Last Updated on July 16, 2018

Sometimes I feel faceless.

A couple of weeks ago after noticing the rather bleak “I’m gonna crack” expression on my face, my husband shooed me out the door with the words, “Go have fun. Go be you. Don’t feel like you need to be productive.” Such a sweet gesture. And then came my unreasonable irritation! I was overwhelmed from momhood, so far from knowing what I personally would enjoy that I actually wanted him to give me some idea of what to do.

I felt brain-numb driving to the local coffee shop, enough that it was hard to create a single independent thought. I remember thinking, I used to be an interesting, intelligent person! My kids don’t even really understand that I had a life apart from them.

There was a time in my life when I went to work and had challenging conversations full of complete sentences. I had evidences of immediate success (as opposed to eight months and counting in potty-training my toddler). If I cleaned my office, I was also the one who messed it up. I ate lunch sitting down. Everyone around me went to the bathroom all by themselves.

Somehow I felt like a couple of hours away could only go so far to recover dormant parts of myself, or to rejuvenate from such profound exhaustion.

I don’t know about you. But in the midst of caring for my family nearly 24/7, I can find that identity all-consuming. Let me be straight: I haven’t yet completely figured out what a healthy state looks like here.

In a culture that’s all about “me,” it’s hard to reconcile that Jesus,

[verse reference=”Philippians 2:6-8″]Who, being in very nature God … made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant … he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross![/verse]

In some versions, “made Himself nothing” is translated He emptied, He poured out. I have discovered that being a mom can offer me considerable practice at this.

Yet even though God may be pouring me out as a mom, finding myself “faceless” can be an indicator to me that I’m also simply enabling my kids, being a slave to them in a way that spoils them and allows them to treat me as though I am faceless, not teaching them to honor me as their mother —which in turn teaches them how to honor God.

[verse reference=”Ephesians 6:2″]Honor your father and mother – which is the first commandment with a promise — [/verse]

It often means I’m not resting, which can be representative of my pride (I don’t need to rest, Lord—I can do it!) or lack of trust (if I don’t do this now, then … ).

More likely for me, it can mean that I’m not working in joy, contentedness, humility, and submission, embracing God’s purpose for me; I’m just being a martyr! (Guess I can’t really say I’m taking up my cross if I’m complaining about it most of the time.)

As John Piper writes, God is most glorified when I’m most satisfied in Him. Alone. That’s even if I were utterly useless. It’s whether I’m appreciated, or whether I fail at finding joy and contentment, or whether the days are long with no coffee break in sight. And it’s as true for me as a weary mom as it has been or will be in any other season of life.

It turns out that logging in some time at the coffee shop (skinny and decaf for this nursing mom) was more deeply renewing than I could have anticipated. My husband, of course, was more than capable—turns out I was not entirely indispensable—and it was good for all of us that I was away, remembering that my identity exists beyond “Mom.”

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  1. Paul Kroger says:

    Janel, great article! Thanks for your honesty and for making the daily choice to be obedient to following God's plan for your life even though it isn't easy. But, His reward is certain!
    Matthew 16:25 (NASB)
    "For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it."
    I know this verse isn't written about motherhood, but the principle applies to all areas of our lives that relate to submitting to God's plan and purposes.
    Stay the course, it's worth it!
    Have a great day in Christ,
    Paul Kroger

  2. Mindy Mills says:

    I love you and I am so glad you are a normal mom! When you and I both moved away from Colorado and you only had 1 of your 3 I remember thinking you seemed to have it all so together, you were so calm and assured. I felt like I was barely holding my head above my pile of laundry. I miss you and I wish we could go to the park together! Thanks for a great post on a great blog!

  3. nicole greer says:

    I love your thoughts and so glad I am not the only one who feels used at times for a job I signed up for, even begged for. So hard to reconcile that inside. BUt you are right in being intentional in both the way we serve and the way our children needt o honor us in return. Will be reading your blogs again soon.
    Nicole Greer