I typically hesitate to speak on behalf of Jesus, because Jesus already spoke well enough for Himself throughout the four gospels. After all, who am I to put words in His mouth? That said, the more I learn about Jesus and the more I experience motherhood, I feel it’s safe to assume Jesus would say these words to you, the weary mama whose tank is nearing empty: I UNDERSTAND.
Isn’t that what we all want, to be understood? But how can He understand the struggles we face in motherhood? He was a man. Fully God, yes, but also fully man. He never had children. He didn’t wake up multiple times a night to nurse a hungry baby or love a puking child through a nasty stomach bug. He didn’t have to clean up the kitchen 19 times a day because his kids were hungry all the time (and they ARE hungry ALL the time). He didn’t have to lay down the law and dole out consequences to his son when found him playing the Xbox for the umpteenth time without permission. How could He understand?
JESUS UNDERSTANDS WHAT IT’S LIKE TO CRAVE SOLITUDE AND REST.(Matthew 4:24-25, Matthew 8:1, Matthew 9:1-2, Matthew 13:1-2, Matthew 14:22-23, Matthew 14:35-36, Matthew 19:1-2)
When Jesus was alone, it was only as a result of Him intentionally making it happen, and even then, solitude and rest weren’t easy to come by. As he started his ministry and it quickly grew, people followed Him everywhere. Everyone wanted something from Him: a word, a touch, an answer, even a miracle. I have to believe that Jesus was a lot like me, a person I’d classify as an outgoing introvert. He could talk to anyone and function well in large group settings, but in order to recharge His batteries He had to get away from people and be with His Father. The problem was, He was hard pressed to find a place of solitude because people simply wouldn’t leave Him alone!
I know you face the same feelings, and every single day, mamas. You love your little people and you understand why they follow you around all day, why they need all the things from you. Like Jesus did, you want to meet their needs, and you know it’s your job to do for them what they cannot do for themselves, and you push through hunger and fatigue and frustration because it’s what you know is right. Your alone time is necessary, but it’s also few and far between, and it only happens when you MAKE it happen. More often than not, though, you find yourself sacrificing your own desires for the needs of the tiny humans who call you Mommy.
And Jesus? HE UNDERSTANDS.
His people wanted His healing, and your people want you to apply bandages to boo-boos. His people wanted answers to life’s most difficult questions, and your people ask 'are we there yet' 97 times between your house and Target. His people wanted His teaching and wisdom, and your people need to be taught how to properly brush their teeth and tie their shoes. It was exhausting for Him, and it’s exhausting for you. HE UNDERSTANDS.
JESUS UNDERSTANDS HOW IT FEELS TO BE LONELY. (Isaiah 53:3)
Before I had children, I didn’t realize it was possible to feel lonely in spite of the fact that I was never alone. Amazingly, I found myself at my most lonely and vulnerably place when I was at home every day, surrounded by little people. Take heart, mamas, because Jesus experienced loneliness too.
Jesus was God in man’s skin, and because He wore our skin, He understands how loneliness feels (Hebrews 2:14, 17). Imagine His life for a moment. He never sinned. As a child, while all of the other kids were cutting up during Hebrew lessons and sneaking out the back window at night to meet their friends, Jesus played by the rules…always (Hebrews 4:15). As he matured and began His ministry, there was no one on His level, no one who could completely understand and know Him and empathize with what He was going through. His peers were wise, but He was wiser. His peers were fairly moral, but He was without any sin. His peers had a limited perspective on life, while He always saw through the lens of eternity. Everyone needed something from Him, and no one could offer Him anything He didn’t already have. Now that must be a lonely experience!
Like Jesus, you’re surrounded by people, and those people, those children, need things from you from sunup to sundown. There’s nothing your children can offer you that you don’t already have. They can hug you and thank you and give you wet kisses, but in the early years of parenting, it’s pretty much a one-way street. You give, they take. And that is a lonely existence. Your children grow in wisdom, but you are wiser. Your kids are learning the difference between right and wrong, but you already see it clearly. No matter how they might try, your kids are incapable of knowing you fully, and it’s impossible for them to always understand exactly who you are. You’re isolated and bound to feeding schedules and naptime routines, and adult interactions are limited in number. Motherhood can be a lonely existence, and I have to think walking this dusty ground as God in flesh was lonely, too. HE UNDERSTANDS.
JESUS UNDERSTANDS HOW IT FEELS TO WANT A WAY OUT.(Matthew 26:39, 42)
Don’t get me wrong – Jesus never quit. Never. But He does understand how it feels to be so weary, so empty, that you want to. Right before Jesus was arrested and ultimately taken to the cross, He spent time alone in prayer, and during that time He asked His Father if there was a way out. Jesus knew what was coming, and He wasn’t excited. He’d been ministering to His disciples all night and was tired. He knew that the very men He’d loved and taught and cared for so intentionally would be the same men who would betray Him and deny Him and watch Him hang on a cross on their behalf. He understood the WHY behind what He was destined to do, but that didn’t make it any more enjoyable. So He asked God if there was any way He could get out of it, while at the same time He never wavered in submission to the call God had on His life. Of course, we know that God didn’t change His mind about the redemption of mankind and He didn’t pluck Jesus out of misery and place Him back on His rightful throne, because, as the old adage says, winners never quit, and quitters never prosper.
If we’re honest (and I hope we always are), I think it’s safe to say that all of us as moms experience moments when we want to throw in the towel. We understand, at least a little, the WHY behind our daily grinds and the never-ending monotonous tasks, but even understanding the why doesn’t always make it easier. Motherhood can be summed up by this phrase, as Catherine McNiel so eloquently titled her new book, which is one of my current faves: LONG DAYS OF SMALL THINGS. And while we know it’s what God has called us to and that there is purpose in our pain, I think we all at some point or another whisper, as Jesus did, 'My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me.' Or maybe it’s just me? I don’t think it’s just me. At the very least I know this – HE UNDERSTANDS.
If you’re tired and you need some rest, tell Him about it. If you’re lonely, tell Him about it. If you find yourself in an especially vulnerable moment and you just wish you could find a way out of this whole motherhood thing, tell Him about it. He understands. He empathizes with you and He wants to give you what you need, because He is the one who has called you to the exhausting, privileged role of being His hands and feet to your children. Just as His Father did for Jesus when He wore our flesh and walked our sod, He wants to give you the mercy and grace you need to persevere, if only you’ll ask for it.
"Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." HEBREWS 4:14-16