During the last two decades, I performed gargantuan feats while struggling to hold my large family together through flood, trauma, violence, poverty, and recovery. The events of those hardscrabble years filled me with increasing anxiety and terror as calamity after calamity befell us and our children were harmed. My health was changed forever. All of us were affected.

In the middle of it all, sometimes I didn’t do very well. Battered down, I often reacted selfishly, rather than with patience and love. I wasn’t a perfect mother.

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O, how badly I wanted to be a perfect mother, not only for those decades but for all thirty-six years of my mothering! Because I adore my children, I wanted to be Supermom 24/7. But I am human. It was impossible. It still is.

Past mommy failures are what torment me as I now try to recover.

As I evaluate the effects on me, the first decade of trial was my breaking down. In 1993 I was assured of my abilities, prideful in my spirituality, self-reliant, and legalistic. That was all destroyed. And I am glad. Good riddance! The second decade was the recovery. All were filled with crushing trial and enormous blessing side by side, like a bipolar emotional roller coaster.

Now I find myself humbled, aware of my inabilities, and reliant on Christ for my growth and sanctification. I am changed. I am still recovering. I am healing. I am learning to be brave.


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Bravery requires:

  • the constant remembrance that Christ is near
  • the awareness that he stands by me—comforting, encouraging, and sympathizing
  • the knowledge that his Spirit fills me
  • the trust that he empowers me for everything he gives me to do

In other words, it’s the awareness that it’s Jesus, not me, who has the strength. And he is right here with me, eager and willing to help. If I had grasped the importance of moment-by-moment reliance upon Jesus sooner, all would have gone much better.

From where does courage come? 

Courage comes from knowing God and what he has promised. That knowledge comes from God’s Word. The truths about bravery listed above are from Philippians 2:1-5 and 4:4-9, 2 Peter 1:1-4, and Hebrews 4:14-16—life-giving passages.

Courage is empowered by faith that trusts God to keep his promises. Faith is a gift from God, not something we conjure on our own. When we can’t believe, we ask God for the ability.

But, this isn’t a check-off-the-bullet-points type of recovery. In fact, I hesitated to put bravery’s requirements in bullet-point, lest it look simple. This is messy. It requires day by day growth, yielding, and learning to trust.

A room with a view

darwin Bell via Compfight

If you’re struggling through recovery, if just getting out of bed today was an act of extreme courage, daily turn to those passages in bold. Let the truth soak in. Ask the Lord to help you believe and apply his prescription, regardless of how you feel.

Jesus came to help. He cheers and empowers our ability to simply peek out from under the covers, to sit up, and to put our feet on the floor. And, he loves us through every part of our journey: our failures, our remorse, our repentance, and our learning to trust.

“Come to me,” he says, “all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30 ESV).

Come to him. Rest. Let him empower your recovery.


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