Five weeks, two days.
That’s the amount of time I have left until my life changes forever, and the son we’ve been (im)patiently waiting for is due to be here.
When we found out we were pregnant and started telling family and friends, their first question was: “Are you excited?”
Of course, we were excited. But, we also had a pretty diverse smattering of other emotions: happiness, uncertainty, insecurity, and fear. And to be honest, most days, fear was my primary emotion. I had fear about finances. I had fear about my ability to be a mom. I had fear about labor and breastfeeding and child raising and discipline and Kindergarten (because yes, apparently I can be fearful about a future that’s five years away). I had fear about my ability to work in full-time ministry and somehow still be a good mom.
My fear tank was pretty full.
And then, other people started giving me their opinion about motherhood – breastfeeding and baby classes and Bumbos and bottles and everything in between – and I very nearly lost my mind.
Now, I can take people’s opinions on whether to get a Solly or an Ergo, disagree with them, and not lose sleep over it. (P.S. Solly…Ergos…There is a whole “mom” language I still have yet to learn. Who knew there were about 45 different pieces of cloth you can wrap your kid in that all cost an absurd amount of money for being a piece of fabric?!) But, it was their opinions that probed at my deepest insecurity – my ability to be a full-time ministry leader and a good mom – that seemed to cut me at the core.
After a few weeks of hearing renditions of these statements -- “Wait, you’re planning on coming back to work? Really?” and “A whole bunch of us were talking about how you think you’re coming back to work and have a bet going for how long you’ll last.” – well, I just about gave up.
Now, here’s the thing: I’ve never felt like I’m supposed to be a stay-at-home mom. To be quite honest, I’ve never really hung out with a newborn for an extended period of time or even babysat kids when I was in high school – kids sort of terrify me, and I don’t really know what to do with them if they don’t want to sit down and read a book for more than five minutes. (From my limited interactions with the creatures, I’ve learned that they don’t really “sit” and do anything ever.)
However, when I first found out I was pregnant, I made a quick decision to submit that decision to God. Although I didn’t sense being a full-time SAHM (stay-at-home-mom, obviously – see I’m learning my “mom language” lingo!) was the right fit, I submitted that part of my life to God and agreed to do that if he felt like that’s what I was supposed to do. After a few weeks in prayer, it was pretty clear that I wasn’t – at least right now.
So, it was settled. I’d have the baby, take a few months off, and then get back to work. I felt confident that God honored that decision, and I felt confident that it worked well for me and for my family.
Yet, the fear still raged on. I’d have a 13-hour day at work and drive home at 9 p.m. paralyzed by the fear that my child wouldn’t know me if I continued to work long hours. I’d hear people’s comments about my choice to go back to work in my head, over and over and over, and suddenly find myself believing that they were the experts on what I should do with my life.
The devil got to me, and he got to me good.
We all tell ourselves a narrative, and when I peeled back the layers of mine, I was telling myself one thing: you’re not qualified. When I’d struggle at work, I’d convince myself I wasn’t qualified to even be a leader, much less a leader and a mom. When I’d struggle at home, I’d convince myself I wasn’t qualified to be a good wife, much less a good mom. Over and over, my narrative began to be filled with doubt, with insecurity, with guilt, and with fear, fear, and more fear.
And then one day this summer, I was teaching a small group of leaders about the hard parts of leadership, about having perseverance, about not giving up, and suddenly, these words flashed through my mind and quickly became etched in my heart: Don’t disqualify yourself from what God has already qualified you for.
They were words that were deeply comforting for me, and I pray they are words for you, too: Don’t disqualify yourself from what God has already qualified you for.
I believe God qualified me to be a leader. I believe God qualified me to be a wife. I believe God qualified me to be a mom.
And if God qualifies you, no one and nothing can stand against you.
In 2 Timothy 1:7, we’re reminded of this:
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear or timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”
Those words are an anchor, a reminder of an important truth – our fear never comes from God. God fills us with power, love, and self-discipline. He guides our steps for what he’s already qualified us for. He loves us and encourages us and equips us to do everything he’s laid out for us.
So when our fear is strong, remember our God is stronger.
Don’t give up.
Don’t lose hope.
Don’t let your insecurities hold you back.
Don’t disqualify yourself from what God has already qualified you for.
You are called. You are able. You are qualified.
And so I am.
Let’s live as the qualified -- our identities firm in the One who created us, our confidence strong in the One who saves us, and our purposes secure in the One who calls us.