are my takeaways.
1. I hope my first comments don’t describe you, but I pray that none of us would ever be so foolish and unkind as to use Bad Shame on a parent.
We discussed the differences between Bad Shame and Good Shame in our “Children and Shame” series. As always, I’ll link additional shows in the description of this episode so you can take the next step and do some more study.
Anyway, it’s always a sin to cast Bad Shame on someone. Nothing my cousin mentioned in her post is shame worthy. So, I really hope none of us have to break the habit of looking down on struggling parents, criticize them because they don’t live up to the superficial expectation you prescribe from a distance.
If you’re listening to this show, you’ve likely been there, so I hope we’re not being hypocritical with this one.
But if you have done this, please keep Galatians 6:2 in mind: “Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” The completion of the Law of God is summed up in this — that we bear one another’s burdens.
I think if the church were doing that better, the feelings expressed in a post like this wouldn’t be as common.
2. In the same way that I pray the Body of Christ is doing its part to encourage and help a lonely, overburdened mom or dad, I hope — if you personally are feeling that way — that you’re not neglecting the Body of Christ that wants so badly to bear your burdens.
There are many reasons people refuse the help of their fellow believers.
A. Sometimes it’s pride. They’re unwilling to admit that they need help.
B. Sometimes it’s fear. They’re worried about how they’ll be treated if they’re open and honest about their struggles and doubts. By the way, that’s a form of pride too.
C. Sometimes it’s ignorance. And though this may not necessarily be a sin problem (willful ignorance, of course, is), you don’t have any excuse now. You need to reach out to your brothers and sisters in Christ. You need their assistance in this life.
Our Season 8 intro was called "Creating Community.” Please listen to that episode. And also please listen to our “You Family Needs to Go to Church” series.
If we’re neglecting the gathering together of the Body of Christ, or we’re neglecting the one-anothering of the Body of Christ, it’s no wonder we feel stretched and forgotten and alone. That’s like moving into the middle of a desert and complaining that no one ever comes by to visit! That’s like tying your arms to your body and complaining about how hard it is to make dinner!
So, please don’t allow ignorance to keep you from seeking out help.
D. Sometimes people don’t ask for help because they assume no one would be willing or able. That’s pride too.
I know you’ve been hurt. The people who hurt you either weren’t born again believers or they were in sin. Forgive them and seek out mature believers. I’m not saying they won’t let you down — they’re sinners too — but your focus needs to be in the right place, and — more importantly — on the right person.
God created you for community. God commands you to be involved in each other’s lives. Trust Him and obey Him. Don’t worry about what people may do, trust God to do what He promised. Where two or more are gathered together in His name, He is in the midst, and He will do the work.
By way of review, we need to stop heaping Bad Shame on parents who are drowning under the responsibility — especially the parents who have absolutely no idea what they’re doing. But we — the struggling parents — also need to take advantage of the resources God promised us.
I know I recently spoke on this, but consider again James 5:13-16: “Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises. 14 Is anyone among you [spiritually weak]? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; 15 and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.”
When we’re struggling, we must run to the Body of Christ.
Moving on — yes, we shouldn’t cause anyone to experience Bad Shame. Yes, we should be willing to accept anyone who comes to us for help. But . . .
3. We need to be actively looking for vulnerable people.
Just like those who are struggling should run to the Body of Christ, when others are struggling, we need to run to them in the power of Christ.
Titus 2:3-5 tells the older women in the church, “Older women . . . encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.”
It’s the responsibility of the mature to seek out those in need and actively invite them to engage in this life-on-life community.
The assumption is that there are things to be taught. There are things to be learned. There is help to be given.
Back to Galatians 6. Verse 1 opens with, “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness.”
It’s true, we’re not necessarily discussing someone caught in sin — though I will leave the door open that many times we find ourselves overwhelmed by life because we’ve not made wise decisions. And sometimes we’ve responded incorrectly to the heaviness of life. However, let’s focus for a moment on those who are not the source of their own discomfort. If we’re called by God to come along side those who are in sin with the purpose of restoring them and bearing them up, how much more should we be actively coming along side those who are trying to do right and are struggling?
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 illustrates that “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. 10 For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. 11 Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? 12 And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.”
We need each other. Those equipped to serve should be looking for a young mom, a struggling, single dad, a compromised couple, a family with a terrorist child . . . and they should offer to come along side these people. And the dad or mom needs to be humble enough to graciously accept the help.
On the other hand, those who are struggling need to be actively looking for help, not merely wallowing in their own self-pity.
Now, please understand that I’m not suggesting my cousin was wallowing in something. But too often we do. We feel alone, and we want to feel alone. We want to be mad at the world for not reaching out.
I’ve heard too many stories of people leaving a church because they went through a huge struggle and not a single pastor or church member reached out to them. Of course, they never told anyone about the struggle. Apparently every one at the church was supposed to be a mind-reader.
And then we justify our anger and loneliness and felt-persecution. It may not be a sin that you’re in the position you’re in, but that response would definitely be sinful.
I love the way my cousin closed: “If you want a break, but feel guilty needing one. If you aren’t even sure how to ask. I get it. I don’t know how to help, and I don’t know how to come to terms with my own anxiety and stress, but you are 100% not alone. And I’ll keep doing my best. And I hope you do, too.”
Please allow me to personalize her thoughts: If you want a break, but feel guilty needing one, if you aren’t even sure how to ask. I and TeamTLP get it . . . and we know how to help. We’re not doing this perfectly ourselves, but we are experienced in coming alongside those who need help. Overwhelmed, mom, lonely dad, struggling parents, you are 100% not alone. And Truth.Love.Parent. will keep doing our best to help you do your best.
Please send us an email. Call us.
On our anniversary weekend, my wife and I took a walk and were talking about this very thing. We were talking about how hard it was for her 13 years ago when she was a stay at home mom with a new baby. She needed help, but there were two problems. She didn’t reach out the way she should, and others didn’t reach in the way they should.
My wife and I believe that our culture has complicated and broken what God intended to be rewarding. Families would live near each other and new moms would have the benefit of their mature and experienced grandmothers and mothers and aunts and sisters. And even if the family wasn’t around, that’s what the church was supposed to do too. But our pride and arrogance keep us from getting and giving the help that’s needed.
Why are women talking to nurses about how to breastfeed their babies? Where are the loving mentors and dear friends? Why are dads getting advice from unsaved coworkers about how to discipline their kids? Where are the disciple-making relationships in the church?
My wife and I and the rest of TeamTLP would love to talk to you about pretty much anything. If you have no lifeline. If you have no one to whom you can turn for spiritual refreshment and challenge, for prayer, or even for practical life-advice . . . please do not hesitate to contact us. We’ll do our best to show you that you’re not alone and that the Body of Christ is powerful when it’s fulfilling the calling of Christ in the power of Christ.
And, we’ll even try to help you find a good church in your area if you don’t already have one. That would be the best place to build redemptive relationships.
I love you. I’m here for you. I want to help.
You can help by sharing this episode with your friends. Let them see that they’re not alone. Send this episode so a young mom with a little note saying that you’d love to be a resource for her. Send this to a dad and let him know you’re there to answer any questions he may have.
Use this resource as an opportunity to start a relationship that would otherwise seem a little awkward in our day and age.
And don’t neglect to contact us at Counselor@TruthLoveParent.com. We want so badly to help.
Remember, if we want our children to grow up into Christ, we must parent in truth and love. That means that we will get the help we need for our parenting.
To that end, join us next time as we discuss “5 Types of Parents” with Dr. Joe Martin from Real Men Connect.
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