In Part 1, we asked the question- “Are You A ‘Mommy Martyr?'” That article gives a fleshing out of what it looks like to take on the identity of a ‘mommy martyr’ as well as some of the ways it affects our lives.
Today (in Part 2), I want to look at 7 ways we can leave the “mommy martyr” complex behind and intentionally put on our identity in Christ.
In contrast with the description of the churning, ever-tired, never-satisfied woman we looked at in part one, I believe we are meant to be women who see ourselves as God sees us:
- weaker vessels
- in need of the gentle leading and care of our Shepherd
- temporary mist (like a vapor)— here today, gone tomorrow
- withering, like flowers of the grass
- strong in Christ
- Recognizes her limitations
- Sees herself realistically
- Sees others realistically
- Recognizes God’s bigness, and thus, doesn’t feel like she has to do everything
- Seeks to have her needs met in the right ways
- Expresses her needs and hurts in appropriate ways, to appropriate people
- Is not actively churning while wearing a smile (soul hypocrisy). Rather, her outsides match her insides.
This is the kind of woman I aspire to be.
I don’t want to (inwardly) churn my way through life. I want my outside to match my inside.
I’d like to steward my body, mind, and soul well, with an awareness of my own human insufficiency, and God’s ultimate power. Less concerned with the goings-on of others, and more concerned about loving others. Less concerned about my own busyness and more concerned about the business God has expressly put on my plate. Less concerned about being “right,” and more concerned about words that are seasoned with the grace of the Gospel. Less concerned about activities and more concerned about the attitudes of my heart.
WHAT CAN WE DO TO AVOID BEING (OR BECOMING) A “MOMMY MARTYR?”
- Look at yourself in light of Scripture: recognize your own human weakness, and the human weakness of people around you.
- Purposefully look for ways to avoid burnout before it happens. Though it may sound odd, put this way, *YOU* are someone that needs to be cared for, just like everyone else in your household.
- Begin committing to ONLY the things you can do joyfully. The world will not fall apart if you don’t “do it all.” Purposefully say “yes” to the thing that you can rightly, joyfully, whole-heartedly say “yes” to. And then, say “no” without guilt to the other queries that come your way.
- Choose to stop the comparisons when they start going in your brain. No one benefits when we compare. Others are put down, or put up on pedestals. We are discouraged, or become puffed up. Comparison is never, ever a good thing.
- Ask others to help when you believe it’s needed. Don’t expect anyone– husband, children, friends, relatives, fellow church members– to be able to read your mind! And keep in mind the difference between a daily “load” and a one-another-sized burden.
- Walk in a way so that your inside matches your outside. If you find yourself churning inside, do something about it– take action! Don’t let your heart grow accustomed to this kind of soul hypocrisy.
- And, perhaps most importantly: Choose to do the things you do IN CHRIST, not in your own human strength.
This last point can be the most difficult when we have taken on the attitude of a mommy martyr. For so long, we have yearned for human notice and attention given to the activities and “successes” of our lives.
I believe this can be an easy “idol” for stay-home moms who long for the praise and positional respect that we’re “missing out on” by not climbing the rungs of a career ladder. We have to guard our hearts against this longing for human praise and notice. We must fight against self-pity that fuels a belief that we are under-praised, under-noticed, and deserving of more than we are given.
Instead of “doing, doing, doing” in our own strength (which, ultimately, is working for our own glory), we can opt to walk in the power God supplies– like Colossians 1:29 describes:
For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.
The goal for us is not to do everything in our own power. Instead, true strength comes when we recognize that we CAN’T “do it all,” and instead:
- align ourselves under King Jesus, inquiring of Him what HE would have us do.
- align ourselves under whatever authorities God has put in our lives — this means asking your husband, or your parents (if you’re younger), and possibly your elders or others for wisdom about what you should be doing.
- And then do what the verse says: “TOIL” — working strenuously with all “HIS ENERGY” that HE will powerfully work within you.
Rely on Him. Lean on His Word. Look to His priorities. And do the things that He leads you to do.
Our Good Shepherd doesn’t lead us to burnout. That’s the place we end up when we are going and doing and striving in our own efforts… even when the places we are going are “good” places and the things we are doing are “good” things.
To avoid being a “Mommy Martyr,” carefully evaluate your “yes”es and commit to what you can joyfully do, supplied by God’s strength.
Hang in there, Mama. We’re all works in progress, but let’s progress closer to our Savior, fixing our identity IN HIM, and move away from the “Mommy Martyr” identity.
IN THE COMMENTS:
- Discuss with me: Have you seen a tendency in yourself to try to do things in your own human strength, rather than living daily in the energy and strength Christ supplies?
Image courtesy of: stockimages/freedigitalphotos.net
3 thoughts on “7 Ways to Stop Being a “Mommy Martyr””
It is so easy to get caught up in to-dos and should-dos, and lose sight of WHY we’re doing what we are. As a mom to two little ones (3 and 1), I often want to get “just one more thing” done before I’m interrupted. I tend to make an idealized plan for my next fifteen minutes, four hours, or day, and then get frustrated with them for having needs. 🙂
When I step back and focus – align myself, like you said – it is so much simpler and clearer. For now, my main priority is (that is, should be) to teach them about life – how to function in this world, how to enjoy one another, and what God is like; being quickly frustrated at any deviation from the plan is not exactly the kind of example I want to be setting! Not only that, it belies my dependence on my own way and my own strength, rather than looking to God for my place, my priorities, and my strength.