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A Gentle God - iBelieve Truth - April 16, 2024

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"He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart. He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young." Isaiah 40:11 (NLT)

If there is one thing that has crushed but healed me, destroyed but restored me, burdened yet freed me, it's motherhood. I remember when we were driving my son home from the hospital last June, my husband said with wide eyes, "I can't believe they just let us take him home with no instructions." Oh, how I underestimated my ineptness to care for such a wrinkly, innocent creature.

I had so many plans for sleep training, I had watched so many videos on infant psychology, and I had prayed all the prayers to prepare my heart. But postpartum depression was so fierce that I spent nearly four months constantly crying. I was so in love with this baby boy but deeply grieving my pre-mom freedom. I smelled of sour milk, was constantly drenched in pee, and wasn't supposed to drink the big doses of caffeine to help.

"What did I just do?" I asked my mom on the phone, having a meltdown. "I don't know if I can do this for eighteen years."

The truth is that, deep down, I didn't know a love so strong could exist. I loved my son so much that I was terrified. Everything now seemed like a threat to his livelihood—driving him places, letting people hold him, letting him sleep swaddled versus unswaddled (or on his back versus stomach). My brain couldn't hold all the fight-or-flight responses that my body wanted to engage, so I was left feeling hopeless. Hopelessly unable to love this child perfectly. 

And I hated myself for it. 

My little love is now almost ten months old, and thanks be to God, I feel bits of myself returning, like my sarcasm and my need to write poetry. But the guilt I conjure for myself at the end of each day still feels insurmountable. I always find one million ways that I could've been more patient, taken more time to play with him, found a better, healthier snack, and the list drones on. 

But I think glimpses of heaven exist everywhere, even in guilt-ridden, scary places like the early stages of motherhood. So if you're a new mom like me—or mom guilt weighs extra heavy today—I want to share a few bits of encouragement with you:

Perhaps this terrifying love, the kind that makes us hold our breath every second our kids aren't in our arms, shows us how ever-present God is. He is a gentle God who isn't afraid of scary love, choosing to sit with His children in their every thought and every breath. If He is so gentle, so intentional, so unrelenting in His victory over fear, could our children ever be safer? (Probably not.)

Perhaps this terrifying love, the kind that has made our lives and livelihood mean nothing in light of our children, shows us how sacrificial our gentle God is. He obligingly surrendered His Son, His only Son, who quietly, humbly, and without a fuss went to the cross to bleed and die for those who could never reciprocate His love for them. 

Perhaps God's gentleness is most evident in the fussy midnight diaper changes. Perhaps God's gentleness is most visible in the thick fog of mom guilt. Perhaps God's gentleness is everywhere we aren't gentle with our children and ourselves. Perhaps God's gentleness rests especially in the hearts of mamas—because who could understand moms better than God the Father?

Let's pray: Good Father, I could never understand the depth of love you have for me, that you would gently give up your only Child for people who would mock him, spit at him, and seek to destroy Him. May your gentleness be the very resource we employ on days when we feel inept, unable, frustrated, angry, short-tempered, overwhelmed, and wildly confused with the task of raising tiny creatures for your honor and glory. As Isaiah 40:11 says, thank you Father for holding us close to your heart and for guiding us—with our children—through our days. We praise you for being a God of goodness, gentleness, and hope. In your Name, Amen. 

Photo Credit: ©Getty/Sasiistock

Peyton Garland headshotPeyton Garland is an author and Tennessee farm mama sharing her heart on OCD, church trauma, and failed mom moments. Follow her on Instagram @peytonmgarland and check out her latest book, Tired, Hungry, & Kinda Faithful, to discover Jesus' hope in life's simplest moments.

Related Resource: Spring Clean Your Life: 10 Simple Tips for a Joyful Home & Work Life

Are you a Christian mom trying to juggle work and home? You're not alone! I'm Rebekah Scott, host of The Encourager Podcast, where I share insights gained from 15+ years of balancing family and running a business. My aim is to help you find harmony inall your important roles. Join me as we explore ways to create systems for success at home and work while keeping it real!

In this episode, we're simplifying spring cleaning with two easy tips for each of our five systems: Me, Food, Family, Work and Home. Join us as we explore practical ways to bring joy and simplicity into your home and work life! And if you love what you hear, be sure to subscribe on Apple or Spotify so you never miss an episode! 

Originally published Tuesday, 16 April 2024.