When You’ve Lost Your Joy In the Midst of Marriage & Motherhood

When You've lost your joy

The tag line of my upcoming book is Finding Your Joy in God, Your Man, Your Kids and Your Home.

If you have followed me for more than 3 years you know that long ago I touched on the subject of depression just slightly.  The series was not well received because I personally have never suffered from clinical depression…so I deleted the series and decided that I would allow other women who have walked through this valley speak to this tender subject.

And though I have never been clinically depressed, like most,  I have had sad – very sad – seasons in life when I’ve lost my joy.

One sad season was when my husband was gone on a business trip over 200 nights in one year.  I stood at the window weekly, with little toddlers wrapped around my legs, waving bye bye to daddy with tears streaming down my cheeks.  This was a long and lonely season.

Every time I’ve moved from city to city – from my hometown to Chicago to Columbus and back to my hometown, I’ve experienced deep sadness that sometimes turned into anxiety and an outbreak of hives.

I’ve had dark days when tears came easy or I felt like a failure and like quitting everything in life.  We have had hard moments in our marriage where I’ve woken up to the reality of why some people throw in the towel when the going gets tough.  I get it…marriage is hard.

I’ve cried over my parenting struggles trying to raise my wild child and my whole family can attest to years of me –crying in the New Year– because I just get emotional on New Years Eve lol!…I get way too reflective and sad about all my failures, flaws, fears and frustrations.

Sometimes…I’m too serious for my own good.  I call this being a realist. And reality is harsh and cold sometimes – life is not all bubbles, balloons, butterflies and ladybugs.

And so I learned long ago that joy has had to become more than a feeling because God commands that we have it.

“Rejoice evermore.” – I Thessalonians 5:16

I have to fight for it.

I have to battle for it. I have to pursue it or my own emotions of sorrow simply squelch all my joy…till I’m a puddle on the floor in tears.  And that is not the woman you see on this blog.  By God’s grace, through the ups and downs, I have experience Psalm 40:2:

“He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”

Time and time again, I’ve slipped into a pit and found God to be my firm rock at the bottom.

And a book that has heavily influenced my joy through marriage and motherhood (and influenced the writing of my book) is John Piper’s When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy.  

Piper writes in the chapter titled When the Darkness Does Not Lift:

It will be of great advantage to the struggling Christian to remember that seasons of darkness are normal in the Christian life. I don’t mean that we should not try to live above them. I mean that if we do not succeed, we are not lost, and we are not alone, as the fragment of our faith cleaves to Christ. Consider the experience of David in Psalm 40:1-3.

I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD.

The king of Israel is in “the pit of destruction” and “the miry bog”— descriptions of his spiritual condition. The song of praise is coming, he says, but it is not now on his lips. It is as if David had fallen into a deep, dark well and plunged into life-threatening mud. There was one other time when David wrote about this kind of experience. He combined the images of mud and flood: “Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me” (Ps. 69:1-2).

In this pit of mud and destruction there is a sense of helplessness and desperation. Suddenly air, just air, is worth a million dollars. Helplessness, desperation, apparent hopelessness, the breaking point for the overworked businessman, the outer limits of exasperation for the mother of three constantly crying children, the impossible expec- tations of too many classes in school, the grinding stress of a lingering illness, the imminent attack of a powerful enemy. It is good that we don’t know what the experience was. It makes it easier to see ourselves in the pits with the king. Anything that causes a sense of helplessness and desperation and threatens to ruin life or take it away—that is the king’s pit.

HOW LONG, O LORD, HOW LONG!

Then after the cry you wait. “I waited patiently for the LORD.” This is crucial to know: Saints who cry to the Lord for deliverance from pits of darkness must learn to wait patiently for the Lord. There is no statement about how long David waited. I have known saints who walked through eight years of debilitating depression and came out into glorious light. Only God knows how long we must wait. We saw this in Micah’s experience in Chapter Six. “I sit in darkness . . . until [the Lord] pleads my cause and . . . will bring me out to the light” (see Micah 7:8- 9). We can draw no deadlines for God. He hastens or he delays as he sees fit. And his timing is all-loving toward his children. Oh, that we might learn to be patient in the hour of darkness. I don’t mean that we make peace with darkness. We fight for joy. But we fight as those who are saved by grace and held by Christ.

Friends, if you are in a time of sadness or depression, I recommend this book and if you can’t get through the first 200 pages just flip ahead to the final chapter on depression.  This chapter has been a great comfort to me AND the PDF version of this book is FREE on Piper’s website here. Yes – free! :)

I own these 4 well-worn books by John Piper.

piper books

And I have read many more books by John Piper because he offers the PDF version to over 50 books on his website FREE  at DesiringGod.org - is that not an amazing gift?  What a true minister of God’s word!  I hope you would take the time to browse his books and see if any of them can help you with a spiritual matter you are struggling with.

Chime In:  Have you struggled with a loss of joy?  How did God help you overcome this season of life?

What books have you read or recommend by John Piper?

Walk with the King,

 

 

**This post is a part of the Top 10 Quotes on Marriage and Motherhood Series.  Each Monday I am featuring one book that was used as a resource for my book that is about to be released October 1st!  

Top 10 Marriage and Motherhood Quotes

Joy

 

 Be joyful always. ~ I Thessalonians 5:16

Walk with the King,

When the Bottom Falls Out

Last summer, my husband was walking down our deck stairs holding my daughters hand… they stepped on one stair (these are higher up than they appear in the picture) and it gave out – then they stepped to the next stair and it gave out too!  Thankfully my husband had my daughter by the hand and she did not fall through.  He strong armed her onto the 3rd step down but he got injured from gripping the railing – the wood punctured his hand and later developed an infection - it was just a mess!

The bottom fell out literally for him that day.

But I think of so many blessings in that moment.  I am thankful he was holding her hand…if he had not been holding it – she would have fallen through!  I am thankful that he has a strong hand that was able to get her to the next step safely.  I am thankful that he took the injury in place of her being injured…and it makes me think of Jesus and his strong hand and how he has endured the pain of the cross for us..

In Hebrews 13:5 he says “Never will I leave you, Never will I forsake you.”

God is always with us – he has a strong hand that upholds us when the bottom falls out.  He has taken the pain of our sin upon him and covered it over at the foot of the cross…he loves us, protects us, comforts us and never will leave us.

So the bottom fell out for me today…

I had a rough week last week with a cold that turned into Laryngitis and then my washing machine broke with a load in it and more loads to go… and really I was just feeling whiny last week!  I thought surely this week would be better…

But today my son tied our wagon to his bike and my daughter got in and he pulled her along – until she flew out!  She knocked out her two front teeth (which thankfully were baby teeth) but really scraped up her face.  Her lips are swollen and right now she can’t close her mouth to drink or eat…I’m pouring water into her mouth :(

Waaaaaaaaaaaah!

Sitting in the emergency room – I put on a smile for the kids…but inside I wanted to just throw up!  The blood was a little more than I could bare!  And the butterflies came as I worried about all the worse case scenarios. After X-rays, some reassurance from the Dr. that her mouth will eventually close again when the swelling goes down (lol! I needed that reassurance!), and some comfort from facebook friends :)  I am feeling a little better.

(I took a picture of my daughter’s face but I could see at the Dr.’s office she was embarrassed of it – she complained that she looked like a clown – so I thought it best not to share it with you all right now…but on Saturday we are having her 7th birthday party – so I’ll be taking pictures then – you’ll get to see her toothless smile next week when I post pictures.)

But as we drove to the ER, I prayed with the kids and I told them - even though this took us by surprise, this did not take God by surprise.  When we woke up this morning – God knew this accident would happen today.  His strong hand was with us – and he carried my little girl to the 3rd step down.

And in hard times like tonight – when the tears seem to flow easy…I’m reminded of John Piper’s words:

It is crucial that in our darkness we affirm the wise, strong hand of God to hold us, even when we have no strength to hold him.  This is the way Paul thought in Phil. 3:12 “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.” ESV

The key thing to see in this verse is that all Paul’s efforts to grasp the fullness of joy in Christ are secured by Christ’s grasp of him.  Never forget that your security rests on Christ’s faithfulness first.

Christ is faithful first!  It is HIS mercies that are new every morning (Lamentations 3:23).  HE gave me just enough mercy to make it through last week’s inconveniences.  HE gave me the mercy I needed for today – when this frazzled mama just wanted to cry her eyes out in the waiting room and I am counting on HIS mercies for tomorrow’s trials!  I can testify - HE is faithful first!

Some days we have to fight for joy.  We have to fight to see God in the hard things of life.  It is crucial that in our dark moments we remember that though our grasp on God may feel weak – He has a strong hold on us.

Walk with the King,

Sometimes I’m a Critical & Cranky Wife

Sometimes I can be cranky…especially when my husband parents differently than I do. For example, I like an early bedtime and lately my husband has been allowing the children to stay up late…too late for mommy’s patience! lol!  And when I get cranky…I get critical…

It’s easy for me to slip into the role of teacher and judge to my poor husband. I think as wives, we see our husbands faults and point them out – but does taking that role ever bring a woman marital bliss? Nope!

We know that when our husbands fell in love with us it was NOT because we were wonderful teachers and judges…

They married us because they loved the sparkle in our eye when we smiled at them.

They loved how we made them feel.

They loved how we respected their thoughts and wanted to hear and understand them.

They loved how we embraced their dreams of the future and were so trusting and loyal and how we overlooked their short comings.

 
Then they married us – and well – Proverbs 19:13 says “a quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping.”
 
Do you catch yourself maybe not criticizing your husband out loud but thinking critical thoughts in your heart – maybe he comes home late from work one night and your annoyed that dinner is cold. Then he does it again. Then he does it again and suddenly you boil over with anger and an abundance of bitterness comes out.  Yea – I’ve been there!
Luke 6:45 says “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.
 What if in the dinner situation, we thought how blessed we are to have such a hard working husband who brings a pay check home so we can have a warm home, food on the table and a bright future for the children? There are women who are all alone at dinner time with no husband to be expected. They are living pay check to pay check and worried about their children’s future. If we thought this way – when our husband walked through the door he’d be greeted with a warm hug (and maybe a big ol’ wet kiss) rather than the cold shoulder.
Who we are at home, behind closed doors, is who we really are.
Do our husbands come home to a quarrelsome wife or a wife who has a sparkle in her smile when she looks at him?
 
Do our husbands feel judged by us or do they love the way we make them feel?
 
Now you may say – “but Courtney – you don’t know the awful things my husband does“!
 
I don’t – you are correct – but I do know that God’s word says to not be quarrelsome and to store up good things in our hearts – it’s important we follow God’s principles in marriage.
 
Sometimes, we need to have a talk with our husbands to air or resolve issues .  But other times we need to choose to overlook their flaws and look at our own.   The reality is – I can be a critical and cranky wife at times and that is not okay.  We need to  resolve our own heart issues and choose to have joy because joy does not come from our husbands but from God. 

Walk with the King!

Courtney