I’ve been thinking about the lies that I used to believe and the pain it caused me in my life for so many years as a mother. I had an overwhelming feeling of being trapped, limited, and not free, because I believed certain things about what good moms do and don’t do. I’m not even sure where some of those beliefs came from, but they were there, hemming me in and keeping me in line like a little box around me that I couldn’t step out of. They were subtle lies, with a little bit of truth mixed in, so it took me a long time to recognize them.
Some of the lies I believed:
Good Moms put everyone else’s needs and wants before their own (Truth: Family does come first. But when Mom puts herself last, both she and the family suffer.)
To be a Good Mom you have to sacrifice your personal interests (Truth: Mothering does involve sacrifice – of sleep, of personal time and space, and many other things. As a stay at home mom, a homeschooler, and an attachment parent, I have also chosen to do some things in what may be viewed as the ‘hard way’ that does involve extra sacrifices. But completely sacrificing the things that make you who are and bring you joy makes you empty and less able to serve others. I’m not saying let the TV watch the kids for 5 hours while you scrapbook every day, but take some time at least once a week to feed your soul and you’ll have more to give, more to share, more that you can BE for your kids.)
The only gifts that matter once you are a mom are the ones that directly affect your husband and kids (Truth: ALL your gifts matter! The way you apply and cultivate them may look different or have to take less time than before you had kids. But the parable of the talents applies here – God is pleased when we make good use of our talents and increase them, and being a mom is no excuse to hide your gifts under a bushel, even if no one in your household is interested in what you’re doing. I have found that developing myself in ANY way does directly affect my family for good, whether they are aware or not.)
I will be happier when I’m better at parenting, keeping house, etc, so if I’m unhappy I just need to try harder and do more (Truth: If I’m not happy now, what am I waiting for? Putting off joy hurts me and my family. And trying harder, beating myself up more only made me more unhappy. God has been teaching me to be more gentle with myself and let Him tell me I’m ok – and then believe Him! He was trying for so long to tell me to nurture myself and believe in His love for me, but I wouldn’t listen because I thought I had to check off everything on my self improvement list first to qualify.)
There’s not enough time for me to do stuff for myself and get all the other important things done! (Truth: Pockets of time open up when I value myself enough to make my time a priority. This also works for valuing individual time with my kids and spouse – if I plan it and commit to it it happens, if I just hope it happens then it doesn’t.)
My education doesn’t matter as much as my husband’s – he’s the breadwinner after all. (Truth: We are supposed to be Mothers who Know. That means knowing what’s right and best for our families but also knowing other things and continuing to learn all our lives! How can we be good teachers to our children and exemplify the lifelong learning we want for them if we aren’t learning ourselves?)
I could go on with the lies I believed, and maybe I will in another post. My point is, believing these lies created walls around me and made me feel trapped, small, and miserable. Wherever they came from, I accepted them without questioning, asking my own heart, or asking God what He thinks. In fact, I believed that many of them were actually His marching orders, and I sometimes felt angry at him for putting so many limitations on me and not helping me more to be content, not realizing I was experiencing divine discontent! I had to get to place of desperation in order to be open to the idea that maybe what I thought God wanted for me wasn’t really what God wanted for me, and to ASK him and then LISTEN and not assume I knew.
And that is when I started to slowly, slowly, begin stepping out of that box and knocking down the walls around me, when I realized that I was the one who had put those walls there. My heart had known all along what was right for me. God had been trying to offer me so much more, and He was trying to speak to me through my righteous desires and to give me joy and opportunity, but I had refused. I was afraid. I thought staying in that box would keep me safe – safe from being a Bad Mom and ensure success with my children. I wasn’t happy in that box, but it was my comfort zone and it was scary to knock down those barriers that I thought were protecting me from becoming my fears. In reality, those barriers were keeping me from becoming all that I was born to be.
I continue to discover my own false and limiting beliefs, and I continue to work to bring them down. A whole world has been opened up to me, and I feel like there is so much freedom available to me now. I still have boundaries in my life, but for the first time I am examining them all and only keeping the ones that are based on true principles. Some true principles that I have found that I base my boundaries on now:
1.Love God with all your heart, mind, might and strength. If I do this, I will be communicating with Him daily, receiving direction from Him, and obeying Him. I will be led to give my time, thoughts, energy, and love to the right people and causes at the right times because it will all be out of love for Him and not out of fear or to please others.
2.Love your Neighbor as Yourself. To do this well, I have to love myself and take care of myself, and then I can effectively love all my fellow children of God better. If I am loving my neighbor (my kids, husband, friends, enemies are all included in this), I will do what is right by them and fulfill my roles in relation to them in the right way.
3. Keep your Covenants. This means keeping my promises to God and to my family, who I am thankfully bound to forever, fulfilling my stewardships with all my heart, and living the principles I have promised to live.
These are the principles and boundaries. Within these, the application is directed by the inspiration I receive from the Lord, from counseling with my husband, and from learning by study and faith. This creates individual boundaries that are true and freeing, not restricting. While most of my choices look the same as before, the difference in living from love instead of fear is an amazing feeling.
Empowering Action: Evaluate each limitation you have placed on yourself. Is it based on true principles or on fears? If you’re not sure, ask God to tell you if it’s his will for you to keep that limitation. Feel and trust the answers. Chances are, there are walls that don’t need to be there. If that’s the case for you, I lovingly invite you to Get out of that Box!