Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Obliterating "Mommy-Martyr Syndrome" [From Running On Fumes to Living In Him]

As much as I try not to, I tend to "zone out" a little spiritually when I travel.  Getting out of our normal routine as a family almost always equates to little to no focused, intentional time with the Lord for me.

This is a bummer for lots of reasons.

I really felt the absence of my times with Him on this past trip to North Carolina.  I had a TON of fun, great times with family, and even had some really sweet moments of prayer in the midst of doing other things, or as I'd lie down to go to sleep at night.  

But I also found myself much more distracted than normal, less intentional about praying "leaning" prayers, and less aware and in tune with His nearness than I have been for the most part as of late.

The interesting thing was that I didn't noticeably feel the results of my lack of focus and intentionality with Him until toward the end of my trip.  I'll share with you my primary symptom.  Can anyone else out there identify with this?

It was "Mommy-Martyer Syndrome."  Oh, I HATE how this is what I "default" to when I'm short on intentional time with the Lord.  For me, "Mommy-Martyr Syndrome" begins with a few yucky internal conversations... like this:

"Yeah, sure, I'll just handle this whining kiddo all by myself while you walk off blissfully unaware that I could really use some HELP here..."  Or....

"No, I really don't mind doing ALL the work while you sit down and put your feet up."

Sound at all familiar?  The thing about these internal "mommy-martyr" conversations, is that when I take a step back mentally and look at the situation a little more objectively, my frustration is, most of the time, at least 80% unwarranted.  Stan probably did nothing, or very little, to "earn" my frustration toward him.  (And yes, it is almost ALWAYS directed toward him.)

While these internal conversations are happening, I am often somewhat aware of them and disappointed by the condition of my own heart.  I hate feeling like that inside... hate the absence of the fruit of the Spirit and a Kingdom atmosphere (righteousness, peace, and joy) in my heart in these moments. 

But in the moment I usually feel powerless to change.

The next step, after the yucky internal convos, is a more obvious irritability toward Stan.  I'm quieter, my responses to him might be short, and I tend to be noticeably bummed out.

So... by the time we were on the plane on Saturday evening, heading back to Kansas City, this was a pretty accurate picture of my condition.  I was irritable.  Short.  Easily stressed out.  Not lighthearted.  Stan felt the brunt of it... undeservingly, I might add.

It wasn't till I had a few minutes to think and pray during our first flight (somehow, miraculously, in the midst of all of Isaac's exhausted-2-year-old-stuck-in-car-seat-on-plane ridiculousness) that I realized: my shorter-than-normal fuse was a direct consequence of my lack of focused time with the Lord.  

I had stopped setting my heart before Him daily in such a way that He was resourcing me for every moment.  I had gradually crossed the line from living life in His strength, to dealing with life in my own strength.  

And I can only run on fumes for so long before I start taking it out on the one human being who lays his life down for me more than any other: my husband.  In those moments, I am subtly looking to him to fill a need in my heart that only the Father can fill.

Ugh.  I hate that I do that.  I hate how I am capable of hurting Stan's heart.  I hate the ugliness that comes out of my heart when I move into that "Mommy-Martyr" mode.  When I'm running on fumes instead of being supernaturally resourced and empowered by my ultimate Source.

So... I prayed.  I repented.  I shared my revelation with Stan, told him how I realized I had been running on empty and not being resourced by my Father and how my irritability had been a symptom of that.  

And I reached out and held Stan's hand, despite my [unreasonable] emotions to the contrary.  

And immediately, the ugly heaviness lifted off of me. My irritability toward Stan was replaced by a gracious, affectionate heart toward him.  I'm not kidding - the heart-change was instant.  

This was SO not something I could pull off in my own strength.  I had been powerless to "fix" myself on my own.  It was the grace of God, His kindness that leads to repentance (Romans 2:4), and the moment I repented for trying to walk on my own and intentionally, in my heart, leaned into Him again, trusting Him as my Source, the grace was there.  Everything I needed was there.  It's all found in dependence on Him.

Just a thought for you today, friends: What are your personal "symptoms" of trying to do life in your own strength?  Of not intentionally positioning your heart to be empowered and resourced by the Father?  Maybe you could ask God to lovingly highlight these things to you?  To lead your heart back to a place of leaning into Him, of tapping, by faith, into the grace for each moment that He's already put within you through His Spirit?

He is so, so committed to doing this for us, my friends... and to walking intimately with us as we trust Him to be our Everything.

By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.
2 Peter 1:3 (NLT)


  1. i so needed this today! it's so easy to remember that i get cranky without regular meals, but hard to remember that the same applies when i neglect the Living Bread!
    thanks for the reminder that He loves, and it honours Him when i love His presence. i've been on sleepy auto-pilot lately, and certainly haven't been delighting in Him. time for a heart-to-heart.

  2. Hi Janelle! Thanks for commenting... I'm so glad that God used this to meet you where you were at. Praying (really, right now) you have sweet moments with Him today and a rekindled fire in your heart.... :) Bless you!!

    1. hi dana. just wanted to let you know i've been praying for you, specifically that He will let you know He is there with you. take care.

    2. thanks so much, Janelle!! actually, the last couple of days He has given me inCREDIBLY profound evidence of His nearness to me...His intimate involvement in every detail of my life. totally appreciate your prayers, friend. hope you are doing really well.

  3. Been there, done that. I can so identify with this and believe it or not, I found myself thinking those same unholy thoughts the other day and my kids are grown up! Never connected it neglecting my relationship with the Lord since the most common occurrence for me is Sunday afternoons while making or cleaning up the lunch dishes and kitchen while dh puts his feet up and reads a good book or something like that. I'm sure I'll remember your blog the next time I'm tempted to let my thinking go that direction. Thanks, Dana

    1. Hey Marcy, so glad this was encouraging to you. Grace, grace to you my friend.


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