"You know what your problem is...you have too many children."
It was November 2015, and Laura and I had been home from China for just a few weeks. We were attempting church for the second time since becoming a family of seven. Although we were tired and emotionally drained from the addition of another small human in our life, overall we were well and life was good. We were happy to be back together and overjoyed to have our daughter home. Robert was parking our van while I checked the kids into their Sunday morning classes. As I juggled Laura on my hip and check-in slips in my other hand, I casually mentioned to my eldest, "Oh, man, I left my sweater in the car. I hope Daddy sees it." (Florida in November means it is still way too hot to wear a sweater in the car or outside but the inside of buildings are still arctic from the air conditioning.)
That's when I heard her. As I put name stickers on my children, she was watching and listening. She was the "helper" that day, assigned to help get families where they needed to be. "You know what your problem is?" she said to me. I looked up, surprised. She answered without my response: "You have too many children." I would like to say I had a quick, tart response. Or even a quick, kind response. But I didn't. I stood there for a second with my mouth hanging open. I was in church. And this was someone with whom I was vaguely acquainted. I am more than used to rude, inappropriate, or strange comments from people in the grocery store...but the location where I heard this comment and from whom it came caught me off guard.
It is scary how quickly these voices of attack or doubt or plain meanness can dig a place in my heart. Her words hit deeply. For me, the message I hear when I am feeling defeated or tired or lost is: "You are not enough. You will never be enough." It is the lie the enemy uses to paralyze me. It is the fear that causes me to make poor, cowardly decisions. They are the words that play through my mind after those days that all mommas have: when everything seems to be falling apart.
Flash forward seven months from that moment and we are heading to sailing camp. The boys are ready to go and I am feeling like super mom that I got them there on time, with sunscreen on, and snacks in their bags. Then I realize I forgot life jackets. Life jackets. Pretty crucial for sailing lessons. I tell their instructor I left them at home and in my head, the words play again: "You know what your problem is...you have too many children." ... "You are not enough." The lie is at work.
Flash forward to the insane month-of-moving when I have six children and a parakeet in one hotel room. The words play again, many, many times, as I work like crazy to hold everything together, I hear "...you have too many children." ... "You will never be enough."
Flash forward to this week. I am potty training three three year olds. Do I need to write any more words about this? That is a lot of potty training...and all the messes and gross that goes with it. "You know what your problem is...?"
My problem is obvious. It's not the number of children I have. The problem is, instead of letting that little comment roll off, instead of squashing the lie of not being enough, instead of listening to truth, I allowed myself to believe a lie.
Don't get me wrong, I don't think about the lie everyday. I don't think it even every week. I haven't been stewing on that comment for two years. BUT, when I am at my weakest, this same lie continues to resurface. I have allowed it a little place in my heart and it comes out when life gets a little painful.
It's time to replace the lie with truth. And here is the truth. The truth is every one of my children is absolutely precious to me. They are bright, curious, polite, funny, and loving. I am proud to be their mother. I can't imagine life without them. The truth is that even on the really hard days, there is always something that happens that I am so glad to be the one to witness. The truth is, if the Lord leads us, we will adopt another one some day. We don't have too many.
And here are some even bigger truths: I know that all children are a gift of the Lord (Psalm 127) and these sweet ones were set in this family by Him. I know that even at my weariest, the Lord gives me strength, patience, and peace that can only come from Him (Isaiah 40, Romans 5, Galations 5, Philippians 4). The truth is, I am not enough, but the Lord makes me enough by working through me. I know that He has great things in store for me and for my children and I eagerly await His instruction that I may see how He will work all things for His glory (Jeremiah 29, Romans 8, Ephesians 2).
I can't say that this internal fight won't rear its head again. But, I can say I believe I have armored myself against it by putting the Lord's truth in my mind and heart. I do believe this particular battle will get easier to fight as I continue to replace lies with truth and fear with faith.
It is so easy to listen to the voices of our culture and society. It is easy to get sucked into fear or anxiety. It is easy to stew on lies and meanness. But, those are not the voices we should be listening to for validation or instruction or guidance. We should be listening to the voice of Truth, reading the infallible Word, and when we need counsel, seeking it from someone else who is also committed to following the Lord. May I continue to fill myself with His truth that the lies of our enemy may have no power in my life.