On March 1st, I entered into the world of motherhood. At 2:16 a.m. Kingsley Joy North made her appearance for the very first time. The second my 7 lb baby girl was placed on my chest, I knew my life would never be the same.
The months leading up to her birth were filled with nausea, heartburn, ever-fluctuating emotions, hard conversations, and 9 p.m. bedtimes. Between my 12 hour shifts as a mental health nurse at the hospital and Josh’s job as a pizza delivery driver, I spent the majority of my time either working or sitting on the couch at home by myself. In the midst of the loneliness and exhaustion, God gave me a word that I adopted as my anthem for both pregnancy and motherhood. The word? Grace.
Now I am very familiar with the verse in 2 Corinthians that states: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” However, I had never before leaned into God’s grace the way I did after I found out I was pregnant. Not only did I have to trust that God had enough grace for me in the difficult moments, God also challenged me to extend grace to myself. I was no longer allowed to beat myself up for watching an entire season of Heartland on Netflix instead of cleaning the bathroom. I wasn’t to feel guilty for indulging in the occasional Snickers bar at work (let’s be honest – it was more than occasional), but was instead to do my best to eat a balanced diet. I leaned into God’s grace more and more as my patience grew shorter and shorter during long shifts at work and I needed His strength to not melt into a puddle of tears. As I said yes to grace, the Lord began working in me to let go of the checklist of behaviors I had created and instead let myself off the hook. I realized He would not love me any less if my to-do list remained incomplete, if I ate a Snickers bar a day, or if I cried at work. He also began to teach me the value of self-care and listening to my body. The most significant lesson (one that I am still learning) was to be okay with asking for and receiving help. I am learning that it’s okay to not have it all together and to allow community to meet needs that would otherwise go unmet.
All of these lessons have continued into motherhood. I am 7 weeks in and my days still consist mostly of sleeping, changing diapers, feeding Kingsley, and watching Netflix. I do the occasional load of laundry and sink full of dishes. If I am super ambitious or full of energy, I sweep the floors and clean the bathroom. I consider going on a weekly walk to be a major victory. But some of my biggest accomplishments over the past few weeks? Admitting to a close friend that we had only one newborn outfit for Kingsley when she was born and receiving a bag full of sweet little sleepers so my baby wouldn’t be naked for her first month of life. Allowing my friend and mentor to bring me lunch instead of touting my usual “thanks, but I’m fine” when she asked if that’s something I would like. Letting my cousin scrub my bathtub, a job that I hate and that gets done far less often than I care to admit. I have learned to ask for and receive help with grace.
As I reflect on the past few months, I can truly say that God has indeed met me with His presence in the moments when I least expected it. One day soon after Kingsley was born and Josh had returned to work, I experienced my first poop explosion. It resulted in me having to bathe Kingsley by myself, something I had never done, as well as having to change my own clothes. By the time we were both clean, my poor baby was traumatized and just needed snuggles. I popped her in my lifesaving baby carrier, where she promptly fell asleep. Since it was the first time my arms had been free for two weeks, I decided to fold a load of laundry. As I was folding little sleepers and burp rags, the song “So Much Grace” by Jonathan Helser flooded my mind. I began singing the verse “there’s so much grace” over and over again. As I sang, the Lord overwhelmed me with His presence and I began to cry. I sat in the rocking chair in the nursery and sang and cried and poured my longings for Kingsley and our family out before my precious Lord. I felt so blessed that my Father would meet me in the midst of such a mundane task and affirm who I am as His daughter and as Kingsley’s mother. His grace truly was enough for me.
Whatever you need grace for in this season, know that God will supply it in abundance, perhaps in ways and places and through people that you would never expect. Say yes to grace and watch and see what He does.