Women rarely hesitate to give advice. When I was a young mom, the last thing I wanted to hear was, “Just wait until they’re older. You’ll wish you could get these days back.” True or not, I didn’t want to hear how I might feel in the future. My feelings in the moment were all I could handle. I couldn’t fathom putting each moment in the context of years of parenting and concluding how everything would funnel together into that “someday.”
I’ve learned a lot from moms who are a step or two ahead of me, and one of my passions is hanging out with moms a step or two behind me. I love the encouragement we give each other. I enjoy doing life alongside others. But I still feel the same way about that “just wait until…” advice. My advice is slightly different.
Savor your emotions.
I’m not just talking about the emotions you find comforting and enjoyable. If we choose to only savor the moments that seem enjoyable, we miss out on a lot God wants us to experience. God gave us emotions to enhance our experiences. He is emotional—just read through Scripture! Since we’re created in his image, we’re emotional, too. We miss out when we don’t take the time to define emotions based on the purpose for which God gave them to us.
We feel angry and think it’s a bad thing, because we’ve experienced anger in negative ways. But anger is a gift to stand against the injustices of the world. Anger includes a pursuit of peace. We feel fear, and we sink into a quagmire. We feel fearful about things that don’t deserve to be feared. But fear provides warnings and provides opportunities for courage. We feel jealous, and we focus on what we don’t or can’t have. But godly jealousy is not of someone but for someone. God’s jealousy is zealousy.
The hundreds of women who told me “just wait until…” had good intentions, but the truth is I couldn’t instantly see myself years down the road and live in the future. And God doesn’t want me to. He wants me—and you—to experience the nows of every day. When you feel paralyzed or victimized by your emotions—about motherhood, marriage, work, ministry, or anything else—take a deep breath. Untwist the emotion and ask God to help you separate your reaction from how he wants you to fully experience whatever is going on.