by Vanessa Stimmel

“and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”1 Corinthians 11:24 

“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.– Philippians 3:7-11

Motherhood has wrecked me. It’s brought me to my knees continually. This journey has taken me to both the highest of mountaintops and the deepest of valleys. The constant changing, learning, letting go, leaning in, sacrificing, surrendering, stretching, and so on has often left me speechless.

Most days I find myself with so much to say, yet no words to express the experience of these short and intense first years. What the days look like and how I’m feeling are often hard to describe. The depth of love combined with the overwhelming weight of responsibility is incredibly challenging to hash out internally.

I came into motherhood with various pictures and scenarios in my head of what it would be like. Most of them were wrong and grossly underestimated. Particularly the physical aspect of the first couple of years.

The other day my arms shook as I carried my hefty infant and large toddler down the steps – at the same time. As I set them down at the bottom of the stairs I suddenly felt the toll the last few years has taken on my body. Two pregnancies in three years, breastfeeding for most of that time, chronic lack of quality sleep, and always moving or carry someone or something. My neck hurt. My lower back ached. My knees crackled. I had never remembered feeling so utterly exhausted before. I felt as though my body had been through the ringer.

“Is my body even mine anymore?” I thought to myself.
“This is my body, broken for you,” I felt the Holy Spirit press upon my heart. And in that moment I remembered that my body has never actually been mine at all. It’s just that I was now aware of this truth in a fresh way.

In 1 Corinthians 11:24, the word “for” actually means “offered as a sacrifice.” What Jesus is saying here is that He is willingly and freely offering himself as a sacrifice for us. Wow. If God in his might, power, and supremacy, would willingly have the body of His precious Son destroyed for me in a far more brutal way than what I was experiencing in early motherhood, how much more should I be willing to be poured out for my children as a picture to them of His perfect love, goodness, and ultimate sacrifice?

So when I feel worn out and weak, physically aching, wondering how I am going to make it to the end of the day, I am actually sharing in the sufferings of Christ. When I choose to surrender my emotions to the Lord and discipline my toddler from a place of righteous indignation as opposed to unholy anger, I am becoming like Him. When it takes every ounce of strength left in me for my feet to hit the cold, hardwood floor again in the middle of the night to answer my infant’s cries, I am gaining Jesus.

And this is the beauty of parenthood as a follower of Christ: when we consider as garbage the personal gains we once considered as treasure, and when we die to ourselves for the sake of the unique mission Jesus has given us to love and disciple our children, we discover a deep knowing of Him and profound resurrection life in Him. We walk more in step with Christ than we ever did before.

This not only brings all the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) to our hearts, but also to our home and those living there. When we stop fighting against the sanctification process as a parent, and intentionally take the journey to die to ourselves in order to “know Him and be found in Him,” the Spirit breathes life into us and around us. And that is something worth being tired for. More so, it’s something worth letting our very soul’s die for.