12.06.2013

My Response to Some Harsh Comments on that "Desperate Housewives" Post

I read a blog post (click here) early this snowy morning, and while I may not have agreed with every single word or even written the post the way the author did, I did wholeheartedly agree with the message she wrote to young moms: it is okay, even Biblical, to ask for help in caring for your home and family. 

I scrolled down a little further to read a few comments. 

Oh. my. goodness.

As I read the cutting words a handful of women felt compelled to say, I found myself shocked and heartbroken.  So, this post is what I wanted to say in response to the harsh comments:

To all of you who commented with words essentially saying to young moms that they should just “suck it up and work harder” rather than seek out help, I simply must expose the lie and lift the burden you have just laid down.  What you are putting on these young women is a weight they cannot bear…and it is not the Gospel.  The Gospel is not a story of sucking it up and working harder.  The Gospel is the Truth of saying I cannot make it, I cannot do it on my own, and ultimately depending on a Rescuer to save, redeem, heal, and restore.  In Christ, we are free to expose weakness (“…my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Cor. 12:9).  As a part of His Body, we have been given the opportunity and privilege and the mandate to help one another (“…carry each other’s burdens” Gal. 2:6). 

Yes, sometimes God’s power being made perfect in weakness looks like re-prioritizing and cutting out non-essentials (as one commenter gave as the “better” alternative to asking for help).  Yes, sometimes God’s power being made perfect in weakness looks like getting more organized so that you can care for you family well (also mentioned as a solution to handling one’s own responsibilities instead of needing help).  Yes, sometimes God’s power being made perfect in weakness does look like Him stripping of you of your own self-centeredness through the refining fire of motherhood (yet another reason given to get over the difficulties of young motherhood and not pursue help from others). 

However, His power being made perfect in weakness also looks like the body of Christ supporting each other.  His very real power and presence often comes in the form of human hands that are surrendered to Him for His purposes.  His power being made perfect in weakness can and does look like those people who help and support young (overwhelmed and exhausted) moms.  That type of help and support (carrying each other’s burdens) is a tangible expression of God’s love and presence. 

It so saddened my heart to read comments from “older” women saying that these young moms are acting “entitled” by asking for (or hiring) help and that these young women should just stop being so self-centered and should just work harder and should just figure out a better plan for their meals, kids, discipline, etc. 

Most of these “older” women comments seemed to come from women who were “churched,” sharing their opinions as “Christian” women.  I couldn’t help but want to respond to their harsh and burdensome comments with the following verse:

They [the religious leaders] tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. (Matthew 23:12)

Sure there is lots to learn about being a wife and mom, but the truest learning starts in the heart with admitting that I do need help and allowing Jesus to come in and transform…not just me working harder externally and organizationally at being a “better” mom so that I won’t need any help from anyone else.  Learning to be a godly wife and a mom starts with saying that I can’t do it on my own and depending on an all-sufficient Rescuer to show me the way.  It starts with asking for help.  Help from Him.  And help from others.  His design was that His Church, those who follow Him would carry each other’s burdens.  Not only that, but He also instructed older women to train the younger women how to love their husband and children…and lots of other things, too…like being busy at home and self-controlled and pure.  But to first and foremost train them how to love their husbands and children.  Not to train younger women to just suck it up and work harder.  That does not breed love. 

Even as hardworking and organized as I am, my first two years as a mom were some of the hardest years of my life.  I wasn’t without all the necessary life skills to be a wife and mom (as some of the comments suggested that young women just needed to learn such skills): I had cared for children since I was 13, I knew how to cook, sew, clean, do laundry, and multitask.  I could perform.  But being a young mom was still more than I could handle alone. I just kept sinking under the lie that I was supposed to carry it all on my own…the kids, the house, the meals, the groceries, the laundry, the cleaning, etc.  And I believed for a while that if I just worked harder and got just the right system down, I’d be better at this mom thing.  That I’d finally “feel” exactly what I was “supposed” to feel as a mom.

Living under that lie-driven performance reality was more than I could bear. 

I remember the first day that I actually let someone other than God into my vast need for help.  I had already been asking God for help for sure. But it was through lots of tears that I told my husband, Val, what a hard time I was having and how much I couldn’t carry it all on my own. 

When a young mom finally asks for help, the last thing she needs to hear is that she should just “suck it up and work harder,” which is why my heart breaks over the comments that some women have left.  My heart breaks over their comments, but also over what burdens they must be placing on the young women in their lives. 

Yes, young moms, you have a powerful calling and role as the wife and mom of your home.  Yes, there is a lot to learn.  Yes, it is important to discern when you are accepting too much help and could ultimately be abdicating your roles on some level.  (All things that commenters suggested to young moms.)

But you are also not meant to go it alone. 

In Jesus, we are called to bear each other’s burdens.  Under the Gospel, we are called to see and admit our failings, our weaknesses, our need for help and take them to Jesus so that He can heal and restore and make all things new.  That process may actually include other people. 

Please do not ever believe the lie that you, on your own, just need to get your act together and perform better.  This is not God’s design for how you live any part of your life.  To preach that is to preach something other than the Gospel. 

So, fellow “young moms” do ask for help.  Do not go it alone.  Start with asking Jesus for help deep in your soul.  And listen to His answers and look for His provision for what and where that help will be. 


2 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for writing this. I am the author of the Desperate Housewives post and I too have been so disheartened at some of the comments you mentioned. The "try harder" mentality is what I lived under for so long and it drove me into the pit of despair. I have tried so many things to be more organized, read so many books about discipline and marriage, just trying to learn from SOMEONE, ANYONE who was willing to share any information that would help me run my household smoother.

    The "try harder" message could not be more damaging to a woman who is trying so hard already. What saved me was remembering that it is not the law of God that saves, but the GRACE of God. That God humbled himself, came down to help me in my pitiful state of helplessness. I have never realized this more than since I became a mother. I praise God everyday for this grace that was bestowed upon me and for his infinite love. I pray that I will always remember it that I might show this same kind of love to others in my life, particularly young mothers as I grow older. Thanks you again. Rebekah T.

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    1. Rebekah! Thank your for reading and responding! Yes, I just couldn't shake some of those comments, especially being a young mom myself who has lived under the "try harder" mentality. I have learned so much about the Gospel and the reality of grace since becoming a mom. I am so grateful that God is a God of grace…and that He actually desires to come down and help me when I am struggling. I am so grateful that He has helped me deep in my soul…and I am also grateful that He has helped me in tangible ways through actual people: my husband, my friends, babysitters, grandmas, takeout, pizza delivery, and even the grocery pick-up service at my supermarket. His help both spiritual and tangible are evidence of His grace. And I am so grateful! Thanks for writing your post. I know it has resonated with so many, many of us young moms out there!

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