Sarah K. Butterfield shares a story about adapting well to adversity by asking God for help. Now you can find the Kindred Mom book, Strong, Brave, and Beautiful: Stories of Hope for Moms in the Weeds, wherever books are sold. Subscribe to the Kindred Mom newsletter and receive a preview of the book today! Photo by Yousef Espanioly on Unsplash
This year, my boys have discovered the simple joy of flying paper airplanes. One afternoon, I walked into the dining room and found my 8-year-old and 6-year-old huddled around our laptop watching a very advanced YouTube tutorial for a plane that can fly great distances. Colored paper in hand, they followed the first steps, paused the video, then tackled the next series of complicated folds. From where I sat in the living room, I had a front-row seat to their struggle.
“What? How is he doing that? Mine won’t fold like that!” moaned my younger son.
“Wait, I think I messed up. We have to rewind and start over.”
The boys had been following these steps for about 15 minutes and they were nearing the end when they discovered a problem. I understood their frustration. My youngest melted to the floor in despair. “Nooooo,” he cried as his whole body fell face-first onto the carpet.
“Let me know if you want my help,” I offered as I sipped my tea. My oldest calmly left the living room to fetch two more pieces of paper. He looked determined as he restarted the tutorial. Meanwhile, my other son beat his fists into the rug.
After a minute or two, he pulled himself up with a great sigh and joined his big brother at the table. I smiled into my mug of tea, relieved that he was able to get a handle on his big feelings without any interference from me. A few minutes later, the boys summoned me to the table to help tuck in a corner fold.
And then they were off, zooming around the house with their paper creations.
It wasn’t always this way. My youngest son brings big emotion into whatever he does. His frustration escalates at dizzying speeds as he tries to keep up with his big brother. Many times in the past, we’ve had to come alongside him to name and validate his feelings and to walk him through his choices. I’d like to think that while he was laying on the floor, frustrated with his paper airplane, he could hear my voice echo in his head: “It’s okay. Try again or ask for help.”
We moms are given ample opportunities to develop our resilience—the ability to bounce back from difficult experiences and adapt well to adversity. Just like we develop strong “mommy arms” from carrying our babies and toddlers around, we also develop our capacity for resilience. Every time we turn to God for help in the midst of a frustrating or difficult moment with our kids, we grow more resilient.
At times, like my son, I am tempted to lie down on the floor when I mess up, or the journey of motherhood seems especially hard. But instead, I choose to remember these truths about God.
God is with me. He created me for a purpose, and He is a God of infinite chances.
For a season, raising little ones is part of my purpose. When I first became a mom, looking at my brand new baby’s little face, I was overcome with the importance of my new role. With all of my heart, I wanted to do right by him, to be the mom God wanted me to be. And how quickly I discovered what a difficult calling this is! But because I believe that my work as a mother is sacred and missional, I choose to keep moving forward, even when the road ahead feels too hard.
God didn’t call me to motherhood and then abandon me. Just as I waited until my youngest son asked for my help in building the airplane, God waits for me to turn to Him. He knows the limits of my strength, energy, and patience, and I can rely upon Him to step in when I come to Him in prayer. In the early years of motherhood, I turned to Him as a last resort. I believed the lie of self-sufficiency, of relying on one more cup of caffeine, one more nap, a few more stolen minutes to myself to make everything right. When I finally came to the end of myself and turned to God in desperate prayer, He answered me simply: “I was here all along.”
I learned to pray on the go, to become more aware of His presence in both the magic and mundane of motherhood. On days when I lost my temper, when I snapped or yelled at my boys, I would be overcome by my shortcomings and feel unworthy of being a mom. But God reminds me that His mercies are new every morning. I have the ability to ask for forgiveness at any moment and start anew.
Motherhood is a high calling, a cycle that starts over again with each new day. Though the demands of the job may change, we continue to cultivate the inner qualities required of us—selfless love, patience, and strength. When I get overwhelmed, I know I can listen for the ever-present voice of God saying, “It’s okay. I’m right here. Try again, or ask for help.”
And I lean on the strength only He provides.
Sarah K. Butterfield is the author of “Around the Clock Mom: Make the Most of Your God-Given Time.” She has a heart for empowering women to grow in their faith and be intentional with their time. She and her husband and two boys live in San Diego, where she loves the first sip of coffee, getting lost in a book, and overindulging in ice cream. You can follow her writing and check out the free resources available for download on her website, sarahkbutterfield.com.