WHEN NURTURING LIFE FEELS LIKE DYING by Liz Wann for Core Christianity
Sometimes, parenting can just be too much. There are many times when I reach my breaking point. It’s not just the physical needs of my children that are demanding, but their emotional, mental, and spiritual needs as well. I’m playing the peacemaker between my two sons, I’m counseling, I’m discussing heart issues. Just a day of working through behavioral issues can be enough to drain me.
So it’s not an overstatement to say that often, parenting feels like death. It’s a constant laying down of our lives.
We tend to think that life precedes death, but in the kingdom of God the reverse is true: death precedes life. Jesus taught that we must die to self in order to experience any true life in our hearts.
And what beautiful new life it is. The hard things of parenthood are like sandpaper, rubbing back our rough edges and making us smooth. The Holy Spirit is using parenthood to refine us.
Parenting Involves Dying to Self
So when does parenthood feel like death to you?
It may be the disappointment of unexpected circumstances. It’s a type of loss. For me, that looked like a ruined birth plan, a traumatic labor and delivery, a newborn in the NICU, baby blues, and sleepless nights. I didn’t expect to feel sadness and loneliness when I brought my baby home.
There is also a feeling of dying to self when we live out the mundanity of daily parenting. The ordinary small things of family life can be like the annoyance of a dripping faucet.
Or maybe for you, it’s suffering in parenthood that can feel like death, whether that’s through living with chronic illness, dealing with postpartum depression, or walking through crises of parenting. But when we embrace the daily deaths we face as mothers and fathers, we can humbly offer our struggles to God. He will meet us in our depression, anxiety, stress, sleep deprivation, anger, frustration, and lack of patience. This is exactly where he wants us. This humble embracing of death is fertile ground for new and deeper life.
Know His Resurrection
Amidst all the pain of parenthood, we can hold on to a promise: when we become like Jesus in his death, we come to know the power of his resurrection through the Holy Spirit. This was true for martyrs being burned at the stake and, in a far smaller way, is true for new mothers facing sleepless nights. It is true at the end of our lives and throughout our days on earth. We must bury ourselves like a grain of wheat, so that our death will bear fruit (John 12:24).