What every mom should (and shouldn’t) carry
By Pastor Heidi Reiszner
As mothers, we have an innate ability to care for and nurture everyone else in our worlds — except us. I think it’s a special gift that all mothers carry. We are always the last on our list to be tended to, and if/when we finally find time for ourselves, another voice in our family is often screaming for our attention.
Proverbs 22:28 tells us “Do not move the ancient boundary stone, set up by your forefathers.” Reading those words without its true context may not seem like a scripture for mothers, but allow me to explain.
In biblical times, large stones (or rocks) were used to create property lines on people’s land. Those stones represented where property lines would begin and end. If a thief wanted to steal their neighbor’s adjacent property, they would come during the night and move the boundary stones … a little bit at a time.
Over the course of a few days or even weeks, the owner’s property lines would shrink in size and their neighbor’s (the thief) property lines would increase. By moving the stones a little at a time, it was less noticeable to the owner that his land/property was being stolen.
In light of the true context of that verse, the enemy of our soul’s strategy is exactly the same. As mothers, if we don’t set some boundary stones in our own lives and know where those lines are, we allow the enemy to come and steal precious time and attention in caring for ourselves. When that happens, we are left with over-scheduled, stressed out, exhausted and joy-less lives of our own.
As a mother myself, I’m sad to say that I’ve learned this the hard way. I have been that mother with no boundary stones set at all in my life, all for the sake of caring for others. I’ve learned over 26 years of marriage and parenting that as a mother, I must make time for myself in order for me to be the best wife and mother that God desires me to be.
Here’s some specific ways you can reset those boundary stones in your life:
1. Set boundaries for yourself.
You must first establish self-boundaries before you can ever help to set boundaries within your family. Setting boundaries for yourself is not selfish! It’s simply taking ownership of your own life — recognizing what IS your job and what IS NOT your job.
Begin discovering what you ARE and are NOT to do and refuse to allow guilt to set in. Guilt is never from God.
Take time in your day for moments of solitude and reflection: to think, read, ponder or pray. Your entire family will benefit from those moments you take for yourself.
2. Set boundaries for your extended family and friends.
We are to be responsible TO other people; we are not responsible FOR other people. That revelation changed my life!
I was the master at taking responsibility for other people. I became so weighed down with their problems and circumstances, it almost crushed me to death.
God has never given us the responsibility to fix or carry what our family or friends are walking through. We are to “bear one another’s burdens” through prayer and encouragement but never to the point of our own husband’s or children’s detriment.
Many times, I was carrying burdens that God never expected me to carry. And because I was in the middle of their situation trying to fix it for them, those family members or friends began looking to me instead of looking to God for their help.
3. Setting boundaries for your children.
We live in a day and age where there are the most over-indulged, over-scheduled and driven generation of young people I’ve ever seen in my life! As mothers, we must learn how to say ‘no’ to our children.
Every time you say ‘yes’ to something, you’re saying ‘no’ to something else. It may be quality time with your family or just needed quiet time for yourself, but something or someone is going to suffer with every ‘yes’ you commit.
Your children don’t have to attend every party they are invited or play every sport offered.
It’s OK to say ‘no!’ In fact, it’s vital to the protection of your marriage and family life to say ‘no’— graciously and kindly — but learn to say ‘no.’
Don’t parent out of guilt. If you do, your answer to everything will be ‘yes.’ No one has the power to make you feel guilty! If they do, it simply means you’ve given them that power.
Mamas, reset those boundary stones in your life and in the lives of your family members. In doing so, you will see how peace, rest, grace and kindness can be restored to your life and the lives of the ones you love most!