Before I had kids, I knew exactly what kind of a mother I wanted to be.
You know, the kind of mother who kept a perfectly clean house, who served delicious and nutritious meals, who had fun with her kids and never raised her voice.
I wanted to be a super-mom. I wanted to be the best mom that the world has ever seen.
But nine years and three kids into this parenting journey, and I find myself hiding in the bathroom with the door locked, longing for just a couple of moments of peace. I feel overwhelmed, exhausted, depressed at my unmet expectations, and maybe even a little resentful of my circumstances.
Don’t get me wrong! I love my family with all of my heart. But, sometimes, it just feels like life is asking too much. I am ready to turn in my super-mom cape and be done!
Which is perhaps why I love the story of Elijah so much.
Now Elijah was a true super-man prophet.
I mean, seriously, this guy had been fed by ravens, raised a boy from the dead, called down fire from heaven, led in the destruction of 450 prophets of Baal, by prayer ended a 3 and a half year drought, and outrun a king in his chariot.
But, somewhere in the midst of being a super-man prophet, Elijah got tired, overwhelmed, and discouraged. Things weren’t going the way that he thought they would.
After all of the miracles that Elijah had seen God perform, it only took the threat of a wicked queen to send Elijah scurrying for the wilderness, seeking cover under a juniper tree. (No indoor plumbing, you know, so he couldn’t just lock himself in the bathroom.)
The super-man prophet Elijah had “had it”! He was ready to throw in the towel and be done. “It is enough; now O LORD, take my life, for I am not better than my fathers.”
In Elijah’s words, I hear my own heart cry as a mother. “Enough, Lord! I thought I could do this. I can’t! I had ideas of how this should go. It’s not going that way, Lord, and I am ready to be done! I love my kids, but I just can’t handle this anymore.”
Now, Elijah knew God’s power. God would have been perfectly just in raining a little fire down on Elijah for his doubts, frustrations, and resentments. But, God didn’t do that. Instead, God’s response to Elijah is quite surprising:
1. God let Elijah sleep.
Dear mother who is about to give up, how are you doing in the sleep department? As a fellow mother who knows what it is like to go for six months without ever once sleeping through a whole night, may I encourage you to make sleep a priority? Before you laugh bitterly and click away from this post, hear me out.
Making sleep a priority may mean that you have to take your super-mom cape off for a bit. Trust me, I know how difficult that can be. But, you are not going to be able to be a super-mom anyway if you are constantly exhausted.
- Let some things need to go undone.
- Let go of some expectations or responsibilities for a season
- Take naps when you can.
- Ask Grandma or a close friend to take the kids for a day so that you can get some sleep.
- Allow your husband to put the kids to bed a couple of nights a week so that you can get to bed earlier.
If the Prophet Elijah couldn’t go on without getting a little sleep, chances are you can’t either! If you are exhausted, find a way to get a little more rest.
And, while you are at it, ask God to change your focus from yourself and your to-do list so that you can rest in Him. Because, only when we discover that life is all about Him and not about us, can we truly find rest for our souls.
2. God gave Elijah food and drink.
God knew that Elijah not only needed to sleep, but he also needed to eat.
How are you doing in the food and drink department?
Have you ever found yourself yelling or in tears at 4:00 in the afternoon, only to realize that you are living off of two cups of coffee, two cokes, five gummy bears, and six gold fish that you snuck off your toddler’s food tray?
You can’t be a good mom if you are depriving your body of the food it needs to function correctly.
If you feel completely overwhelmed, consider if your diet may be partly to blame. Look for ways that you can take care of your body with healthy food and plenty of water. (And, while you are at it, consider scheduling a physical with your doctor if it has been awhile!)
3. God reminded Elijah of who He was.
Even after receiving rest and physical nourishment, Elijah was still pouting, angry and resentful. God pursued after Elijah and showed him His strength, then spoke to him in a still and quiet voice.
Because, in the end, you can never be a super-mom. But, you can serve a super-God. He will make you all that you need to be for your family. He can see you through when you are ready to give up.
4. God told Elijah that He wasn’t finished with him.
After Elijah has been restored physically and spiritually, God gave Elijah his next assignments.
I am so thankful for a God Who doesn’t give up on us! When you feel like you are done, be assured that God isn’t done with you. He will continue to use you for His good purposes until the day that He is ready to welcome you home into His eternal rest.
5. God gave Elijah a friend.
Have you ever felt the intense loneliness of motherhood?
Elijah complained several times to God that he was alone. God’s response? God assured Elijah that, in fact, 7,000 people in Israel had stayed faithful to God. And then, God gave Elijah Elisha, a young man whom Elijah was to train. I am sure that Elisha was a huge help and comfort to Elijah.
Are you surrounding yourself with Christian friends who can walk this parenting journey with you? You won’t survive on your own.
Be humble enough to let your super-mom cape slip a bit and admit to close friends where you struggle. You just might discover that they are struggling in the same areas! It is so helpful to know that we are not alone.
I love how God lifted Elijah back up when he was exhausted, depressed, resentful, and completely overwhelmed! God let Elijah sleep, gave him food, reminded Elijah of Who He is, gave Elijah his next assignment, and provided Elijah with a friend and companion.
I know that God can do the same for you. Will you make this a matter of prayer?
By the way, you can find this whole story in 1 Kings 17-19. It is definitely worth the read!
Do you struggle in any of these areas? Do you find it comforting that even a great prophet of God faced similar feelings? I would love to hear from you.
This article originally appeared Path Through the Narrow Gate.