The following is an excerpt from my book Unique – A Mother’s Journey. This section is part of chapter 6 “Strength of Convictions” in which I write about issues of conscience and convictions in motherhood, and what God taught me through my struggles.
This part is called “Control and Fear in Motherhood” as it’s about how sometimes I felt afraid when I couldn’t control outcomes in certain situations that I wanted to control as a mother, and what God taught me about surrendering to Him as an ongoing process.
Control and Fear in Motherhood
“At the beginning of my motherhood journey, I didn’t see myself as fearful. I didn’t immediately fear the children would fall if they climbed onto a piece of furniture. When they were babies, I didn’t worry about what they would go through someday as toddlers, pre-schoolers or teenagers. I just lived one day at a time.
But looking back, I know that sometimes I was afraid. It’s just that my fears were related to bad habits, and areas I wanted to control but couldn’t.
One thing Luís and I were both strong about from the beginning of our parenting journey was the routine-led environment at home.
Although I came from a background where routines were common and Luís didn’t, he adopted them because he found great merit in the children having daytime nap routines, which protected them from overtiredness, and set bedtimes, which meant Luís and I could have quiet evenings together.
This was a great relief to me because it meant that when we were out and about, Luís was on board with keeping to the routines.
There was one difference between him and me, however. While I got stressed in situations when we had to go off routine, Luís managed to remain calm and confident.
For instance, on one occasion when Abby was two and Priscila four months old, we were invited to a wedding where Luís would be the best man and I the chief bridesmaid (or rather the equivalents of this as it was a Portuguese wedding). I was thrilled. But also, afraid.
I knew from experience that the cutting of the cake would probably happen at around midnight or one in the morning. How will my babies cope with such a late night? was one of my anxious thoughts.
Luís really helped me, though. He reminded me that it was just a one-off experience. Yes, maybe the children would take a few days to recover, but he would help me cope with the children’s overtiredness.
He thereby showed me where my trust lay. I was trusting in my controlled routines more than in God. Of course, we both still held the position that we needed to be good stewards and establish routines in our day-to-day life for everyone to get their much-needed rest. But in life situations that required changes to routine, I needed to trust God for the outcome.
The wedding was lovely and even though the girls were exhausted by the end, they managed to deal with it very well. The next few days were tiring, but God’s grace strengthened us.
So much so, that I don’t remember much about those days, except that there was some whining and difficulty getting to sleep (overtired children are a conundrum!).
Another situation in which I felt fear was related to the children’s dietary habits. In Chapter 3, I wrote about how I ensured my children had a healthy diet as a matter of conscience. And it was. But when there was a change to our diets or someone gave the children something less healthy, I feared what lack of consistency would do to them.
Or that eating sugary foods might affect their sleep. Or that they would associate certain people with having treats, and then remember me as a mother who gave less enjoyable healthy foods. Ungodly fear took hold of me, like cancer spreading and affecting every part of me.
I believe ungodly fear is a common temptation for followers of God. It’s the very reason, I believe, that “do not fear” is one of the most frequent commands in the Bible. God is constantly showing His children to trust and fear Him alone. Yet, it’s a process.
In my own life, as I’ve grown in security and God has worked in me, He has dealt with a lot of my ungodly fear and control. And yet, sometimes I’m tempted to fear (and sometimes I fall!).
The Enemy would want to shame me in this area. Make me feel like I’m not a “good” Christian because I feel afraid at times. So, I’m tempted to hide my fear. Pretend it’s not there.
But I’ve found that the only way for me to confront and deal with my fears is to be honest about them. That means confessing my fears to God and sometimes to others.
This puts me in a better position to repent for my lack of trust in God when that’s the core issue. And I’m in a better position to acknowledge my deep need for a saviour who will empower me, so I don’t fall into the dark place of fear.
So, while I may struggle with fear at times, or feel fear as a temporary state, I’m not to be in a constant state of fear. I’m not to be in fear. Because I’ve not been given a spirit of fear but a spirit of power, love and a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7)
The way I know to fight the fear that I feel tempted to give in to at times is to use the armour of God. In my moments of temptation, I’ve found that I need to go to God in my position of righteousness in Jesus, take a stand in faith, holding on to the gospel of peace that makes me right with my Father, holding on to the truth and using the sword of the Spirit – which is the word of God.”
Excerpt from Unique – A Mother’s Journey