About three years ago my husband accepted a new position in his work that brought us back to our home state of Colorado. We said farewell to a church we loved and to our many friends. We had done life together for six years; celebrating births, laughter, adoption, heartaches, and blessings. As we said good-bye to that season of life and began our next season at “home,” I never predicted that loneliness would become my struggle.
“Hmmmm… Something new, a stay-at-home mom who struggles with loneliness,” said no one ever. My post today is perhaps not a new one, but in truth it is incredibly hard for me to write. I have been a stay at home mom for eight years and love my daughter and son so very much. But I feel the deep need to be authentic and confess that for much of the beginning of my stay at home journey, I was rarely at home. Instead I was “super-Christian.” I did Awana’s Mondays, Women’s Bible study on Tuesday days and small group Tuesday nights, Wednesday nights I volunteered, and Friday I ran a MOPS group to serve other moms. This was of course on top of our family’s church attendance and Bible study on Sunday mornings.
All of this “service” and involvement was my form of hiding. However, at the time it was hard for me to see it as hiding. I was known, had friends, my children were loved by our church body, and I could reach out to new moms who were learning to be at home. However, truth be told I was hardly ever in my home and frankly felt afraid that if I were to stop doing any of these pieces of my Christian walk I would fail at motherhood and in being good enough for the God I professed to follow.
Colorado became a blank slate, a place to begin praying about what my Father had for me and for my family. I felt God place on my heart deeply that he desired for me to homeschool my kids. Are you kidding? Homeschooling scared the daylights out of me because it meant I could not participate in my favorite form of hiding to avoid failure, over commitment. Homeschool meant being at home to make sure school got done. Never in motherhood had I faced the prospect of really being alone in my home every day with my kids. So if I was going to be home all day I needed to find things to fill our evenings. However, as I prayed about this prospect, doors for these opportunities began to close. Time commitments didn’t work, my husband’s travel schedule increased, and staring me in the face was the truth that God was calling me to a new season of life. Not one filled with external activities and accolades for being such a “good” person, but a season of really looking at who I am when I am alone and a season of true growth.
Fast forward three years and I will tell you that my walk with God is real and big. Not because I am important in my church and everyone knows my name, in fact I think I know about 16 families at my church of 15,000. My life is filled with a quiet chaos. It’s filled is chores, math, reading great books, and cuddles. It is filled with daily time with God, talking to him and facing my real stuff. Not scrubbing the outside of my cup trying to get by, but a real relationship filled with truth and grace. So much amazing grace! You see I let go of the lie that I needed to earn my place in Heaven. I changed my motivation for serving others and serving my church. I do quiet things like church mailings, and helping fill bags with items for sales. No one sees this but my kids and that I have found is enough.
I am not saying there are not incredibly hard days where I go to bed feeling like a failure and that I just want somewhere to hide. But that is when my Father steps in and reminds me that he called me to be at home and I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. And the amazing thing is that when he speaks to me, I am not too busy to hear it and allow it to change me. God has used loneliness to draw me to himself and that is something I am thankful for every day, even the hard ones.
“Cease striving and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10 (NASB)