When I was pregnant with my first child, just a few months from delivery, I passed a colleague in the hall one day who had recently returned from maternity leave. “How’s motherhood?” I asked. I’ll never forget her answer: “It’s the best thing I’ve ever done. And it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”
It wasn’t long before I knew exactly what she meant. Motherhood is a joy. But not every aspect of motherhood is enjoyable.
Maybe it’s the practical burdens like lost sleep, juggling work and family, and the never-ending pile of laundry. Or maybe it’s the personal burdens like leaving a job you love, feeling isolated from community, and trying not to feel empty when you constantly pour yourself out. Perhaps it’s an occasional struggle that pops up in the particularly hard moments, or perhaps you’ve been in a long season of lacking joy in motherhood. How can we walk faithfully—even joyfully—through the unenjoyable parts of motherhood?
Clinging to What’s True
Holding fast to our identity in Christ, remembering the joy of our salvation, and understanding the value of our work in the home as part of God’s kingdom are all helpful encouragements. But to be honest, I’ve often struggled to apply these theological truths in the hard moments. When I’m scrubbing vomit out of a rug at midnight or trying to decide which of my three of my children to help first when they all call “MOM!” at the same time, I need a practical way to cling to what’s true.
Praying Scripture helps me lift my eyes to the Lord for help (Ps. 121:1–2). It encourages me over time as I see the Lord answer my prayers. And it’s available to me anytime, anywhere—whether it’s 3 a.m. in the nursery chair or 3 p.m. in the carpool line. Here are four verses to pray when you don’t enjoy motherhood.
Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
The psalmist suggests the key to rejoicing and being glad all of our days is to begin each day satisfied by the love of the Lord. When our satisfaction and joy are dependent on the baby napping or us completing our to-do list or a teen being grateful for our sacrifice and care, motherhood won’t often be joyful. But when we’re satisfied in the Lord, motherhood can be hard and we can still rejoice. Begin each day praying, “Father, satisfy me with your love that I might rejoice and be glad today.”
2 Corinthians 9:8
God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.
The popular catchphrase “All the things” can be applied to so many aspects of motherhood. We miss freedom and friends and all the things. We’re responsible for cooking, cleaning, carpooling, and all the things. Our toddler is getting into all the things. Our teen is anxious about all the things. Even with budgets and discount codes, we’ll never be able to afford all the things. If we try to carry all this in our own strength, the weight of expectations and responsibilities crushes our joy.
Instead, we can look to our all-sufficient God and pray, “Father you are able. Please make all grace abound to me, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, I can abound in every good work you have given me to do.”
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
I don’t know about you, but I tend not to enjoy things I’m not good at. That’s part of the struggle with motherhood. We may have a successful career or be an accomplished athlete or artist yet feel like we’re failing at motherhood. Just when we think we’ve figured out one phase or issue, everything changes. Or just when one child comes through a difficult season, a new problem arises with a different child. Constantly feeling like we don’t know what to do is discouraging.
Thankfully, God—who is the source of all wisdom and knowledge and who knits our children together and knows them intimately—gives wisdom generously to anyone who lacks it. Ask him for it daily: “Father, I lack wisdom. Please give it to me generously, especially for the work of motherhood.”
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Some of us experience joy in motherhood more easily than others. Part of that is a function of our own personalities. Part of it stems from the presence or absence of various challenges with our kids. And some of it relates to any number of other factors in our lives—like finances, health, relationships, and housing.
God gives wisdom generously to anyone who lacks it. Ask him for it daily.
But all moms who are in Christ can have joy as the Holy Spirit works in us to bear fruit.
That means we don’t need to become the perfect mom or have the perfect child to have joy. We can rest in the Spirit’s work and pray, “Father, please bear fruit in me today by the work of your Holy Spirit—especially the fruit of joy.”