Hey Mom, Be Selfish

mom selfishI know, the title sounds intriguing.  Or maybe it’s just a creative hook to get you to read this post.  But the truth is, there is one thing that, as a mom, (and really as a person) you need to be selfish with and for good reason:  You need to be selfish with the time that allows you to selflessly care well for those you love most.

Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to travel to different states and countries.  When flying, there is always the pre-flight instructions given by the flight attendant.  For those who have flown quite a bit you probably have the speech memorized.  But just in case you’ve forgotten, let me refresh your memory.  One part of the instructions is given regarding the loss of cabin pressure:  “In the unlikely event of loss of cabin pressure, oxygen masks will drop from the overhead area.  To start the flow of oxygen, pull the mask towards you. Place the mask over your nose and mouth and slip the elastic band over your head. Tighten by pulling the straps and breath normally (yeah, right).  But it’s this last line that is counterintuitive, especially for parents:  “Parents travelling with younger children should first secure their own mask, and then their child’s mask.”  That seems so selfish.  But the truth is, you can’t care for your child is you’re passed out due to a loss of cabin pressure.  The best way you can help your child is to be selfish with the time that will allow you to selflessly care for those you love most.  

Life is not much different.  You’re going to find your heart “losing cabin pressure” at times, which is why it’s not just important, but necessary, to care for your heart.  So how do you do that?  How do you care for your heart?

THREE WAYS TO CARE FOR YOUR HEART . . . 

1. Daily get away with God.  No one cares for your heart like God does.  When you’re at your limit, or have exceeded it; when you are exhausted, overwhelmed, discouraged, or feel as though you just aren’t “mom enough,” you need to get away with God.

Think about this:  Jesus, who was fully God and yet fully human, although never sinning, still acknowledged His need to spend time with His heavenly Father.  Jesus experienced what we do as humans:  He was hungry, He wept over the loss of a friend and over the people of Jerusalem who would reject Him as their Savior.  He needed rest.  He needed time away with His Father.  “Then Jesus said, ‘Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest a while.’  He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and His apostles didn’t even have time to eat.”  (Mark 6:31)  

Moms, you can relate to this, right?  As a matter of fact, we all can. We need to get away with God.  In the Psalms, David writes, ” . . . in Your presence is fulness of joy.” (Psalm 16:11b)  To spend time with God gives you a fulness of joy that often seems depleted by the demands of life.  It also gives you perspective when you find yourself in the spin-cycle of everyday living.

Even if it’s for 15 or 30 minutes, take time to be in His presence.  When you are physically and need rest; when your emotional tank is on empty; when you feel like you can’t make it another moment; when there is no margin in your life and you feel overwhelmed; when you feel like you can’t make another meeting, go to another game or recital, cook another meal, wash another load of clothes, deal with another parent-teacher conference; and when you feel like you’re just not enough, take time to get away with God and let Him care for your heart.

Let Him speak truth into you when the enemy is trying to deceive and discourage you.  ” . . . and take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.”  2 Corinthians 10:5b

Let Him comfort you by His Spirit.  “Blessed be the God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our afflictions . . .” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4a

Let Him quiet you with His love and sing over you.  “The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you with His love; He will exult over you with loud singing.”  Zephaniah 3:17  God sings over you!  And it’s not a common song, it is His song that He sings over you.  He pulls you close and quiets you with His love when fears assail and darkness seems to hide His face.

And He says to you, “Come to Me.  Get away with Me and you’ll recover your life.  I’ll show you how to take a real rest.  Walk with Me and work with Me–watch how I do it.  Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.  I won’t lay anything too heavy or ill-fitting on you.  Keep company with Me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”  Matthew 11:28-30 (The Message)

2. Be intentional about carving out time to be renewed physically, emotionally, and mentally.  The key words are “intentional” and “carving out time.”  You can’t make time; you have to carve out time.  Listen to what the apostle Paul writes,  “So we do not lose heart.  Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.  For this light and momentary affliction (even the daily grind of life can seem like an affliction; sanctification; God is using to conform us to the image of His Son, in how we speak the gospel in our marriage, our parenting, and every area of our life)  is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.  For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”  2 Corinthians 4:16-18 

God wants to renew you from the inside-out.  You find yourself in what seems anything but light and momentary afflictions.  Maybe you’ve just changed your baby’s fourth diaper within an hour; or you’ve got a middle-schooler and you’re wondering if he or she is even human anymore; or you have your youngest child graduating high school and your soon facing the empty nest.  There are different types of afflictions, but God tells us He doesn’t waste a single one and in the midst of it all He graciously renews us.

But you can’t do this on your own, mom.  You have to have help.  If you’re going to be intentional about carving out time to be renewed, you’ve got to ask.  If you’re married, you need to ask your husband; if you’re a single mom, ask your family, or close friends.  And for any husbands who are reading this, one of the most loving things you can do to serve your wife well is do the dishes, vacuum the house, attempt to make the bed.  Give your wife the opportunity to be renewed regularly.

So, mom, what recharges you physically?  Find something you enjoy doing.  What refreshes you emotionally?  Find a safe way to download and decompress emotionally.  And mentally, what renews you?  Unplug from whatever drains and stresses you mentally, and be renewed.

3. Guard against the enemy’s ambush.  “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (Proverbs 4:23)  “Be sober-minded; be watchful.  Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”  (1 Peter 5:8)

He’s going to try and ambush you in three specific areas:

  • The comparison trap.  Nothing discourages a heart like the comparison game because you never win.  Every time you look on social media, the tendency is to compare yourself with the mom who has 4 kids on her hip, talking on the phone, and cooking dinner, while at the same time smiling.  And all the while you’re just praying that it is photoshopped.  And you think to yourself, “I’d like to be like her.”  Or maybe it’s a friend you’re comparing yourself to, or culture.  The truth is, those whom you wish you were like are wishing they were like you.  Your identity is not found in what others think about you, or even who you say you are.  You’re identity is found in who God says you are, and you are deeply loved by Him.
  • Unrealistic expectations.  It’s easy to listen to believe the lies of the enemy that you aren’t doing enough as a mom.  He will whisper in your ear and try to convince you that you need to do more and be more.  And his whispers are arrows that penetrate your heart.  But take those thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ.  And don’t expect more of yourself than God expects of you.  So what does He expect?  For you to do what’s just, to love mercy and kindness, and to walk humbly with Him.  (Micah 6:8)  That’s it.
  • The tyranny of saying “yes” to what you should be saying “no” to.  Be intentional about where and in what you invest your time and energy.  And be very discerning of what will drain and derail you.  One of my mentors once said, “If Satan can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy.”  It’s ok to say no.

So here’s why this matters:  Because the health of your heart will set the pace for the health of your home.  That’s why it is necessary, mom, to care for your heart.  Be selfish with the three things I mentioned earlier so that you can be cared for well, and care selflessly for those you love most.