On August 21st, 2015, I welcomed my third-born child into the world. Not even 13 months earlier, we had welcomed our second-born into the family; and not 19 months before that, was my first child born. In a matter of 30 months, I became a mother to three under three. Now, this would be a challenging situation no matter the circumstances. But, on the day my newborn turned 9-weeks old, my husband, her daddy, left for work: to the field for six and then three weeks without any communication whatsoever. No phone calls; no text messages; no Skype, not even letters. Not only were the struggles of everyday life with a new baby complicated by my other two, needy, young children’s demands, but I now had no sounding board, no best friend, no decision maker or fellow disciplinarian to help balance the scales of parenting and life in general. Add to that extended family living over 3,000 miles and three time zones away, and you can imagine how isolated, overwhelmed, and constantly defeated I felt.
I was suddenly a situationally single-parent of a two and a half year-old in the throes of tantrums and inability to express her emotions of missing her daddy, a fourteen month-old in denial of his new baby sister’s existence, and a newborn who would shriek and scream literally every. single. time she was not in my arms and didn’t ever sleep for more than three hours at a time. Simply put, I struggled moment by moment just to keep my head above water.
Those days were the most demanding, unrelenting, exhausting, out of control of any I had yet experienced in life. Honestly, it took me a solid year to recover fully from those few months of what felt like despair. In those days I constantly found myself, face on the ground, crying— really, screaming— out to God in confusion and frustration over my absolute inadequacy and mental & physical inability to handle what He had put before me. Had He made a mistake in giving me all of these little people to care for and putting us “alone” in this military family? Were my husband & I wrong to take God at His Word in believing that children are a blessing and a heritage? Where was God in all of this, anyway? What did He even want from me? It was one morning when I was too tired to think straight and too overwhelmed to hold back my boiling anger that I once again yelled out at the heavens, “Don’t you know that I can’t DO this, Lord?!” In this moment I heard, undeniably, the Holy Spirit whisper to me, “Exactly: you can’t. But I can.” Right then, God gave me His Word from 2 Corinthians 12:9: “‘My Grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.'”
I learned that God wasn’t asking me to do it all. He was more than willing, more than capable, of taking on every single burden, frustration, fear, and need I had been bearing on my own. He had never intended for me to carry these circumstances on my shoulders which were, clearly, too feeble and overworked to hold any weight for any longer. Instead, He wanted to do the work; He wanted me to surrender my will, my plans, my control, my future to Him and His perfect ways and trust that He would take care of all the details— even when it didn’t seem that He was. It was my own, extreme weakness that was evidence of my need for a loving Savior to take the reins: not just for my ‘ten year plan’ but also for the next ten minutes. Only in Him was I able to accomplish anything of value or worth.
I’d love to tell you that once my husband came home, things normalized and life was again sweet. But that wasn’t, still often isn’t, the case. We are blessed and grateful, but I routinely, daily even, still feel the pull of the ocean’s waves trying to submerge me in the difficulty of this season of babies and military separations. The reminder of God’s strength being perfected in my weakness is an ever-present lesson I must continue to learn. But, in all things, He is faithful and He is strong, and there is no better place for myself and my family to rest than in His all-capable hands of mercy and grace.
I don’t know what you’re facing today. I don’t know what mighty mountains God has called you to climb or what seemingly insurmountable obstacles you are up against. But I do know that, if you are a follower of Jesus, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the Mighty Creator of the heavens and the Earth is for you, and He gives good & perfect gifts (James chapter one assures us of this). Cheesy as the phrase may be, “God doesn’t call the equipped; He equips the called.” So let’s embrace our weakness knowing that, in this, the Lord proves His strength. Ultimately, it’s all about Jesus doing His work and receiving the Glory. What an honor that He allows us to engage in this task!