I love being a mom. I love it. I love seeing my friends post on Instagram their joys of motherhood: The baby snuggles, the matching outfits, the days at the zoo, the budget friendly design spaces, and even the messes too. All the little moments they deem “Instagram worthy”.
As much as I enjoy it, there have been times when I have taken a step back from social media for various reasons. At times because I thought it was distracting me, overwhelming me, or I was just too busy.
But through my own journey in this digital age, I have never wanted to be quick to condemn social media just because it sometimes brings out something in me that I don’t like.
I never ever want to miss that there is something to be celebrated about what can sometimes appear to be picture perfect motherhood.
For there is an element of God’s common grace in joyful social media posts.
That mothers around the world find facets of enjoyment in being a mother is a beautiful thing. Whether it is in a silly face, the first day of school, figuring out how to double French braid or sharing that special thing she did with her kids – that is something to rejoice in.
James 1:17 says:
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”
It is the mark of an others focused person to affirm and embrace not only the fullness of motherhood that God has given you, but the fullness He has also given other mothers.
But there is an emptiness we can feel in motherhood too. I know I have felt it at times. Especially in this digital age where pictures are often staged and perceptions can be skewed. And there is just no way around how images or posts can often make us feel. Because while motherhood is full, it can also be empty.
When all you see is picture perfect, and you are struggling with something, sometimes the easiest thing is to try to bury those feelings or harbor bitterness towards those who have what you don’t.
But what if instead of wallowing in our own emptiness or begrudging others for the good gifts God has given them, what if we stared our emptiness in the face?
What is your emptiness? What is the thing that hurts?
Maybe it’s seeing the mom snuggling her baby which only reminds you of the babies you have lost. Maybe it’s the home you will never have or the toys or baby gear you cannot afford. Or maybe it’s the family vacations that “get you,” or the household orderliness. Or maybe it’s all the things you feel you cannot be. You don’t want to feel this way, but you do. So what do you do?
Do you run away? Do you lash out? Do you stuff it down? Do you miss out on rejoicing with someone else?
As mothers in Christ we must do one thing. We must face it. We must face our empty. We must face the darkness in us.
For it is in our weakness – our emptiness – our nothingness – that God changes us so that He can use us for His purposes.
It is in the moments of the “have nots” that we rediscover all that we have in Him.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.” – 2 Cor 12:19
But how can we find the strength to do this? And this is what I have found to be so very helpful: We can embrace the darkness because Christ already did it for us. He suffered for us. He went to the cross for us.
And because of that, we are children of light who do not have to dwell in the darkness. We don’t have to be slaves to our selfish desires or our feelings.
Galatians 5:1 says that Christ has set us free.
While we still struggle with our sinful nature, we do not have to be enslaved to it because our darkness is overshadowed by His glory. We are “being transformed into the same image from glory to glory.” As we focus on Christ and His Word instead of ourselves, He does a work in our hearts, making us more like Him. He sheds His light in the dark parts of us and gives us a joy in Him and a genuine love for others.
Sometimes I wonder how Mary was able to stand at the cross. How was she able to stare the darkness in the face as she watched her Son die? Maybe because she knew He was going to conquer it. Maybe because she remembered what the angel Gabriel had spoken and what the prophets had said. Maybe she believed in the darkness that He was going to make it all better.
And so we stand as mothers who are in Christ. We thank God for our joys in light of His grace and we face our darkness knowing God is molding us and shaping us in the light of His glory. For now we see dimly, but soon we shall see face to face.
“For You light my lamp; The Lord my God illumines my darkness.” Psalm 18:28
Because it is there He wants to meet us. It is that place He is touching and wants to heal. It is His strength He is offering. There in the darkness, we find Him, where we never thought we would. And we realize that social media, or whatever it is, is just another tool God is using to change us. For we are far from picture perfect mothers and we should never try to fit that label. For Christ has set us free, and we are free indeed.