I watch you glance at the clock. Because for now, life runs on time. And your days just don’t seem to have enough. It’s time for a bath and bed, and it’s okay when you feel guilty that you’re glad. I give you just enough energy to make it through the splashes and tantrums. And I hear every word you softly sing over her. I am already answering those prayers for her. Mama, you just wait to see what I do in her life.
Your to-do list is almost complete. And even after all of that, you still come meet me on the couch. I understand that you can barely hold your eyes open, but Mama, my Truth is just the refreshment you need. My Word is the energy you need to love hard tomorrow. And all I need you to do it open it. I’ll do the rest. And I’ll give you rest.
You did more Kingdom work today than you will ever know, sweet Mama.
And you will never know how proud I am of you.
—“Dear Working Mama” by Jessica Satterfield (excerpt)
Three years ago, as a brand new mom in the throes of postpartum depression, I gulped these words down like they were water for my parched soul. Over and over again, I would go back and forth between these words and His Word. My whole life I had been an over-achiever, and it was devastating to not live up to my own expectations.
Over the past few years, I’ve learned that one of the reasons Christians can come across as condescending or hypocritical is because we don’t want to share the dark parts of our testimony. The struggles with alcohol, drugs, addiction, mental health, anxiety, depression… The parts where we don’t have it all together.
But we can’t glorify Jesus unless we are willing to talk about what He’s delivered us from. Instead of preaching, “You need to fix this in your life,” we have to start with, “I’ve been there.” We have to make it personal. We have to be real and transparent with each other if we want to earn the right to speak into each other’s lives.
You know who might not be the best candidate for spreading the Good News? Someone who is perpetually expecting bad news. I’ve been there. I prefer to call myself a realist, but the truth is that I am often cynical, expecting the worst from people and situations. I let my past hurts and disappointments color the way I see the things around me.
Most recently, as I prepared for the end of my maternity leave, I found myself stressing out over all of the unknowns and coming to the worst possible conclusions: We aren’t going to be able to find a good daycare. He’s not going to take his bottle. There’s no way we are going to pay off all of these medical bills.
A few days ago, while I was in the middle of one of my pessimistic breakdowns, God revealed something to me:
Pessimism is viewing the world through our own scars instead of His scars.
Two and a half years ago when our daughter was born, it was like my world collapsed. I assumed the extreme highs and lows were just part of being a new mother, and I had no idea that I was suffering from postpartum depression.
Too often, our relationships sink under the weight of our expectations. We could spend hours talking about why this is the case, but there’s a simple explanation: There is only one who can love us the way we are created to be loved.
“I have loved you with an everlasting love.” – Jeremiah 31:3
No other love can reach the standard of God’s love. When we tie up our worth in the measure of anyone else’s love, we are selling ourselves short. Not only that, but we are putting a lot of pressure on someone who has no way of living up to who we need them to be.
In the months before my daughter was born, I talked with several friends who had struggled with postpartum depression and anxiety. I wanted to make sure I was prepared just in case. But nobody told me I might not recognize that I was depressed.