Grace for today

by Andrea Cooley

dad and boysAdam had to go on a work trip for 12 days. That meant I was home with the boys for 12 days. That’s a lot of bed times, diaper changes, meals, and tantrums to get through by myself.

He has traveled for work before, but never for this long. And every time he’s gone I am reminded that we are better together! There’s a reason it takes two people to make a baby, raising kids alone is hard!

It would have been really easy for me to wallow in this and complain and feel sorry for myself, and resent Adam for being gone for so long. And I’ll be honest, in the days before he left and even while he was gone, I did all of these things (including a toddler-like tantrum that I am definitely not proud of). But in the end, I knew if I was going to get through the time with at least a little sanity in tact I had to choose to stay positive.

Yes, being home for 12 days with 2 little ones was hard, but in the grand scheme of things, it was a short season, and we got through it. And I realized God could teach me a lot during this time.

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again, it’s hard for me to ask for help. I know I need it, but usually I’m too prideful to admit it.

There was a part of me that thought I should buck up and just get through the hard times by myself, even though I know that’s not what I’m supposed to do.

But there is a voice in my head that says there are plenty of moms who have it harder than I do.

Moms whose husbands are deployed for months on end.

Moms whose husbands are never coming home.

Moms who juggle multiple jobs and multiple kids with little or no help.

Satan uses these comparisons to cripple me. To make me feel less than enough as a mom and wife and friend. He makes me feel like I don’t deserve help and shouldn’t ask for it.

But I knew I couldn’t get through the time alone. I had to ask for help. And that meant I had to let people know what I needed and that was hard.

Even though if I had to, I knew I could change every diaper, cook every meal, and read every book.

But it wouldn’t be pretty and honestly, I don’t believe that is what God wants for me. He created us to need community for a reason, but if I don’t tell people what I need and let them into my long days and hard times, they can’t help me.

I know they want to walk along side me in the same way I gladly walk with them through hard times.

Thankfully, I had someone watch the boys a few afternoons so I could get away and do a little work and have a little “me time”. I also had amazing support from friends who us brought meals, invited us over for play dates, came over after bedtime to hang out, and mowed our lawn.

I know it sounds silly, but part of me felt guilty that I had help. Obviously, Satan knows my weaknesses!

I learned to take it one day and one naptime and one bedtime at a time.

One verse I clung to was Matthew 6:34: “Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

It’s one of those verses I’ve known for a long time, but it’s so sweet when God brings you exactly the verse you need in a certain moment. It’s the reminder that years of Bible study and memorization are so worth it!

I am a worrier by nature. I can’t help but let my mind race to the worst possibility and become consumed by all the little things I can’t control like, what if we get sick while he’s gone, or the boys don’t sleep, or someone gets hurt. The list goes on and on. I repeated this verse countless times each day and prayed for patience and peace and extra energy!

God gave me the grace I needed for each day. I could survive one meal. And one bath time. And one tantrum. And one diaper change. And that’s all I needed to do. When we finished each of these things, I could think about the next one. Yes, I still counted down the days until Adam was home and we could be a family under one roof again, but we got through it moment by moment, hour by hour, day by day.

Some days were harder than others. But that would have been true even if Adam were home. Yes, there will be tantrums and tears (from both the boys and from me) and that’s OK. But if I chose to focus on the smiles and dance parties and stroller walks and sweet moments, the days passed and we were closer to having daddy home.

I also had a stanza from “Great is the Faithfulness” on repeat in my head.

“Strength for today,
and bright hope for tomorrow.
Great is thy faithfulness,
Lord unto me.”

That’s all I can ask for. Strength and grace for today. And I know God is faithful to provide.

Next time you find yourself in a situation that you don’t know how you’ll get through—a hard relationship, a tireless toddler, unexpected sickness, fear, loss, whatever it may be—I pray you’ll remember Matthew 6:34. It doesn’t say your days will be trouble free, but verse 32 reminds us that God knows what we need. He will meet us where we are and provide a way for us to not only get through the hard days, but also grow during them.

That doesn’t mean the days will be easy, but you won’t be alone. And don’t forget to ask for help!

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Andrea Cooley

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