When A New Year Doesn’t Fix A Broken Me

By Jessica Wolstenholm

January was perched at the end of a long year. I believed in her promises. She glistened just past the twinkling lights and crumpled up wrapping paper seemingly fresh and bright. I was tired and worn. Craving a renewed energy, I looked so forward to her arrival. Somehow simply turning the page to a new month, a new year was enough to put a bit of wind in my sails.

And now the dust has settled. The new is worn off. My fresh starts have quickly turned into second and third attempts. The fast pace of working and mothering causes me to fall right back into the slump of misplacing my priorities and just like that I’m once again on the hamster wheel of life. 

And I wonder, am I alone in the emptiness of missing the mark? The burden of missteps in disciplining weigh on my heart once more and I find that more often than not it’s that very same heaviness that causes me to say and do things that only add to my feelings of inadequacy in parenting.

On New Year’s Eve, our eight-year-old asked us inquisitively about whether or not we set “golds” or “revolutions.” We laughed at his attempt to use the right phrases, almost getting it right, yet making the intended words even more meaningful. His phrasing caused a stir in me that hasn’t left. I didn’t make the types of goals that most people do – like losing weight or eating healthier – both of which I could have claimed for myself. I made parenting goals that included being more present, more consistent, and just being better at all things related to mothering.

There are quiet thoughts buried deep in my heart about the kind of home I want to create and how I pray we raise our boys and I always feel as though I am missing the mark. Funny how when a little life enters the world, out rushes the doubt and fear about whether or not we are enough. It truly is the enemy’s ultimate attack on motherhood – placing little seeds of fear and doubt that surround a mother’s heart as it swells with the love God gives her for her children.

I’ve realized that what I had set as my goals and resolutions for parenting were not enough to fill a well of emptiness that comes with the daily to-do lists of life because they were stacked with unrealistic expectations dictated by the world around me and not characterized by the things that the Lord says matter. 

Since becoming a mother, I’ve clung to Lamentations 3:22-23.

22 The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease.
23 Great is his faithfulness. His mercies begin afresh each morning.

I’ve needed the reassurance of a never-ending love I don’t deserve and can’t earn. I’ve needed access to mercy and forgiveness that washes over me and reminds me that I am just a vessel, an instrument in the hands of God who calls me to teach my children His ways and guide them in His word. This is my calling and should be the foundation on build each day, but I will be honest and admit that it isn’t always where I begin.

Is this something that resonates with you? When I scour the Internet reading articles and blogs on parenting, I find so many parents feel the same way I do and I wonder if it’s always been this way? Did this fast pace of life always exist? Has fear and guilt continually ravaged the hearts of mothers? And do we all struggle with the emptiness of not measuring up no matter how many times we try?

Social media has given a voice to parents that generations before didn’t have and it has provided a place to share about the ups and downs of raising children. In moments of transparency, we often admit the struggle, the weaknesses, the failures in day to day life. It has become something the world nods to – this admittance that parenting is not an easy task. We bond and connect over our imperfections as parents, but I wish it didn’t stop there.

I wish we’d go a step further and finish the story. I wish we’d tell about how through the broken vessel, He pours out living water. Because in our weakness, He is made strong – even in our parenting!

We aren’t meant to shoulder the weight of not measuring up, but rather humbly admit our inadequacies and lay those missteps and weaknesses at the feet of our faithful God. Our role is to focus on His greatness and what He can do through us. This is a daily, sometimes moment by moment choice in the trenches of nurturing these little lives He’s given to us.

The most important role of parenting is not necessarily something we do for our children, but something we do ourselves in following steadfast after the heart of the Lord. If we can push through the noise of the world and prioritize our moments with Him, posturing our hearts on what He says about us, there we will find gold in the form of rest and renewal and we won’t need to work so hard to measure up anymore. We will come to know how He delights in us, even at our worst, He loves us right where we are and these truths take root in our hearts cultivating peaceful, joy-producing soil that lays a solid, faith-centered foundation for our home and our family.

So in this struggle of stops and starts of January, I’ve learned that relying on the flip of a calendar won’t bring about any sort of lasting change in my heart. A new year won’t fix a broken me, because I am not meant to be fixed, I am meant to be used. The pieces of me that are wrecked, shattered, and fragmented are the very ones He wants to use to guide my children and build our home. My only resolve is to be a willing vessel.