Truth is... motherhood is the hardest thing to have happened to me. Like a hot strip of wax, all the false idols that previously made me feel good were ripped out. I had slipped off Aladdin's magic carpet and was making my way down to earth... breastfeeding baby in tow. I finally landed….thud.
On one particularly exhausting evening, my husband came home early from work. I slid my feet off the bed, eager to talk to him. Something had changed. I felt empty… hollow… as if I had not a drop of blood. I was going to die. I sat down. The next few hours changed my perspective on life. The research paper I had written about post-partum depression was becoming all too real. But one thing could not be explained by depression or anxiety; I was not ready to meet God. I was shocked. When death seems to be a second away, all pretensions melt. What you have done for God, doesn’t count, no matter how noble…are you with God? Turns out I was not good soil (Matt. 13). Yes, the seed had gone in, down, up… but not out. I was worshipping a harsh task master… myself. In retrospect, I am so thankful for the night I thought I was going to die, but didn’t. God had extended His hand to me when I was just a child and I had held it… and then left it… the pattern continued. But now I needed freedom from my own tyranny, I needed God… desperately.
Much has happened between then and now, but one discipline, which didn’t start out as spiritual in nature has revolutionised my life. I jumped on the intermittent fasting bandwagon solely to improve my health. While gains in the physical aspect have been as fast as a sloth’s activity level, the spiritual side-effects were hard to miss. Embracing a lifestyle of discipline in eating helped me exercise discipline in all areas. I was no longer a slave to my cravings. Saying no to food made it easier to recognise and say no to other unhelpful reactions. The times when I gave in and just ate something I wanted, I was surprised by how empty the promise of fulfilment was. I would have been fine without it, better in fact. The only one who never disappointed me was God. I never regretted spending time with Him.
If you read the story of Daniel, you see that he wanted to follow a strict diet and not eat from the king’s table. Why? Ravi Zacharias, in one of his sermons, suggests that Daniel embraced self-control in the area of food, so that he would be able to exercise self-control in other areas too; areas of far more significance than food. Ravi Zacharias is on to something in his conclusions. I committed to studying the Bible along with a few others in a small group. We studied the book of Romans together, but my thirst was not satisfied. I wanted to go deeper, and admire the word of God like Gollum looked at his ‘precious’. I needed my precious to take control of me, to transform me.
Romans 8:1 says, ‘Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus’. No condemnation. No condemnation when I irrationally get upset with my daughter, when I disrespect my husband, when I am just plain lazy, when I grumble… no condemnation because I am in Christ Jesus. I stand firm in grace… the most beautiful place imaginable; prettier than the prettiest sunset you have ever seen, more awe inspiring than the Sistine Chapel or the Swiss Alps. Living in grace has changed everything. Jesus paid for my condemnation once and for all, and so I can be free. During the days when I was my own god, condemnation was my crown, but now… I am free! Free to get up and try again out of love, not guilt. Life is no longer a tennis match, where if I mess up the first set I have to try hard to do better in the next two to ensure I win. Instead, I get to play a match that’s already been won on my behalf. If my shot is wrong, I play better the next time, with the Coach himself showing me how to do better. I never throw the towel in.
Oh the joy of finally being secure. I don’t need Aladdin’s magic carpet anymore; I've got solid rock under my feet.