By Alex Green
The second after my daughter was born, immediate natural instincts began to rise up within me, instincts I never knew existed. To name a few, there was the instinct of instant overwhelming, unconditional love in my heart for her. I couldn’t believe there was so much love for someone I had just met. There was also the instinct of wanting to shelter her from any harm or danger, and to create boundary lines driven by fear to protect her. As a new mother, it was hard to take in all the new emotions that began to just rest upon me. Emotions of joy and fear all at the same time; everything was so difficult to process, and to be honest, I didn’t know where to begin.
If you are a new mother, then you understand exactly what I’m talking about. Where do we draw the line between our emotions and raising our child? What instincts are ones you act upon and which ones are harmful to the development of the child? In shorter terms, how do we do this thing called motherhood?
I needed some help.
Instead of trying to process through my newly natural maternal instincts and the unmarked territory of newly raw emotions by myself, I decided to gather around women who had raised and who are raising successful, healthy, godly children to help me. You see, my husband and I both came from families of divorce (some would call it broken families). We didn’t really know what an emotionally healthy family looked like, and I wasn’t taught how to process my emotions appropriately as a young girl. So, when I became a mother, I knew that it was no longer about me, but it was about raising a world changer in her generation, and that meant I needed to respond appropriately to the unhealthy emotions and instincts inside of me so I could raise her the way God has called me to. What I did is something I believe all new mothers should do; evaluate our unhealthy responses and ask for help.
There are two practical ways we can do this:
1. Reflect instead of deflect
We need to understand that our hearts cannot be trusted. In Jeremiah 17:9 it says, “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?”
Now, you’re probably wondering why I am talking about the heart. The heart is where our emotions are stored. In Matthew 12:34 Jesus says, “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” What we say and how we say it first comes from our heart. It’s important to take a step back and examine where your heart is. Is your heart full of frustration, impatience, fear, and hurt? Or is it filled with the fruit of the spirit, which is, peace, love, joy, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, patience, and self-control? (Galatians 5:22-23)
How we respond to certain situations in our lives will determine the condition of our heart. This is when you need to ask yourself, “Am I establishing and demonstrating healthy responses to my child or harmful responses? The reactions that we use towards people, situations, our spouses, and our children play a large part in how they will respond to people, situations, their spouses, and their children. We are called to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth (John 8:12), and that is what we need to be teaching our children. The changes we need to make in order to create emotional healthy boundaries in our families truly comes from following Jesus’ example. He was betrayed, misunderstood, criticized, beaten and crucified on the cross. Never do you find in The Bible that Jesus responded out of His emotions, but from the living word of God. When He hung on that cross, Jesus mouthed the words, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:24) If you ask me, that sounds nothing like leading by feelings and everything to do with leading by love.
As mothers in training we need to decide right now to lead by Jesus’ example of love, grace, and mercy; our children’s emotional stability depends on it.
Ask yourself this question: Am I creating a legacy of emotionally stable men and women in their generation? Or am I creating unhealthy and unstable men and women in their generation?
We need Shadrachs, Meshachs, and Abednegos who will stand up and fight when everyone else is camouflaging into culture.
Which leads me to my next point. How can we do this?
2. Find your Paul
A wise mentor of mine told me a few years ago that she was my Paul. I’m sure, just like me at the time, y’all are wondering what the heck that means. Haha. Glad you asked! A Paul is someone that you look up to; they are a godly mentor in your life. It’s extremely crucial that we have trusted women in our lives to counsel us in our time of need. In the book of Proverbs, it boldly tells its readers that, “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harms” (Proverbs 13:20)
The next ingredient to creating emotionally stable human beings is to demonstrate relationships that are emotionally stable and good for the soul. Having a Paul in your life will create an open space of trust and vulnerability in your heart. They are someone who you have handpicked to keep you accountable, help strengthen your weaknesses, sharpen out your strengths, and lean on for emotional support. When you are serious about making a sincere effort to become the best versions of yourself, mentors are there to make sure you do not stumble and fall. They will pick you up with love and mercy and leave you walking away with pockets of godly wisdom.
I can’t tell you how many times I have cried and opened up to my mentor about the unhealthy situations in my life. Each and every time she led me back towards Jesus and I walked away having one more nugget of wisdom on how to handle the situations appropriately.
I heard a beautiful analogy once that went a little something like this. As believers, we are all on the same path. None of us has reached the mountain top, but instead there are some who are just a little further ahead of you on the path and they are desperately saying, come! I’ve been where you’ve been. Let me help you get to where I am. As mothers, isn’t that we are doing with our children? We are guiding, training, sharpening, and leading them on the path God has for them. Mentors, in a sense, are a powerful illustration of how we can raise emotionally healthy, godly human beings.
We are never too proud to give ourselves an honest look in the mirror and reflect on our emotional weaknesses and we are never too good to ask for some honest help and accountability. As new mother’s we don’t know it all, but someone before knows something we don’t. So, here’s to raising fierce, bold, courageous, and loving children who know how to handle their emotions!
Alex is a stay at home mom to one young daughter, while pursuing a bachelor's degree in Christian Ministry. Her passions are helping women unlock their God-given potential and roles in their marriages, children, and extended family. Oh, and coffee, coffee, coffee! She resides in Kansas City, MO. Check her out on Instagram and Facebook!