Seven months ago, my husband Jon and I became parents for the first time. Welcoming our daughter into our family has truly been the most lovely and meaningful thing we’ve ever done. She is full of joy and wonder, and now we can’t imagine our lives without her! At the same time, this has been the most intense seven months of our lives; nothing could have prepared us for the identity shift and lifestyle changes that having a baby would entail.
Pre-baby, Jon and I had ample time to connect with each other in conversation, go out for coffee, or watch shows/movies. Not so much anymore. I’m finding that I crave car rides with him or walks around the neighborhood just so we can have uninterrupted time to talk. As we are carried through the whirlwind of life and finally land in the car or on the sidewalk with stroller in hand, the conversation then goes something like this:
We both exhale. One of us asks, “How are you? No, really… are you okay? What do you need right now?” Then the other says something like, “I’m not even sure how I’m doing. I’m tired, I need to sleep. I feel like I can’t catch my breath. I need time for myself.”
We often find ourselves in the land of “if only’s…” If only she would sleep through the night. If only we could have a regular date night. If only we had time to check things off our growing to-do list. If only this parenting thing weren’t so demanding.
If only life were easier.
Now, these aren’t bad things to wish for (or even need): sleep/rest, self-care, connection as husband and wife, to be productive. Ease.
But as Jon and I walked and talked the other day, I said, “Is that really our hope, for life to be easy and for all of our difficulties to go away? Isn’t there something better to be hoping for? I think there has to be more than that.”
All the best things I’ve done in life have been incredibly difficult. Anything meaningful has been accompanied by great effort and exhaustion, like working as a missionary in East Asia, going to grad school for counseling, marriage, giving birth to my daughter. These endeavors have made me the woman I am today. They have made me feel fulfilled.
This perspective can feel impossible to grasp in the midst of a difficult season, but it provides me with hope and endurance to keep going right now. When it’s 4am and my infant daughter wakes up to eat for the third time in the middle of the night, or when Sunday night rolls around and the weekend wasn’t restful or productive at all, I have a choice in these moments of where my heart goes. Yet I find myself fighting with God. God, why won’t she just sleep?? Why can’t there be one more day in the weekend? I’m so frustrated!!
Romans 5:3-5 has been coming to mind:
“We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character, character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
I really believe that difficult seasons and sufferings form us into people of character, people who know how to move through life with intention, meaning, and ultimately hope in God. This is what I am holding onto during this season of transitioning into my new identity as a mother.
What about you? Can you name the difficult seasons that have formed you? Maybe you’re in one right now. What are your “if only_____then I would be okay” statements like? What is God inviting you into?
God, my prayer is that you would give us meaning and hope beyond just having an easy life. You want so much more for us than that. Help us, your people, to find you in the midst of difficult seasons. Let Romans 5 sink into our hearts as truth, and help us to find refuge in you instead of just waiting for circumstances to change.
Megan began counseling at The Barnabas Center in the summer of 2022. She has a Bachelor of Arts from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, where she studied Psychology, Religious Studies, and Mandarin Chinese. She received her Master of Arts in Counseling from Reformed Theological Seminary Orlando. Megan lives in Charlotte with her husband, Jon. She loves to spend quality time with friends, go on walks/hikes, and travel to new cities. She enjoys drinking quality coffee, watching shows, and doing yoga.
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