surprised by motherhood {part 1}


The hardest thing for know-it-alls is being in unfamiliar places. Especially when others expect them to come up with answers fast.

Trust me. I’d know.

No matter how many books and articles I read or friends I tried to paduan, I was a driftwood in a vast ocean at times when I became a mother. No matter how deeply I drilled into my own mind to go into this thing without any expectations, there were moments of desperation as I held onto the ledge of my comfort zone with a shaking, one-fingered grip.

Even two and a half years in, I still learn something new about motherhood every day. I’ve learned how selfish I am. That I don’t like people (even tiny ones) telling me what to do very much. I’ve learned to appreciate my own mother more — and how!

And I learned that I’ve been going about the whole prayer thing entirely the wrong way.

I was blessed to become a mother in the social media age. A team of friends were navigating the whole motherhood thing at the very same time as I was — camaraderie and encouragement at my fingertips without ever leaving the plush depths of our powder blue rocking chair. But there as a period of time I distanced myself from them when their babies all slept and I was alone in the middle-of-the-night wasteland. Left for dead, according to my delirious, chocolate-deprived theatrics.

My baby had eczema. She ate at least every two hours until her eighth month of life. It was about that time that my spirit became as worn as the stretch of wood floor and staircase between our room and hers. When this first-time mom with no frame of reference believed the smoky whispers that this would last forever.

To survive, I had to whisper back.

Hillsong released their God is Able album that year. When my baby was full and dry and still didn’t want to sleep, I’d hum a soft version of the songs as my anthem. Swaying in the arcing rhythm my body was created for. Arms full of the tiny, sacred being God placed in my charge.

The lyrics were a constant soundtrack to drown out the desperation of those dark early morning hours when I knew I had to be awake and coherent very shortly to squeeze a stressful full-time job into the cracks of caring for a child. I repeated mantras of optimism and tried to find some positive twist to cover every doubt. But most of the time, I was pleading and bargaining and wagering to God. That I’d do anything to restore some shred of predictability in my life.

And one day, I heard a whisper that breathed warmth into my bones:

What if you stopped praying, “Please make my baby sleep,” and started praying, “Please help me function no matter how much sleep I get”?

After that, I saw God in a completely different way. I got a small, earthside, limited glimpse of His omnipotence. That little things like time and sleep and productivity and circumstances don’t matter when you’re doing His work. He operates on a completely different, miraculous currency that makes a way and helps you cross lines off the checklist and gives you energy when it doesn’t make sense.

Whether you’ve danced this dance or not, this sweeping truth applies across the board. Never forget it for one minute when you’re committed to doing the work of God, no matter how tiresome or mundane or glamorous.

He will be there when you’re clinging to your last thread of patience. His whisper of hope will echo in all of your dark, empty places. He’ll breathe joy into your lifeless, tired bones.

His arms are the ones you’ll feel in the gritty, agonizing moments. Pointing to something refreshing and new when you’ve been down the same road a million times. The same arms that shake you into consciousness when the sun’s out and the rubble has settled but you’re too scared to open your eyes to His promises. Remember this, friends:

When you are doing His work, He. is. always. faithful. Shattering-expectations faithful. 

This is part one of my Surprised by Motherhood series celebrating the release of Lisa-Jo Baker’s new book. Check out part two for my review + a giveaway that ends midnight CST Friday, April 4!

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  • Laurie this is exactly what I needed to hear today. Our little is 10 months and by all counts she’s an “easy” baby but I’ve been feeling like I’m failing at this motherhood thing for the last week. I was also convicted over the weekend I’m praying wrong, so this was a good reminder. 🙂

    • Yes, I felt the same way. But regardless of how “easy” you have it compared to others, it’s still hard and you’re still doing a very brave thing!

  • Melissa Foster says:

    Very good Laurie…encouraging 🙂

    • You should buy the book Surprised by Motherhood! <3 So amazing!

  • So beautiful. Your voice and your wisdom. Though it’s not a “little” keeping me up at night, I really take to heart the (very timely) reminder that God is faithful and works completely outside the realm of what we believe is possible or logical when we are faithful in the work and charge we’ve been given. Thanks for this!

    • THANK YOU!! I was hoping this would be a universal truth for everyone! 🙂

  • Well written! Will pass it on to my daughter and friends who have just become moms! So glad for godly moms like you!!

  • Not a mother, but I can definitely relate to the whole experience of God giving strength when it just doesn’t make sense- when there’s no way I should possibly be able to function. (Just experienced it today, in fact.)

  • I love your take on praying “backwards.” My little guy (almost two) had colic, too. He has taught me so, so much…about myself…about God…about what He can pull us through.