Complaining Christian Mothers and the “Real” Factor

Lately there has been a trend in the blogging world that I find quite disturbing.  I’ve noticed article after article encouraging mothers to be “real,” while justifying all out complain-fests about one’s children.  Not surprisingly, these articles are completely void of scripture references.

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“It’s okay to not always enjoy being a mother.”

“It’s okay to want time to yourself away from your children.”

“It’s okay to not cherish your children at every moment.”

(I’m adding a link to an article titled, “10 Ways Living With a Toddler Is Like Being In Prison” that was shared by one of my Christian facebook friends.  This article was shared a week after I originally posted this, and is an example of the problem.)

While I’m not arguing in the least that all mothers from time to time might feel this way, I am stating that it is not right to justify sinful behavior.  Most often Christian ladies are the ones doing the justifying!

But is this behavior sinful?  The above statements have primarily to do with selfishness and an absence of joy.  Two things that are sinful…we must turn from them.

Some verses on selfishness…

Psalm 119:36    Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain.

Proverbs 18:1    An unfriendly man pursues selfish ends; he defies all sound judgment.

Romans 2:8    But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.

Romans 15:1-2    We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.

1 Corinthians 13:4-6    Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

Galatians 5:19-21    The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Philippians 2:1-4    If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

James 3:13-15    Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil.

James 3:16-17    For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.

My, that is a lot of verses about selfishness!  When we complain about our children (especially publically) we are basically saying that we want things to be more comfortable for ourselves in some way, shape, or form.  That is selfishness in a nutshell.

  Some verses about joy…

James 1:2     Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,

Philippians 4:4    Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice!

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18     Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all
circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

God’s will for us is to be joyful always.  Can you complain and be joyful at the same time?  Try it.  I just did and it didn’t work out to well!

Do everything without complaining and arguing,

Philippians 2:14

Giving thanks always for all things.

Ephesians 5:20

God’s Word clearly states that we should not complain, we should and give thanks for all things.  Meaning, we should thank Him for sleepless nights, runny noses, bad attitudes, and messy bathrooms.  This is a hard pill to swallow, but if God has brought us to a situation, we can be sure that He has a reason behind it that we might not understand.   His purposes are being fulfilled in us, and we should be thankful for everything, always!

Mommas, when we are trying to keep it “real” online, we are actually showing off our lack of joy and selfishness.  Just because it is suddenly cool to complain about our children doesn’t mean that we should.  Shouldn’t we be encouraging other moms in the Lord, and not be giving them a free pass to sin?  Our gracious Heavenly Father gave us this life…when we complain we are acting like we don’t believe that He works all things together for our good.

Believe me, I have tough days.  Sometimes parenting is hard work!  But shouldn’t we be encouraging our sisters in the Lord, instead of commiserating with them?

Read the follow up post here, titled “Joyful Mothering and the Real Factor.”

Comments are moderated, and comments that either consist of unbiblical rebuttals, or that do not involve “taking all thoughts captive and obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5) will not be published.  My hope is to encourage sisters in Christ to be Christ-like in all things, and in all thoughts.  Thank you for your understanding.

Written by Nicole

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125 Thoughts on “Complaining Christian Mothers and the “Real” Factor

  1. What a great post! I’ve not noticed what you have in the blog world (I don’t read many blogs), but I DO notice it in the real world…with my friends, neighbors, family. People just don’t get why I homeschool and don’t want ‘time to myself’ during the day. These are just the verses I needed for my own encouragement and to share with others!
    Thanks,
    Ashley

    • Nicole on August 7, 2013 at 4:34 pm said:

      Thanks for the kind words Ashley! I’ve seen it mostly on facebook, a lot of my Christian friends share these articles and they show up in my newsfeed. I truly don’t understand it!

  2. Thank you. I needed this more than you can know.

  3. Lauren on August 7, 2013 at 6:09 pm said:

    This post is a very timely blessing for me. Thank you! I am having a hard time right now “blending” our three adopted children and my four biological children. It is a very emotionally draining experience dealing with the behavior problems of our three new children. I was feeling robbed of my joy and struggling with a selfish heart. I know that I was in sin and I am praying for help denying my flesh. Your encouragement and the scripture you shared is just what I needed. Thank you, may God bless you for your steadfastness to His word.

  4. Janet Olson on August 7, 2013 at 6:55 pm said:

    I agree whole heartedly. What I think is happening is that those who are posting those blogs or making these statements are getting confused about the fact that as mothers we still need to take care of ourselves, so that we can be better mothers, we are not to complain about the kids. It is okay to take time for yourself, but not with an attitude of “I deserve this”, instead the attitude should be “it’s okay for me to do this and will make me a better mother.”

    • Beverley Bouchard on August 8, 2013 at 8:15 am said:

      I agree, it is about our heart….Jesus took time away to care for himself and reconnect with his Father…..We can too :)

  5. It is hard being a parent. It is very hard being a parent. There are days when I a wiped out emotionally and physically. For me getting real just means showing our real life, showing that I am not perfect. My supper burns, my kids hate what I cook sometimes, sometimes I don’t put on the smile when I should, sometimes I do lose my temper and shouldn’t. That’s real. But, it’s also very clear that in those moments I am being me in the weak human flesh not me walking close to my Savior. I try very hard to show my real moments but also to show why they happen. I point it all back to my Creator.

    Sure I would like to spend all day reading a good book. But then I look up, see the smile on my child’s face at the picture of Mommy he just drew and that desire goes away. I wouldn’t miss this for the world. I love that God is allowing me to have this dream job. Many women can’t have it or don’t want it. It is getting to be that time of year when kids are going back to school and I see the “wahoo, 7 hours of me time” or other such thoughts. I would hate my kids being gone all day like that 5 days a week. I am blessed that we get to homeschool and my kids get to be with me during that time each day. Yes, I have days when the thought of just one more story book makes my head hurt, but I try hard to give that selfish thought to God and realize I chose to have children. I chose to be married. I chose this life. Now I better get on with the gratitude because I am living what so many women only wish they could and I am living what my God has chosen for me.

  6. Honestly I think complaining publicly has become a habit of society. It seems okay to blast ones work, friends, significant others (have seen it on FB) , and children on line. The appalling thing is people often “support” this behaviour or say nothing. In the last year this is a topic I have confronted a “family” member by marriage on and let’s say I am no longer in contact with them. So my response is to lead by example with my fb page, profile, and blog. Only to put things on that are positive. As a mother of a child with special needs sometimes my bad days out weigh the good but you can write about it in an up lifting way that will encourage other moms instead of tearing them down. It’s ones attitude about things that leave an impact.

    Have A Great Thursday!

    Candice

  7. Well said! A lesson God taught me a few years ago and I too have blogged on this topic. http://heleadsmesharon.blogspot.com.au/2012/11/my-heart.html
    How can we expect them to honour and obey us if we continually tell them that we don’t cherish them? The result is abandonment issues and a closer bonding to peers than parents. Peer pressure is only an issue when children are more bonded to their peers than their parents. If we constantly push them away with our words, what are we saying. Out of the heart the mouth speaks. :) Sharon

  8. I basically just want to share every post I find myself reading here! This is excellent, Nicole!

  9. HeatherHH on August 8, 2013 at 8:18 am said:

    Amen! There is a big difference between something being “normal” and something being “okay.” A lot of this would also apply to complaining about husbands because we need to “vent.”

  10. There is definitely a trend toward the selfish in our society, particularly in regards to the difficulties of motherhood. I think it comes back to the heart though, how our hearts perceive our children and motherhood.

    I think motherhood is very different for every woman, and for some it’s easier than for others. I think rather than making women who struggle with motherhood feel guilty for not loving every second of it does nothing better than making them feel justified in their selfishness. Neither help the woman. And I think that’s what we need more of, helping. Less cutting moms down, less allowing self pity.

    Mothers are human, just as human as any one else….and yet trusted with THE most important job in the universe. We fail, we have moments in which we’ve had enough…but what matters most is our heart, our heart for God, for our children.

    • I use the word “human”, not as justification, but explanation as to our failings of reaching Christ’s perfection.

      • Kathy Lundberg on August 8, 2013 at 8:50 am said:

        Jess, your comments were very balanced. Part of our opportunities as fellow Moms are to demonstrate patience and understanding when it is needed. Exhortation when appropriate.

  11. I was reminded of my selfishness and ungratefulness this week in a powerful way. It was one of those evenings where things weren’t going like I wanted and the baby was fussy. I was moaning to my husband about how stressful it is for me to deal with all the messes the kids make. Than a friend texted me. She went thru a miscarriage last year and now she lost another baby. She would probably give anything to be in my shoes with 2 healthy children. It reminded me that I should be cherishing my family. They’re more important than anything else I could do with my time.

    I’ve noticed that when the kids really get on my nerves, it is usually because I’m being selfish or lazy and want to be left alone. When I set my desires aside and make time for them, the stress level goes down and everyone is happier. It helps to start the day off by reading a Bible story, and making a list of what needs done so I don’t waste the day and then end up frustrated and overwhelmed. I have learned this lesson, I just need to consistently DO it! thanks for the reminder.

    • I have noticed that, too! When my kids start to “get on my nerves” I often start to remind myself of the things I love about them and my attitude usually changes immediately! (and theirs usually does, too)

  12. I disagree that mothers who may be discouraged or exhausted are being selfish. Parents need to care for their own physical, emotional and spiritual health. Sharing about those times we are in need is scriptural, in that we need to be able to bear one another’s burdens and lift one another up. How can we do that if no one will share their pain because they are accused of being selfish and sinful? Sharing our needs and burdens is not whining or complaining and too many times the two are confused. I think blogging can be an important outlet for women who don’t have other means of fellowship and I will pray for my sisters in Christ rather than dismiss them as selfish.

    • Nicole on August 8, 2013 at 9:08 am said:

      Phil 2:14 says “to do everything without grumbling or complaining.” I think by bearing one another’s burdens, that means that when we see a struggling sister in Christ we are to come along side and help. If a sister asks us if there are any specific ways to help, we can share our hearts without being the ones initiating the complaint. Does this make sense? Thank you for sharing!

      • I disagree. If we have needs or need encouraged, we have a responsibility to share that need with others. People can’t help encourage us if they don’t know where are discouraged. I’m with Merit on this one and I think that this post does more to make human, sinful moms feel worse about expressing their human-ness than encourage them to be better mothers. Most of the verses you shared about selfishness are far more about selfish gain (greed, ambition) rather than tired moms sharing about how they had a rough day.

        • Emily K on August 8, 2013 at 6:17 pm said:

          I agree with Merit and Aprille on this one.
          Don’t make the burden heavier. Support and encourage, yes, but we can more easily lean on Christ when we admit we have hardships. I think blog posts like this encourage women to clean the outside of the cup and pretend that the inside isn’t as dirty as it actually is. I don’t see Christ here.

          • I am with Merit. I have 12 beautiful blessings from ages 19 down to 2yrs. I have had many things all at once happening in my life and I have needed SO much right now to hear that others also struggle. It does not make me more selfish or that I thrive on other’s failures, it is just reality that when we share each other’s burdens, the load seems more tolerable. I have gone many years hoping other’s would not see that my house was not always clean and that my kids have temper tantrums and don’t always make good choices and I do lose my temper because I am selfish sometimes! I am thankful that I live a life that really provides no outlet for selfishness but it still does creep in! I wanted to be SUPER mom like everyone thought I was. It was when God began to tear down my walls of “self” that things began to change. When I began to open up about my battles and struggles with other women, (it was not because I was griping about my children), it has been because I can see that the world we perceive mom’s to have is not the truth! We ALL struggle and we need to open up and use those struggles to help other’s and share in the real life of being in the real world but not of the world. God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble. When we are humble before each other and telling of our weaknesses, God will bless us. For everything there is a season and I by NO means am saying that motherhood should be continual complaining and a down spirit but I do believe that there are different seasons of life that we mother’s need to share and let other ladies know they are not alone! I got tired and weary of trying to keep it all together. This blog post made me feel guilty for needing to put up my “image” again. My freedom has come knowing that Christ is there standing with me through my failures when I am NOT thankful that I have 4 more loads of laundry to do and it is 10 pm! We need to repeat the verses and keep them in our heart but also be real to other’s so what they see is Jesus getting us through those times.

        • Yes, that’s just what I was thinking. We’re not mind readers – if another person doesn’t tell us they;re struggling, how can we know? It’s not always obvious, especially if people have been told not to complain about things, so they put on a smiley face and tell their friends everything is just fine.

          It’s possible to tell people you’re struggling, that you need prayer, that you’re angry or sad, without complaining. I can make a simple statement of fact (“I’m feeling angry”) about my emotional, physical or spiritual condition, without it being a whinge (“maaaannn, my kids are driving me crazy…they’re such brats…did I tell you what that little tornado did to MY room yesterday???”). Tone of voice and the number of people I’ve repeated the same information to would be important in this scenario!

          Personally I have my husband and one special confidante that I talk with about these things. My friend in particular will soon challenge me on my attitude if I’m whining or complaining, and offer words of hope for my situation, and I can do the same in return. We’re close enough that it’s safe to do that. I’ve learned the hard way that holding in every negative or difficult feeling because it’s “unChristian” is really unhealthy, so I’m grateful for these 2 relationships. Ironically, being able to tell them how I’m doing and get their input better enables me to see and demonstrate where my hope is found, and compared to a year ago, I’m much quicker to remember for myself that yes, things are challenging today, but Christ is my anchor. And of course, the most important thing is that I can go to my Daddy in heaven and tell Him what’s going on in my heart, and get new strength to face the challenges of that day.

        • Aprille, I hear what you and Merit are saying! I also don’t hear Nicole saying it’s every wrong to share about our bad days, just not to complain about them.

          I’ve been guilty of saying something like this:
          “All my kids have done today is whine! It’s so loud I can’t hear myself think. I just need to get away, away from the mess, away from little hands constantly needing me. I’m just so tired. Is it nap time yet?”

          What I should say is something like this:
          “We had a rough day today. I feel like I need to get away, but I know I really just need God’s peace. Please, pray that the Lord would give me patience and joy even when my body and my heart are tired. I need to hear God speak peace even when my kids are too loud for me to hear anything else.”

          They say the same thing. I’m struggling. My kids are loud. I’m tired. And I need encouragement! But they are so different in their heart attitude. One is full of complaining, and one recognizes my own struggle and my need for God’s strength.

          • Denise on August 12, 2013 at 3:23 pm said:

            I have been following this as I did comment also, saying thanks for it as I needed to hear/read this that particular day. I feel a lot of people only read the words not the meaning or sentiment behind the post. I personally took it as quit blaming the kids, hubby, whomever and realize it is your own problem and go to God for guidance and comfort. Instead of ” these kids” make it an I statement. Own your own feelings/emotions and seek guidance and comfort instead of whining and complaining. Just my opinions and what I took from it, nook looking to argue, bicker, or hurt anyone.

    • TERA WOLF on August 8, 2013 at 10:43 am said:

      I agree with Merit. I think the key is balance. I’m a homeschooling mom of 8. I love my kids and husband and can’t imagine being anywhere else. However, after 18 years of homeschooling (so far), I have come to the place where I don’t have to pretend to be perfect all the time. I think sharing my struggles (not in detail necessarily – but just in that I have them), lets the younger moms know that they’re not alone or a failure. I don’t think complaining or expressing a need for a little alone time should be the constant theme of a Christian woman’s life, but there are occasions when life is hard, and I think it would be sinful to fake it, giving the impression to others that I have it all together. That is pride in my opinion. Anyway, I get what the author is saying, and we should examine our hearts in light of scripture, seeking strength for the tasks from the LORD.
      2 Corinthians 12:9-11
      New International Version (NIV)
      9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

      • Nicole on August 8, 2013 at 10:47 am said:

        There is a difference between complaining and sharing our hearts. Instead of “I’m just so tired all of the time,” we could say, “At times I’m tired at the end of the day, but The Lord has always sustained me by His grace.” Thanks for sharing!

        • Emily K on August 8, 2013 at 6:53 pm said:

          Whenever I hear your last sentence, I get the impression that the person saying it is acting or pretending.

          “I’m just so tired all the time”

          Is not a sinful thing to say.

          The Psalms are full of agony and grief and pain. I would encourage the moms to cry out to God for help.. and give them scriptures about how God will sustain them. They may have forgotten them in their struggles.

          We recently moved in with my parents to take care of my dad who has stage 4 Parkinsons disease and dementia full with halucinations. Those first days he was home he also had a stomach bug which gave me the extra tasks of catching vomit and changing his diapers. We had just moved in a few days earlier and my kids were adjusting to their new home. I was by no stretch of the imagination holding it all together-well, actually I was holding it together while doing the work. I’ll never forget the car ride to the hospital so dad could get IV fluids. I was driving the car, catching my dads puke in a bucket, and my mom was in the backseat crying hysterically. I was so very strong while doing it, but afterwards.. wow. God sure got me through that situation, but when it was all over and I went home that night, . I collapsed in my husbands arms and cried hysterically and complained that “I am just so tired”… . And while God DID sustain me and got me through it and I know that and praise Him for it at the time, if someone were to have told me to to put a smile on my face and be thankful, and that I was sinning by complaining….well, that wouldn’t have been helpful at all. It probably would have driven me further into despair. My best friends were there to tell me that God hadn’t forgotten about me.. they were there to tell me not to grow weary in doing good. They gave me encouraging bible verses. In other words, they lifted my burden. And in those hard days, my husband gave me a ladies night out with some of my gal pals at a coffee shop and I can’t tell you how good it was for me to get out of the house for a couple of hours and enjoy myself.

          Now, thats not just basic parenting. There was extra burden going on there. But I think that when women are complaining, its better to be encouraging, especially if they are complaining about being so tired. They probably are. And at that time they probably need reminders of Gods faithfulness and goodness.

    • Cindee on August 9, 2013 at 1:29 am said:

      If all that is happening is that we’re sharing about rough days or what have you, then we are just complaining. Unless the so-called sharing results in leading each other to the foot of the cross to lay that burden down, then we shouldn’t be doing it. We are called to bear one another’s burdens but we must bear it to the One.

    • Cindee on August 9, 2013 at 1:34 am said:

      Excellent post. Thank you! Such a good reminder to hold every thought and action captive. Thanks for boldly speaking truth.

    • I think it would be one thing to share that you are having a rough time and ask for prayer. Its another thing to complain.

  13. I agree with most of what you say. A few thoughts… I feel the verses about children being a blessing are in a general sense. They will not be a blessing every moment of the day. When my children are bickering with each other they are NOT being a blessing- they are, in fact, showing their own sinful natures. ( a curse) They have now become part of my sanctification. ;) I do not need to enjoy that moment in time when brother breaks sister’s toy and much wailing ensues. It is a time for training. The joy the Bible talks about isn’t a joy that comes from circumstances (like having children). It is a joy that comes from the LORD. It is the knowledge that the strength we need to parent comes from the Lord, and that even when we fail He has already forgiven us. I do agree that complaining is a result of a selfish heart and we should not be complaining about our children. I do think it is okay to say, “I’ve had a rough day.” (or week, month, year!!!) We all need some encouragement some days. Instead of complaining, we as mothers should be asking for prayer for how to deal with our children in a godly, loving manner.

    • Actually even when children are being sinful and ugly to eachother, the Lord can and does use those times to BLESS us as mothers!!! How much of a blessing is it to cultivate patience or to help those kids to seek peace with one another?! Being blessed doesn’t mean being happy, but it is allowing God to use all our trouble for his Glory and that is a blessing on us!!!
      When we complain about a blessing it becomes a burden!

  14. christina on August 8, 2013 at 8:50 am said:

    I would like to see what complaining while being joyful actually looks like when Phil 2:14 says to do everything without complaining and arguing. I know I am guilty of complaining everyday, I would just like to see how you can do it while being joyful, seems like a contradiction.
    Otherwise, this is a great post with lots of encouraging verses!

    • Nicole on August 8, 2013 at 9:02 am said:

      My point was that you can’t complain and be joyful at the same time. It is a contradiction! Thank you for sharing! :-)

  15. Yes! This is so true!
    Ill give a great example of what it means to receive joy from the Lord and turn away from selfish ambition. The last 3-4 days have been very difficult, long and exhausting for me as a mother and wife. My children were almost all sick (3 out of 4) over the weekend. My husband was out of town for part of the time. A teething 16 mo old and a toddler who was up no less then 5 times during the night because of a diaper rash. And did I mention that Im 6 mo pregnant. Yes I was one tired mother yesterday. I say these things not to complain but to give you an idea of what sorts of things I was dealing with.
    All I wanted to do yesterday was to be to myself, and take a nap!
    After finishing the days chores it was dinner time. Ugh..I thought can’t I just make something out of a can or box? But I ignored those thoughts and made my family a healthy dinner from scratch that everyone greatly enjoyed, including myself!
    Then my husband who was suppose to be getting ready to go to church AND take some of the kiddos with him, decided not to go due to a slight heat injury from earlier in the day. I thought Really?! This was the time the I was going to have some down time!…But alas I ignored those thoughts and gave my husband a foot bath and rub, then ran around and played tag with the kids outside. Last night when I went to bed I chose to spend intimate time with my husband (sorry TMI?) instead of just letting my head hit the pillow and passing out!
    My point is this; that after I poured myself out for my family, instead of seeking for myself. The Good Lord filled me back up for more service and Glory to Him today! I had a great nights rest last night, kids slept, husband woke up in a great mood (wonder why?;-) and I’m ready for the day. Now if I did things my way yesterday and whined and complained about not getting my way, I know I would have woke up today with another long and burdensome day ahead. Like I had done for the previous days which, trust me, did not turn out well for anyone!
    But the Lord is so good and faithful and He can and does replenish the spirit, mind and body better then any self seeking remedy we can find in this world! But we must seek the Lord for that joy, we cannot ask the Lord to fill us up, but then turn around and seek our own selfish desires. Matthew 6 tells us to seek God’s kingdom FIRST and then your needs will be taken care of.

    • Nicole on August 8, 2013 at 9:11 am said:

      Amen Tina! Thank you so much for the encouragement!

    • Oh and I forgot to add that despite my bad attitude towards making dinner last night…. I had a lady from church call me up out of the blue after dinner last night and offer to bring us dinner tonight! Gods grace and mercies are with us daily and in the small things too!

  16. One of the great deceptions of our days is that we’ve confused authenticity with maturity. We’ve substituted being real for being imitators of Christ. Thanks for this post.

  17. Wanda on August 8, 2013 at 9:36 am said:

    An elderly woman told me to always be careful to only say uplifting things about my husband around other people. I have tried to apply this to my children as well. Children tend to live up to what we think of them.

  18. Amen! That article spoke truth! You did a fantastic job writing it for the LORD and for us mamas that sometimes forget what the Word says about complaining. betty jo

  19. Amen! I wholeheartedly agree that there is not enough encouraging going on in the world. Let’s do a better job of encouraging and lifting one another up! I think it makes it very difficult for non Christians to want to know Christ when we make it look so horrible and joyless. This is a challenge for sure.

  20. Denise on August 8, 2013 at 11:27 am said:

    This was PERFECT timing. I was about to all into one of those selfish pity parties for myself (I do not make mine public but I have had them and found myself quite grumpy :-( ). We do homeschool and get the typical ‘ how do you deal with “those” kids 24/7, don’t you want a break?’ NO, I did not have children for them to be raised by someone else with their sets of morals and standards. I had children to raise myself instilling my morals and values. Now DH and I do not see eye to eye on them being homeschooled but he does allow it and sees the advantages BUT thinks they ‘need’ the experiences of a school environment……..occasionally it will be thrown in my face how he feels about it. :-( He just cannot handle the children 24/7…..lol But, thank you so much for such a wonderful article and perfect timing with amazing reminders for the bad moments.

  21. Joan te Bokkel on August 8, 2013 at 11:33 am said:

    Well written!
    What I do find missing on facebook and blogs is the encourgement and support of older women, especially those who have grown children. We, as older women, can and should be a ‘catch-net’ for younger women, and young moms. Our job is not done just because we are an empty-nester. Let us remember those days of challenging youngsters, and not be afraid to share what we tried, what worked, and also, perhaps, how we failed. The Lord is gracious: He allows us, who have gone ahead, to be an enouragement to those who are on the path. Titus 2:3 – 5

  22. I am so disheartened by this post. Isn’t possible that mom’s are sharing these stories with other moms so that we might bear one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2)? Instead of judging (James 4:11) these moms for being selfish and lacking in joy what if we posted comments, etc. on such blog posts that actively seek to lift them up, huh? What a thought!! God forbid we reveal our weakness in crowds like this! We must always appear perfect I suppose, even though we know that none of us is perfect, and our only hope of perfection comes not from strictly following rules but through the sacrificial love and unending grace of Christ!

    • Nicole on August 8, 2013 at 11:45 am said:

      I’m so sorry you feel this way, but this post is scriptural and was written after much prayer. We are to admonish one another in love (Col. 3:16.) Blessings to you!

      • Not to discredit the time and prayerful consideration of this post, but scripture can and very often is taken out of text.

        Amy, I’m in agreement with you. See my comment above.

        • Nicole on August 8, 2013 at 1:04 pm said:

          If you don’t mind me asking, how were the scriptures mentioned taken out of context? If a mistake was made, I should make any needed corrections.

          My desire is to share God’s truth. I never said that mothering isn’t difficult, because it most definitely can be. Scripture is clear however that we must die to ourselves daily and we should do ALL things without selfish motives and with joy. We all need this reminder and gentle admonition at times. (Myself included.)

          We need to remember that when we are weak, God is strong. We can do all things through Him.

          • I’m not saying your references were wrong, but simply that scripture can, as can any word, be taken out of context, as well as understood differently by different people.

            I agree fully that we must seek to be joyful, even a midst hardship, that we must die to self continually, but to admonish women in a manner that is unkind, belittling and condescending, pointing out their own sin while pretending our own lack thereof, even if from scripture, does more harm to that woman, than a sympathetic ear that takes the time to listen and admonish in love.

            I did not feel that in the original post, but that we cannot be real, because in being real we are supporting the un-joyful complaining person in their sin.

            I believe that we can be real, about our own struggles, but it is our heart {as I said in my previous comment} during the struggles that matters most. I’m not a super mom, but I have a super God. I sin, I find difficulty in being constantly joyful, but I seek Him, His Grace. All I do, I only can do, as you said, because of God.

            If we pretend to never struggle, it is prideful and denying God and His existence in our lives. If we complain without seeking Him, and joy in Him, we again discredit His existence in our life. It is a fine line between them.

          • Well said, Jess! That’s what I was trying to say!

          • Oh, and I do agree that people complain far too readily and easily about anything in their life…which I think is part of a major issue.

    • I agree with Amy on this one. Showing lack of perfection is all about pointing others to how much we need GRACE. That’s not selfishness.

  23. Jennifer Thomas on August 8, 2013 at 1:09 pm said:

    YES YES YES! This trend has been bothering me for so long. It started to get so bad, I even had to take a break from facebook for a while. I am so thankful you were bold enough to speak up about it! Thank you!

  24. I, too, have seen this trend and have been so saddened. I think there is an element where as women we do need to be real and honest, but what gets lost in the message of our posts (and conversations) is the all sufficiency of God! We are weak, yes. But HE is STRONG! I read posts of moms struggling and my heart longs to reach out and love on them, but the “woe is me” is the part we as Christian women have to be careful of. I’ve especially noticed this trend in regard to pregnancy, which I am now in my last weeks and KNOW the struggles. It’s as though pregnancy gives us a right of passage to complain, and it just isn’t true. I’m daily reminded that God is my strength and my comfort. Yes my back hurts and I can’t go for as long as I usually do, but God has not once left me or forsaken me. I’m learning with each ache and pain that He provides the necessary strength for just what He needs me to accomplish each day. I’m learning to take my to do list to Him and trust Him in ways I never would have otherwise. And in that learning I have to repent often of my grumbling heart. So all of this to say, you’re so right in what you said above. It’s not easy to hear. It’s convicting, as it should be. You’re not telling us we can’t real and authentic, but you’re exhorting us to take our eyes off our circumstances and seek to glorify God even in the tough times. We need His grace to change! Thanks for sharing this. It was great reminder to me today!

  25. I think there is a balance between being real (and justifying bad attitudes, etc) and just acting like your life is so perfect that no one else will ever measure up. Most blogs tend to err in one of these directions. I have a blog that I try to keep real but put a positive spin on. I find great joy in being a mother and follower of Jesus but does that make me better than someone else who is maybe struggling? NO! I’ve had my own struggles, I’ve had my own victories and that is what I want to share.

  26. Spot on. As the Bible says we need to be “gracious in our speech.” There is a vast difference between confession and complaining. I think we can be real about our confession, no problem with confessing our sins publicly (testimony) but there is a problem when it belies a spirit of complaint and of blaming others for our trouble.
    Confession: “I am feeling so frustrated today because of my sin of discontentment. I need to get right with God, and find contentment in him.” (supports with scripture, pointing out own sin, and ways to correct it, scripturally.)
    Complaint: Here is how I get by when my kids are awful, and they constantly sin against me.

    There is a way to “be real” but being real means drawing attention to how God works despite our OWN shortcomings, not pointing out how God gives you the patience to deal with all the awful people on this planet. I think it is a very important balance. I didn’t take this post as an exhortation to always be happy, and never admit hardship, but a reminder that when we speak with others to be gracious in our speech, and not to allow our speech to heap sin on top of sin. Jesus was real, he prayed to God prior to his hardship of death on the cross. He did not spend that time in prayer complaining about those sinful men who would kill him, but focusing on God’s will. What God’s plan was. How he fit into God’s plan, and was determined to carry it out, all the while admitting how very hard that was! There is no shame in hardship, but there is something to be said for constant complaint.
    Thank you SO much for the challenging post Nicole. It was a timely reminder of this trend we are all wading through in social media and that we see daily. I’ll admit to the guilt of jokingly complaining about my children, and then later regretting it, wondering if anyone got the “joke.” This was a very challenging post to read in the best way. Thank you.

    • Interesting……….as a recovering legalist, I’d like to point out that it’s all too easy to read what scripture says and assume you can “just do it. ” It has taken me many years to realize that without God’s help, I am unable to do what scripture says. I have found that honest confession about what is troubling me opens my heart to receive His grace. If you were in a hurry to be “godly”, you might think you could skip that part. I don’t justify complaining, catering to your selfish desires, or focusing on “me”—–but I do think you have to start where you are. It is painful. It is humbling. And it doesn’t happen overnight. But it is real, and God’s grace shines more clearly, because it turns out that He is glorified in that process. It felt to me like a finger was wagging at anyone who didn’t agree with this——something to consider.

  27. I will just be brief because you will probably think I’m complaining when I say that I do not agree with your post. You talk about building mothers up, but I think this will tear many down. I love, love, love my girls but pretending that everything is great all the time is dishonest, which is also not healthy.

  28. Jo Dawson on August 8, 2013 at 7:05 pm said:

    Thanks for this. For someone who would desperately love to have children I find it really hurtful when parents complain about their children. Im not under any illusion that it is easy, I understand the hard work and sacrifice that goes into parenting (to the best of my ability being currently childless). I was sharing my story about our battle with infertility and someone told me I should be greatful to not have children because its not worth it!! I would gladly put up with 2 year old tantrums and sleepless nights and sacrificing myself for the privilege of holding a little one in my arms!! If you don’t want them give them to me, I’ll gladly love them for you!!! Share your struggles by all means, but to openly complain and moan about your kids is so hard to hear!

  29. A friend posted this on Facebook last night and I read it. At the time it rubbed me the wrong way. Because I am an “N” (Meyers-Briggs), it took me until this morning to distill why it did.

    I think I have figured it out. I am fairly sure that you didn’t mean it this way, but it came across like Job’s three “friends”.

    You labeled the following comments as “sinful”.

    “It’s okay to not always enjoy being a mother.”

    “It’s okay to want time to yourself away from your children.”

    “It’s okay to not cherish your children at every moment.”

    These comments and the feelings associated with them ARE NOT SINFUL. Too often we as Christians fall in to the trap of labeling feelings as sinful when often they are merely that: feelings. Feelings are ok. What we DO with our feelings may or may not be sinful.

    For instance, Ephesians 4:26: “Be angry and do not sin. Do not let the sun go down on the cause of your anger.” No where does Paul say that the anger is a sin, just to not let that anger cause sinful actions.

    It IS ok to not always enjoy being a mother. If I let that feeling lead me to other mothers from whom I can receive encouragement and ideas for spending time with my children that we all enjoy, then I am well ahead. If, instead, I let that feeling override my need to care for my children, that is sinful.

    It IS ok to want time away from your children. If that want encourages me to talk to my husband to set up times of refreshment away from my children (with or without other people depending on my I/E) so that I can come back to my family with more to give them, great! If I let that want lead me to walk out on my family for good, that is sinful.

    It IS ok to not cherish your children at every minute. Children are indeed a blessing, but they are also little sinful humans and we are grown up sinful humans, still in the process of sanctification. We do not have to LIKE our kids all the time. If we take those moments of dislike or non-cherishment, and take them to our Father or friends and receive strength and encouragement, or other reminders of how much God loves us AND them, that makes us a better parent than merely gritting our teeth and saying that it is sinful to not cherish them.

    Rather than using scripture to bludgeon and shame mothers, you could have acknowledged the difficulty that raising a family can often be and encourage mothers to count their blessings instead of the difficulties. That would have been a good blog post. As a friend of mine says, if we want to “encourage – to instill courage — into someone for facing a difficult task with joy and peace, the place to start is with God’s goodness. We remember God’s goodness and faithfulness and invite people into that. People are not encouraged by being told how wrong they are.”

    (I do recognize that I have spent this comment telling you that I think that you are wrong about categorizing as sinful that which is not… and that was probably not encouraging to you, is it? Sigh. But I really think that Christians need to stop telling each other what we are doing wrong and encourage what we are doing right.)

    • Nicole on August 9, 2013 at 10:23 am said:

      Hello Kimberly, Thank you for taking the time to comment. Thoughts and feelings can be sinful. 2 Corinthians 10:5 states, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” Obedience to Christ means to be loving, kind, gentle, peaceful, not self seeking, etc. Therefore thoughts of “not liking” your children and wanting time for yourself are sinful. When we have these thoughts we must repent and ask the for the Lord’s help in turning from them. In Matthew 5:28 it says, “But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust in his eye has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Just thinking about and feeling lust was sinful. The person did not have to follow through with a physical act to sin.

      If anger wasn’t sinful, than why are we instructed to not let the sun go down on our wrath?

      I stand behind my original post, it is not okay to not enjoy being a mother, want time for yourself away from your children, or to not cherish your children at all times.” These thoughts are not Christ-like, and when we have them we must take them captive and give them to the Lord. The Lord created each of our children in His image, and He calls them blessings. We cannot interperet verses to our own liking, no matter how much we would like to.

      I am trying my best to speak the truth in love. The church as a whole in our country today doesn’t do this today. We are to exhort our brothers and sisters in love when they are in sin. Hebrews 3:13 says, “You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God.” If we lovingly warn our brothers and sisters in Christ of their sin and they refuse to repent, we are to not even eat with them. 1 Corinthians 5:11-13 says,
      “But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”

      This is quite different than the message we hear in our churches today! I love my sisters in Christ. I’m not trying to be hurtful, but to gently warn. We can do all things through Christ. Greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world! If we give ourselves to the Lord, and plead with Him to help us with our thought life, He will. I’ve come a long way the past few years, and all glory is to my Heavenly Father.

      Blessings to you!

      • Debbie T on August 12, 2013 at 10:08 am said:

        What a beautiful response. It is really hard to hear that these feelings we live our lives from can be sinful. We want to validate our feelings and believe that they are okay. The feeling in and of itself is not the issue – it’s what we DO with it that is the problem. We HAVE thoughts. WE HAVE feelings. If we choose to dwell on them and develop them into complaining, resentment, depression, etc., THAT’S the sin problem. Giving those thoughts and feelings to Jesus, laying them at His feet, and asking Him to fill us with Himself is the right response – but not the natural response. It’s the battle we face every day of our lives as daughters of God.

        GREAT post – painfully true!

  30. Great post and great advice as always!!

  31. Nicole on August 9, 2013 at 3:36 pm said:

    I’m totally confused. Didn’t Jesus Himself leave the masses to go be by himself in order to pray? Since when did time alone become sinful?

    • Nicole on August 9, 2013 at 3:48 pm said:

      Praying is a wonderful thing and is not sinful in the least. Praying alone is not sinful. I will argue that time alone that you insist upon, to dote on yourself instead of others, especially because you need a “break” from your children is sinful. There is a difference. If your children for example, gave you a spa gift certificate for your birthday, that is a wonderful thing. You should accept this gift. But going to the spa with your own money, on your own time, because you feel you “need” it…instead we should be focusing on others. Luke 9:23 says, And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. I hope this explanation helps.

      • I totally and wholeheartedly disagree. Introvert mothers need time ALONE to recharge themselves – mentally, emotionally, and physically. Sometimes, time alone isn’t just a need, but it’s also the best gift a mother can give to her children. That’s not selfishness or sinfulness, that’s knowing what your needs are, how to get them met, and being a whole person for your children.

        For some moms that may mean a day alone at the spa paid with their own money. Others need time at home to blog or catch up with housework. Maybe it’s coffee with a friend. Needing that isn’t entitlement. It’s being a human woman who knows she needs to fill UP before she can pour OUT!

        • Nicole on August 9, 2013 at 4:02 pm said:

          Scripture to back this claim up please. Arguments without scripture to back it up should mean nothing to a Christian. Nowhere in scripture do I see the instruction to “fill ourselves up before we can pour out to others.” Actually, it is quite the opposite. Are we trusting in God or man?

          • Emily K on August 9, 2013 at 4:25 pm said:

            “For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:”

            Ephesians 5:29

            I would like to see you take care of your own children without eating or showering. There is no scriptural back up for taking a shower, but judging by your pretty profile picture, I bet you take a shower.

          • I think that the important thing is not taking a spa day or sitting down with a cup of tea but “be filled withe the Spirit” (Ephesians 5). There is a sense in Scripture that this is an ongoing process – not that we are filled once and that will do us for the rest of our days, but that we need to go on being filled with the Spirit in order to live in the way God wants us to. So in that sense, I agree that we need to be filled up before we can pour out! As an introvert, I do feel the need for recharging time, because to me being around others all the time is draining, but God’s grace can meet that need too, if it happens that there are days when I don’t manage to get a break.

          • Nicole on August 12, 2013 at 12:55 pm said:

            I totally agree, without Christ we are nothing. Isn’t the Holy Spirit ever present in us once we come to Christ though? I’m an introvert too…some days are hard for me. When times are tough I love to listen to the Bible and messages on audio. His Word speaks to my heart right where I am without having to remove myself from my children. God is always faithful, and I praise Him for that.

          • This is excellent. The conversation, the post, your answers in love! Excellent. Thank you for posting this.

          • Nicole on August 14, 2013 at 9:23 am said:

            Thank you so much for your kind words!

    • Actually I wrote a post a while back about this very thing, and about modeling our response to interruptions after Christ. Several times He went away to be alone and was interrupted, yet responded graciously and compassionately. http://www.servingjoyfully.com/2012/09/05/phil-21-8-my-time-is-not-my-own/

  32. Emily K on August 9, 2013 at 4:15 pm said:

    You are pretty good at taking up your cross then and following Jesus then?

    Read Luke 18.

    We need to be like the tax collector.

    I confess that I have not read the rest of your blog, so maybe I have a completely wrong idea here, but this post reminds me so much of the Pharisee from the story.

    Maybe you truly do love every single second of every single day with your children. And you know, that is so admirable. Truly. it is.

    But it isn’t everyone’s experience.

    Its not for me. I’ll just go ahead and admit that I am certainly selfish and sinful. I love quiet and peacefulness. I love when my husband will take one or two with him to do errands or something. I love my moms nights out with my girlfriends. (and btw.. I have discovered recently that having girlfriends is so completely important. My mom as an elderly woman never cultivated friendships and she is so lonely now and wishes that she had)

    I love my children. I don’t want to be selfish. I hate that I have selfish feelings. But knowing that I have them and knowing that they are wrong shows me my need for Christ. I can’t, by my own will not have those feelings. Its just not possible. But, I can say “these feelings are wrong” and with love and self control, God can still work through me.

    I am, as some others wrote here, a recovering legalist as well. Here you are saying exactly when something would be a sin (if you were to go to a spa on your own time with your own money because you need it)…

    that’s legalism. And it is because nowhere in the bible does it saying that needing “me time” and going to the spa is sinful. Its not in the ten commandments or anywhere else, and while you will use the scripture about dying to self as an example about why this is a sin, you yourself know that you do not die to self quite enough if you were really honest. Have you really given up all of yourself for your family? Probably not. Most of us haven’t. But you are putting yourself out here as an example of somebody who has. That is legalism. You are thanking God that you are not like those other bloggers who complain about their children, but have you ever complained? Have you ever had complaints in your heart but didn’t voice them? Have you really never been irritated by your childrens behavior?

    It is one thing to encourage. It is another to clean the outside of the cup and encourage other women to do the same.

    Every Sunday at church we start off with this confession…

    “O Almighty God, merciful Father,
    I a poor, miserable sinner, confess to you all my sins and iniquities,
    with which I have ever offended you and justly deserved your punishment now and forever.
    But I am heartily sorry for them and sincerely repent of them,
    and I pray you of your boundless mercy,
    and for the sake of the holy, innocent,
    bitter sufferings and death of your beloved son, Jesus Christ,
    to be gracious and merciful to me, a poor sinful being. ”

    I cannot just decide to be Holy and obedient. And neither can you.

    You say there is no excuse for sinning. I say the only excuse for our sin is Christ, because we all have a ton of it.

    • Nicole on August 9, 2013 at 4:37 pm said:

      Several of you ladies are missing my point entirely. Of course I struggle at times with selfishness. I’ve never said that I haven’t. But when we have a selfish thought we have to repent and take it captive. Pray and give it to God. Seek His forgiveness. If I was to have posted about say, not murdering, everyone would agree. But selfishness…that sin hits closer to home and we don’t want to quite give that one up. It is too hard for us. We aren’t called to be comfortable, but to take up our cross and follow Jesus! If you are saved, the Holy Spirit enters our heart and guides us. He convicts us. He uses things of this world to convict us. Maybe that’s what this post is doing to some. We can decide to be obedient. We can through Christ and with His help. And we should.

      Just two days ago I caught myself complaining to my husband about shopping at thrift stores. I wanted to shop for something new and it just wasn’t fair…how wrong of me. I apologized to him, since he is our provider. I cried out to my God for my selfishness and asked Him to change my heart. He did. Not saying that I will never have this thought again, but then I must repent and turn from it once more. Anything else is not of God. The prayer above says “repent of them.” That means turn from and commit no more!

      • having already posted above, I have to say that I do agree, especially when it comes to blogging. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with sharing our struggles, but my personal inclination would be to wait until I can post the outcome as well. So maybe I have a hard day, and I struggle to take those sinful thoughts captive – I need to repent, and maybe I need help from someone else to carry me through. Maybe the time to blog that experience is *after* I can say, yes I struggled and this is what I did, and praise God that He has helped me to get through and win the victory today/ this week.

        Does that make sense?

        • Totally makes sense! That is exactly how I feel about it. It isn’t sharing struggles, bearing one another’s burdens, or honesty about hardship that is wrong, so much as, is sharing this hardship bringing Glory to God? Is it showing transparency in how he is working in my life to further his own plan, and how he stretched me in a way I could never have gone on my own. Or is it about complaining about how bad my life is?

  33. it seems to me that there has to be a balance between taking care of yourself, spending time with your husband, and cherishing your children. Some women put their kids ahead of their husband or God and that doesn’t work well.

    But I do struggle with having a negative and selfish attitude toward my family. So while we may differ on how much rest we individually need, the admonition to “do everything without complaining” and die to self was right on.

    • Danielle B on August 12, 2013 at 9:25 am said:

      It’s funny (funny ironic), my pastor just talked about a complaining spirit YESTERSAY. He said that yes, complaining is a sin, because if we aren’t in faith we are in sin. Complaining spirits attrack other complaining spirits. If one person has a complaint, ever notice some people will jump in with a complaint of their own. A complaining spirit is a heart issue, consecrate yourself before the Lord. Our
      Pastor said to take a fast from complaining! Imagine if we all did that, how GRATEFUL we all will be. Complaining is the root of ungratefulness. Think about it.

  34. I completely agree! I have a similar post in my “to-do’s” right now called. Parenting is hard (harder on some days than others), but I think there is a fine line between being “real” and just plain wallowing in that negativity! And that’s what I’ve seen a lot lately as well. I think it’s important for us to be compassionate, and understand that these feelings might happen sometimes and it doesn’t mean you’re a bad mom if you get frustrated sometimes. We do need to fight against perfectionism too. HOWEVER, we need to do that without wallowing in it. It seems lately, there is a trend of almost bragging about it!

  35. I have to wonder if “several ladies are missing the point entirely” because the point is poorly made and most certainly not being made in love. When someone is not understanding what you are saying the failure is not only on the part of the reader, but also on the part of the writer. I thought the post was legalistic, holier-than-thou and completely lacking in Christian grace and love for mother’s who are struggling to feel the joy and peace they know they ought to (as if being guilted and shamed will improve their situation rather than lifting them up). You responses to comments calling this out have only made me MORE certain that this is the case rather than less so.

    • Nicole on August 12, 2013 at 1:01 pm said:

      “Blessed are they who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad; for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” [Matthew 5:10-12]
      Luke reports this part of Christ’s sermon on the mount thus:–

      “Blessed are ye when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.” [Luke 6:22-23]

      I will continue to speak truth for my Lord. And I a truly blessed although your words stung a little.

    • My question is, why are these mothers struggling to feel the joy and peace? Have they taken on too much, stuff, responsibilities outside the home, burdens of life, internet responsibilities etc. that they cannot feel the joy and peace from the Lord due to the sheer busy of their lives?

      Children are blessings. Period. It is up to us to deal with their childish behaviors with grace and love without taking it personally! It is our job as parents to raise them up in the admonition of the Lord. If a mother is too busy doing, going, writing, seeing, hosting, creating, blogging etc. then she will not have time for this and will surely not enjoy her children! They will not be a blessing to her! They will be in the way of her personal space, time, freedom, things.

      • Emily K on August 14, 2013 at 4:08 pm said:

        I agree with this. This may be my problem.

        But see, I am not blogging, hosting, or other such fun things.

        I am taking care of my elder parents-my father who has dementia and stage 4 Parkinsons.

        It IS hard to enjoy my children right now. So much happens all at once I feel like I am in the middle of a hurricane. The children are much more difficult to balance with this new set of responsibilities.

  36. Hi there, great discussion that this post spawned. There are a few points where you were correct. I think that complaining is a sin issue. My husband pointed it out when my kids were quite young… when he overheard a group of Christian women (I was talking to) complaining about how their kid was the most annoying or more obnoxious than the average. There is something to be said for not allowing a negative and critical spirit to be your guiding force. The attitude that we are “entitled” to time away from our families can be juvenile and is at best selfish and at worst destructive to the unity of our families.
    However, I was concerned with the way you were blithely using scripture to slap down some of the more directly confrontational comments. All scripture is useful for teaching, REBUKING… but I am not sure that it’s helpful to rebuke in this setting, using the scriptures as a weapon.
    Speaking the truth is fabulous. But let it be “in love”, I saw that you were trying to be loving (most of the time), but your rebukes became less and less loving and felt more and more defensive and judgmental. I heard your heart, you felt convicted for your complaining and negative attitude, but you were not validating or hearing other people’s FEELINGS.
    It is a very thin line between emotion (which we can’t control), to attitude which controls our thoughts, words and actions. If I said that today I woke up exhausted and felt frustrated by my son’s 10 year old attitude, am I sinning? I don’t think I am. If I shared it with my small group Bible study as a prayer request or asked a friend how she dealt with her son’s attitude, am I sinning? Not that I am convicted.
    I think that is what many of the comments were saying. FEELINGS aren’t sin. They aren’t. Should we grab those feelings and “make them captive” before they control us? ABSOLUTELY. As Lysa Terkeurst said in “Unglued”, emotions are indicators, NOT dictators… but does that mean it’s selfish to grab coffee with a friend or ask for advice about parenting? Gosh, I hope not, and even with all your “Sword” swinging, I didn’t feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit that being honest with friends about your failures as a mom, and/or taking time away from my family to get my toes painted or having dinner with girlfriends is sin. But that’s just me. Maybe it’s a Romans 14 thing.

    • Nicole on August 14, 2013 at 9:31 am said:

      For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

      Hebrews 4:12

      Yes, I use scripture in my posts and while commenting. Scripture is the living word of God, and there is nothing better or sweeter to hear. This blog is not mine, but God’s. It’s actually a bit amusing that you are correcting me for quoting scripture.

      Blessings to you!

      • It’s actually “a bit amusing” you should say this, considering that my comment with boatloads of scripture backing up the Biblical need for rest is still awaiting moderation. :)

        We all have the responsibility to look at the WHOLE counsel of God. It’s still possible to share scripture while “handling the word of God deceitfully.” We don’t just have a blank check to sling scripture at people in hurtful ways because that’s not what God intended for his words:

        2 Corinthians 4:2
        But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.

        • Nicole on August 14, 2013 at 9:56 am said:

          Hi Aprille!

          I most definitely would have posted your comment if I found it to be helpful to my readers. You were insinuating that verses about rest could be applied to our children. That “resting” = time away from our kids. I wholeheartedly disagree. Our children are our calling, and not “work” that we need a respite from. I hope that you understand my heart, and why I didn’t post your comment. My goal is to encourage mothers to embrace their calling, and not to consider it work that they need a break from. :-)

          • Once again, I disagree. Just because something is a calling doesn’t mean that we never need rest from it. (see Jesus, for example, who often took a break from his calling to rest – even during troublesome times like a storm on the water.)

            By your logic, men should never ask for a day off either. Their work is just as much of a calling as is a woman’s calling to “bare children and guide the house.”

            I’d even say that CREATION was God’s calling, but he still rested from it.

            And what about the story of Mary and Martha? Keeping house was the “calling” by your line of thinking, but Jesus preferred that his daughters REST rather than “being cumbered about with much serving.”

          • Nicole on August 14, 2013 at 10:24 am said:

            Aprille, I’m not hear to argue. Although I may want a respite from washing dishes or mopping floors from time to time, I do not need a physical break from my children. Ever. They are blessings. They are gifts. If I’m down with a migraine I ask anyone who wants to to jump into bed with me and we’ll snuggle while watching cartoons. I usually do not separate from my babies at all until they are at least one. And it’s a joy! I know that’s counter cultural. But this is what my blog is about, and what God laid it on my heart to share.

            I took a look at your blog last week. I didn’t agree with what your posts had to say, and even teared up at one point. But I didn’t comment. That is your place to share your heart. Although I feel like your opinions are wrong, I realize that is your blog. Not mine.

          • That’s fair. I will “agree to disagree” and move our separate ways.

      • I was not correcting you for using scripture, I was correcting you for lacking gentleness. It is great that you can quote scripture… Good for you! I can too.1 Peter 3:15 “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,” Ephesians 6:10-13 tells us that the Sword of truth is not for swinging at our friends, but rather for the spiritual battle. “Because our battle is not against flesh and blood”.

        I don’t disagree completely with your post, it was a little strongly stated, and lacked humility, but you seemed a little condescending in your responses in the comments, that is what I was commenting on.

        • Nicole on August 14, 2013 at 10:44 am said:

          I’m so sorry that you feel that way. I don’t believe in sugar coating scripture. Everyone has an opinion on the right way to handle things… I feel like my approach was correct ( as a whole) and I asked my husband to look over everything and he agrees.

          If you look at the church, there are so many denominations and preaching styles. I prefer teaching that “tells it like it is” in love. I wouldn’t have written this if I didn’t dearly love my sisters in Christ. :-)

  37. Nicole on August 14, 2013 at 12:40 pm said:

    “Although I may want a respite from washing dishes or mopping floors from time to time, I do not need a physical break from my children. Ever. They are blessings. They are gifts. If I’m down with a migraine I ask anyone who wants to to jump into bed with me and we’ll snuggle while watching cartoons. I usually do not separate from my babies at all until they are at least one. And it’s a joy! I know that’s counter cultural. But this is what my blog is about, and what God laid it on my heart to share.”

    Wow! You are an amazing, extra-ordinary woman! I don’t know a single mom who could say “I do not need a physical break from my children.” I’ll bet 99% of women couldn’t say this. Is your goal to alienate women/mothers? Or encourage? Because what I feel is much more of a “holier than thou” sentiment coming through.

    With all due respect, I think this whole thing is ridiculous. Of course you need a physical break from your kids. Who are you kidding? You shower and put on make-up right? Sleep without them? Blog? Read other people’s blogs? Go on dates with your husband? Have sex with your husband? I am sure you have time physically apart from your children, you just aren’t quite realizing it.

    • Nicole on August 14, 2013 at 1:02 pm said:

      I am NOT an extraordinary woman, but I serve an extraordinary God! I have asked Him to help me to truly love children the way He does. I know that my love does not even come close or compare to His, but I honestly can say that I do not feel the need to physically separate from my children.

      This isn’t to say that I’m never away from my children, just that I don’t NEED to be. Usually when I shower and put on make up a child is at my feet. I’ve had a co-sleeper snuggled under my arm for four years now. I blog and read blogs in our school room with my children. We’ve had a date night “buddy” most date nights for seven years. Physical intimacy between my husband and I really isn’t any of your business.

      The point is, I used to be a young 20-something who thought she needed, no DESERVED, time away from her children. Shopping trips, girls nights, you name it. The Lord has revealed to me otherwise, and He can do the same for you. That being said, time with your husband is even more important than time with your children.

      Please try to see my heart in this…I’m no better than anyone else, God has worked on me greatly over the past years. Blessings to you!

      • Nicole on August 14, 2013 at 1:28 pm said:

        Okay. It sounds like you had a great struggle and God met you and changed you. And, now you are on a mission to tell others that they can experience this too. Am I right? But, why do you believe that your situation is what all other Christian moms ought to be doing? I don’t understand that. God helped you overcome a desire to spend time away from your kids. Now, you think it’s important that all other women overcome their desires to be away from their kids. Why? Because children are a blessing? What mom doesn’t think that? Other than a small minority of mothers, most mothers work hard and are selfless, and deeply love their children. It goes with the territory. I think you are basically trying to challenge mothers to accept, joyfully, their calling. I can accept that. What I take issue with is that somehow this means denying self completely–failing to “take time away” be it mentally or physically. I don’t know how this is scriptural. Isn’t there a balance? As other readers have already said (in so many words), why does this have to be such an all-or-nothing proposition? As in, if I really accept that children are a blessing, I must desire to be with them 100% of the time?

        • Nicole on August 14, 2013 at 1:48 pm said:

          We are to “die to self”…I don’t think there is a balance. We are to give God our EVERYTHING, and then let Him decide what we do, and do not need. He is sufficient. He will sustain us.

          The point isn’t to desire to be with our children 100% of the time, but that we shouldn’t desire to be away from them 100% of the time. There is a difference. My time isn’t my own. It belongs to God. This post applies this principle in regards to mothering, because that is what this blog is about. But we should apply this concept to every facet of our lives if we belong to Jesus.

          • Hi Nicole,
            I agree that as Christians we *have* the Holy Spirit, but there is in Scripture also the idea of “go on being filled”, that makes it a daily necessity. Jesus breathed on His disciples and they received the Spirit in John 20, but they still had to wait in Jerusalem after Jesus’ ascension until they were baptised with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5) – and that wasn’t the only time the Spirit was poured out on the same group of people! I guess you could think of it this way: that we have the Spirit, so His power is always available to us, but that we don’t always make the maximum use of it possible. Or that when we’re in a tough situation, our reaction isn’t always to open ourselves to God *more* – at least, mine isn’t! but thank God that He loves us anyway, and He is always ready, willing and able to step in and help us :)

          • Cindee on August 14, 2013 at 11:14 pm said:

            Nicole, I agree with you 100% on everything you’ve said. This whole “me time” thing the world dangles in front of us is from the pit of hell. If we claim Christ as LORD, we are no longer our own. Our time, our bodies, our anything…. it’s not ours, it’s HIS.

            “… but that we shouldn’t desire to be away from them 100% of the time.” I’m going to hazard a guess that by this rather ambiguous statement you actually mean that 100% of the time we should not be desiring to be away from our children. I agree with that thought.

            There are times that it may be inappropriate for our children to be physically with us for one reason or another, but that is a far cry from desiring that separation. If something in us is desiring distance from our child(ren) then there is a heart issue that needs to be rectified. Usually it comes down to selfishness and an entitlement mind-set on my part if I’m feeling like that.

            The truth is a stumbling block for many. Jesus Himself was “A stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall. They stumble because they disobey the message.” ( I Peter 2:8) Therefore it’s no surprise that His Word causes the same offense. I’m grateful for your boldness in speaking it without compunction. Blessings on you.

          • Carmelita on August 19, 2013 at 11:25 pm said:

            I try hard to “die to self” but it is VERY hard to do at times. My husband is a career soldier, and can be gone a year or more at a time. I have a preschooler and two adult children. This past year my husband was deployed. No one knows the physical shape I am in, because I don’t tell anyone. Sure, there is an occasion when I have a weak moment and will post that I am tired or hurting, but it is rare. I have a few chronic health conditions and one where physical therapy would help. I can’t go to physical therapy though because I am not allowed to have anyone back in the treatment room with me and my husband cannot be off to watch the little one. I do what I can at home for therapy, but it is not the same. There are days that I WISH I had a child that would be happy playing with other children without me around so I could go to the doctor, PT, etc. I haven’t been to the medical doctor in over a year, because once again, they would want to do lab work and children are not allowed in the lab. I am to take daily medicine for my condition, but I don’t because I don’t have anyone to watch the little one. We have no family here, and don’t know anyone at church. I try hard to never complain, and when my husband gets upset with me for not taking better care of myself I tell him that God only created me to serve others, not myself. There are people who like to say you have to take care of yourself first to be able to take care of others, but like you said, that is nothing but selfishness trying to justify your sin. So on days that I can hardly walk, or am hurting so bad I am taking 800mg Motrin every few hours, I try and rest in knowing He will provide for my needs, not my wants. :) Thank you for the reminder that I do not “need” to be away from my child, though there are times I think I do. :)

          • Nicole on August 20, 2013 at 10:19 am said:

            Carmelita, I will be praying for you. There is nothing wrong with seeing to your medical need. If your husband is asking you to see to your health problem, then you most definitely should. While it is our job to encourage others, others should be encouraging us at the same time which is what your husband seems to be doing. God bless you.

  38. Christine on August 22, 2013 at 7:26 pm said:

    “Judge not, that ye be not judged.”
    You quote scripture and say you are promoting good Christian values but all I see is self righteous judgment. I see vanity in your smug attitude that you are better than those who complain as you live a good Christian life. I would rather teach my children to be “real” and not teach them to use scripture to shame hardworking women.

    • Nicole on August 22, 2013 at 9:35 pm said:

      “Judge not, that ye be not judged” is one of the most misquoted Bible verses. Here are some other verses about judgment:

      The mouth of the righteous speaketh wisdom, and his tongue talketh of judgment. Psalm 37:30

      …be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 1 Corinthians 1:10

      Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren? 1 Corinthians 6:1-5

      I like this verse, from Isaiah 59:8, “The way of peace they know not; and there is no judgment in their goings: they have made them crooked paths: whosoever goeth therein shall not know peace.” They made crooked paths because there is no judgment in their goings.

      Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly. John 7:24

      I am not judging anyone specifically here, but I am judging sinful behavior. That is what Christians are supposed to do. I make mistakes all of the time, that I need to repent of. All.the.time. There is no shame in Christ, praise the Lord! If scripture is convicting, we need to look at our lives a little bit closer. I’m convicted by scripture quite often, and then I know I need to make a change. :-)

      Blessings to you!

      • Christine on August 22, 2013 at 11:21 pm said:

        That was not a misquote. I understand it completely. “For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.” I was “measuring to you” by pointing out your vanity. Choose to see it your way if you like. Attitudes like yours are what cause shame, doubt and self loathing among mothers because they give on such as yourself more credit then you are due and think that they are flawed in some way. I take solace in the fact that you have no idea how Christ would feel about how I parent.

        • Nicole on August 23, 2013 at 8:49 am said:

          I’m sorry, but I don’t quite understand how I am being vain. I’m a broken mess that would be nothing without Jesus! If we don’t judge sinfulness, how could we ever know what is right and wrong?

          Jesus makes it very clear that we are to forgive people when they sin against us. In the Lord’s Prayer we pray that God would forgive us as we forgive others. Well in order to forgive someone, you have to first, “judge” that they have done something wrong. The very act of forgiveness that Jesus teaches so clearly, requires that we identify some behavior as wrong. To fail to judge it as wrong or sinful in the first place, makes it impossible to forgive.

          The Bible is filled with admonitions that we avoid evil, flee from temptation, cling to what is good and lovely. In order to do that, we have to make judgment calls. We have to decide that one thing is good and another is not. We make these decisions all that time as a matter of course in life. We do it if we are a follower of Jesus or not.

        • Emily K on August 24, 2013 at 12:16 pm said:

          “God’s Word clearly states that we should not complain, we should and give thanks for all things. Meaning, we should thank Him for sleepless nights, runny noses, bad attitudes, and messy bathrooms. ”

          Do you thank God when friend accidentally kills himself with a gun (happened to me over this winter) and leaves a young widow? In ALL things rejoice. What about if your child got cancer. Do you literally THANK GOD for that. In ALL things rejoice. How about when your husband cheats on you and leaves you. Again, “Thank God in ALL things?”

          I guess I just don’t exactly take this as entirely literal. And yet I take it seriously. When my friend died this winter, I could see that God that somewhere in the big picture, there was a plan, and yet as a human, I didn’t thank God. I cried. I asked why. I got angry (not at God so much as my friend for not practicing gun safety). When I am exhausted from a hard day of parenting, the laundry is backed up, the kids were fighting, my parents voiced their annoyance over my children and things are just so hard. I don’t thank God at that moment. I pray to God for help in that moment. I feel powerless and want to cry.. And I do not like my situation at that exact time. So I am sinning if I say I am tired? Am I sinning if I admit out loud to someone that I am struggling? I don’t think you can prove that scripturally and I do believe you are judging too harshly unless you can say that you actually literally thank God for all of your trials. I personally cannot do that. I am not that strong. But at the end of the day, when it comes down to it, I am thankful that God uses difficult circumstances to grow and to sanctify me and dare I say discipline me. And scripture says that the discipline isn’t pleasant, but that good fruit comes out of it.

          Perhaps I just don’t know what blog posts you are referring to. Perhaps some of these blogs really are women really complaining about their children, and perhaps they make it sound like they don’t like their children very much. And in that case, I can agree with you. I spent a little time reading about the child free lifestyle the other day, and one of the things that most of the bloggers talked about was how much parents complain about their children and how much of a burden they are, and how anyone who can read can see that children make you miserable 95% of the time, and how the 5% rewards of parenting are just not worth it. We as Christians should definitely NOT be making parenting look like misery when they are blessings.

          However, I guess I just haven’t stumbled upon many christian women making it seem all that miserable. Mostly, I have seen women sharing that they have struggles and bad days, and to me, that just seems honest and it seems like a part of bearing one anothers burdens. I would feel suffocated and self loathing if I didn’t know that seemingly perfect moms had bad days too.

          Thats just me though.

          • Nicole on August 24, 2013 at 12:37 pm said:

            I do take the Bible literally. We should praise God in all things…which means during all things. Even during the hard times you mentioned God deserved praise, simply because He is God! Even in situations that seem terrible to our small minds, we need to remember that God always works all things for good for the called who are following His will.

            Job is a good example of this. The Lord gives, The Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of The Lord! Job 1:21

            I understand that not all churches teach this, which is one of the reasons there are so many denominations. This way of thinking and interpretation is what you are going to find on this blog.

  39. Great article. I’m currently teaching Sunday school class and topic is Raising Godly Children, and I’m definitely going to tap into your lesson if ok. Thanks.

  40. Thank you for this post. It is so important to edify your husband and children at all times, of course we know that parenting is hard and there are issues that we all face, but God was not pleased with the Israelites murmering, and I am pretty sure it would still displease Him now that we are not thankful in joy for our gifts. I think it is okay to talk about real resolutions to issues that we face in a faithful and graceful manner always bringing it back to Gods redeeming nature, but flat out idle chatter and whining under the banner or being real could lead to discontentment and bitterness and we become not set apart and not a light in the darkness. Thank you for reminding me to always examine what kind of real I want to be. Tara.

  41. Mike Ritter on August 29, 2013 at 1:07 am said:

    Nicole,

    I ended up here from a friend’s Facebook link.

    And, yes, I’m a guy.

    Reading your post and responses to the comments I’m reminded of so many friends who have been turned off by what they perceive as judgmental Christians who have a scripture for everything, but don’t seem to really care what they’re going through.

    While I get where your responses come from and truly appreciate how spot-on your scripture references are, by telling women they just shouldn’t feel this way and they shouldn’t share their stories is an enormous impediment to getting them to the point those scriptures resound in their spirit.

    My wife started a private group for people in our situation because there are so many caustic groups out there. Our stories on our blog are authentic and raw. But we direct this toward healing solutions.

    By telling readers they have to be joyful and can’t hate things that happen when parenting is a disservice. The proper response is, as another reader mentioned, for seasoned saints to mentor parents through that mine field. It’s about being in an open and healthy community where we respect each other’s strengths and struggles.

    • Nicole on August 29, 2013 at 7:39 am said:

      Hi Rob,

      I’ve never told women that they shouldn’t share their stories. Of course they should share their stories, just without a complaining and grumbling spirit. I use God’s word so much because ultimately, I’ve dedicated this blog to the Lord. It is His. I don’t want to mess things up with my measly words when I can direct people to God’s own word! So often we look to ourselves, self help books, etc. when we should be in God’s word. That is where true healing lies. I’m sorry if you feel that “by telling readers they have to be joyful and can’t hate things that happen when parenting is a disservice.” You might need to take that up with God, because that is directly contradictory to His word. I’m only trying to spread His message, even if it is difficult to hear. Blessings to you!

    • The key thing here is heart attitude, isn’t it? I agree with both of you, and I’ve been on the receiving end of both. I have sat there and listened while someone essentially used Scripture to judge me and tell me and my family that we shouldn’t be feeling how we were. The sad thing was that although it was well-meaning, it showed a complete disregard for us as whole people, people who have both joys and struggles, and people who really needed encouragement right then. We didn’t need a theological lecture, we needed friendship, and that wasn’t on offer, because it had been sacrificed to an attitude which saw people as project which could just be corrected and steered by slapping Scripture on top of all the hurt and pain.
      However, I also have friends who I know love me, and part of that love is to faithfully speak God’s word into my circumstances. Usually they will give me time to share my heart, and they will pray with me and sometimes share a verse with me. For me, one of the key differences is the authenticity of this second group of people. I know they have been through similar struggles themselves, and they are sharing with me something that helped them. And even if they have not experienced the exact same thing as me, I know that they are trying to live in a way that pleases God, and so I trust them. That’s something that can be hard to convey on a blog, when readers don’t know the author and don’t know how he or she actually lives her life. Tone of voice makes a big difference too; another thing that is hard to get across in writing. So I’m glad we have this comments section to clarifiy and discuss what has been written!

  42. Nicole, I found your post on the internet and I wanted to comment on how refreshing I found your post to be and that your listening to the Holy Spirit, in my opinion, allows the love of God to be shed in your home toward your family. I now have grandchildren but when my children were small, it was important to me that they did not sense that I did not want them as I had sensed with my mother. Your post and responses were heart warming, to me. I would suspect that your children know that you love them…. May the love of God continue to be shed abroad in our hearts.

  43. Shelly Anderson on October 22, 2013 at 12:39 pm said:

    I do think that in social media, where friendship is not actually friendship, it is all too common to find THREADS of complaints or harsh words, not just a single post. The thing that is not sitting well with me about your post is that it doesn’t acknowledge how appropriate it is to share struggle with one another for the purpose of being uplifted. James 5:16 Also, it is absolutely scriptural to desire time alone, Jesus when he was troubled would separate Himself from his disciples to be alone with God. I trust God provides that longing, and that when I feel like I need time away it is likely true. Shame is not of God, so if some are experiencing that from reading this post perhaps consider the story of Jesus and the woman at the well, righteous correction and shaming are two very different things, Jesus managed to correct and encourage the woman into a course that would glorify God and his purpose for her life.

    My point is this topic is best handled in a one on one, loving, and safe environment with a woman you see as in need of encouragement, not on a blog. When addressed in this way the message is easily missed.

  44. Justina on February 27, 2014 at 2:49 pm said:

    Wow! Thank you for that hard pill to swallow. I really needed to wrap my head around this. Bless you.

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