I knew we were in trouble as soon as I heard the sound of my daughter’s cackling laughter. When the sound of a toilet flushing joined the laughter only a heartbeat later, I was already heading toward the stairs.
My daughter stopped laughing. She called out a worried “Mommy?” that was hardly reassuring.
I felt the crisis, quite literally, when I reached the top of the stairs. There was water on the floor. This was bad.
When I finally reached the scene, I discovered that my daughter had unrolled almost an entire roll of toilet paper and had tried to stuff it all down the toilet. Now the toilet was seriously clogged and was overflowing.
The moments that followed my discovery were not some of my best moments. I frantically called my husband, and he told me how to turn off the water. That solved the most pressing crisis. But I was still left with a mess. And a very frustrated heart.
By the time my husband got home that evening, I was in tears. I felt like a failure, not an “I-tried-a-new-recipe-that-was-a-complete-flop” failure, but a soul-crippling one. I was battle-weary, not just from dealing with three disobedient children all day, but from dealing with my own sinful self. I felt like I had utterly failed at being a mom. I was sure that I was ruining my children.
This sense of failure hung on for a while. I would feel it when I would go to church and see other moms who, from my perspective, had it all together, or when I checked my social media accounts. Clean houses. Fancy dinners. Little girls in gorgeous, hand-sewn dresses. Fun (and educational!) activities. These perfect pictures of seemingly perfect families taunted me and cultivated my own sense of personal failure.
Then one Sunday morning, my husband gave me a copy of The Battle Within by J. Robin Wood. That book, which I started reading the very day I received it, was a balm to my battered soul. Even the forward gave me hope:
I am convinced that marriage and motherhood are extreme tests of selflessness. I am also convinced that every woman who enters these responsibilities is unprepared for the extent of the selflessness required, and that we are doomed to failure if we try to succeed by ourselves, in our own strength, and for our own happiness.
But there is hope—an absolute rock-solid truth. God is faithful. His Word is powerful and full of comfort. And there is help—real, credible support.
We have everything we need in His Word and through His Spirit to defeat the power of our personal Supermom—our own sinful nature.1
The author of this book is very much like me. She’s a stay-at-home mom with three very young children and is trying to juggle the responsibilities of helping her husband, training her children, and ministering to the body of Christ. She’s very transparent—from the very first pages of the book you realize that she’s not perfect in any of those roles. That transparency was very comforting to me. It helped me realize that I’m not alone in my struggle.
But the author didn’t just offer me a sympathetic “I’ve been there too” pat on the back. She pointed me to the only path to victory, God’s Word. She urged me to look deep within my own soul, to confess my sin, and to renew my mind continually with Scripture.
For as long as I am in this world, I’m going to struggle against my sinful flesh. I’m going to fail. But, as Robin Wood reminds readers, I’m not alone. God truly has given me all that I need—not just to defeat sin but to encourage my heart day by day.
If you or someone you know is struggling under the weight of responsibility that motherhood brings, I would strongly recommend The Battle Within.
1 J. Robin Wood, The Battle Within: What Being a Mom Taught Me About Myself (Greenville, SC: JourneyForth, 2015), i–ii.