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I'm not a mom. You've lived with me. The hardest years? Yes.
I'd say from birth to age 25. Why do you say that? I'm kidding. Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Ann Wilson. And I'm Dave Wilson, and you can find us at familylifetoday.com or on our Family Life app. This is Family Life Today.
You're the expert. I'm just the dad from birth to age three, or maybe four. Yeah, I think – Diapers, up at night.
For me personally – Nursing. It's just like such a change and a culture shock, yes. To get used to that and to kind of settle into that role of being a mom was hard. And you're exhausted. Like, our kids didn't sleep well. It was probably my fault. And I was exhausted all the time. I was disappointed in myself as a mom. I was disappointed in our marriage.
Go ahead. I was going to say you were disappointed in me. And I often heard, I got to live life because I'm at work and I'm having lunch with people. And you're like, when's the last time I had lunch with an adult?
Yeah. You thought my life was so easy. And I have talked to a lot of moms too, now that we have adult kids.
That's not an easy phase either because now we have no control. So why are we talking about this? Well, we're talking about this today because we have Liz Wan with us in the studio. Liz, welcome to Family Life Today. Hi. Thank you.
I'm excited to have you with us. You've written a book called The End of Me, which every mom that just heard that title, she's like, yes. Yeah, that's motherhood. Yes, The End of Me. And the subtitle is Finding Resurrection Life in the Daily Sacrifices of Motherhood.
And that really does kind of describe where we're going today. But Liz is a wife. She lives in Philly with her three kids. Yeah. How old are your kids? Nine, seven, and three.
Two boys and a daughter. Yep. Mm-hmm.
Nine, seven, three. So you've lived through and are living through what we just talked about. Exactly. Yep.
Is that what The End of Me is all about? Yes, it is. Yes. Especially the little years.
I've heard moms of teenagers can still relate. Yeah. So talk about when you became a mom, was it super hard? I mean, was it a surprise?
Yes, definitely. Even just the birth situation, I had all these ideas in my head of, like, my plans. Oh, you had your birth plan all in place.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I had no idea what would really happen. Did it not go the way you planned? And that did not go as planned, yeah. So it started with the reality of childbirth. Yes, that first.
Okay. Being like, oh, this isn't how I wanted it to be or what I imagined. I mean, I did have a slightly traumatic birth where it just went so, so long and pushing in the delivery for an hour and a half. So there was a little bit of trauma in there as well. My son had to be taken to the NICU.
So right off the bat, because that happened with me as well, you start out with trauma and you start out with fear. You haven't even met this baby. You're birthing them. And already I remember thinking, I love this baby already.
I haven't even met him and yet I'm so afraid for him already. Yeah, no. And that's traumatic as a mom. Yes, definitely.
Yeah. And then even, you know, with going home, I remember having feelings of this isn't what I expected either. You know, like, it's just constant crying in the middle of the night.
Even with feeding him, he still wouldn't go back to sleep. Like, this is not what I expected. This just constant nonstop, just like giving up of myself and laying myself down. And just, I even expected my feelings to be different. You know, my hormones just were out of whack and I had some depression and I did not expect that.
No one had warned me about that. So just really being surprised by that and just assuming like as a mother, you always have these warm, nurturing feelings, you know, and to just feel like the opposite of that just was very shocking to me. You even shared how it took you a while for feelings to really come. Didn't you say you felt a little bit numb even?
Yeah, a little disconnected. Like, I remember when he was in the NICU wanting to go to him, like this instinct of he's my child, I love him, I want to go to him. But even getting back home, just feeling a little disconnected, I had heard about when the baby comes out, like there's this instant bond that you feel. And I did have that with my other two, with the first, I think because of what happened with the labor and delivery, him being taken to the NICU, it just didn't really happen. So hearing stories like that, that was my expectation and then not to have that felt like something was wrong, maybe, you know, or wrong with me. Oh, I think that's it. Like you just nailed it.
You went into something's wrong, but maybe something's wrong with me. Do you think a lot of moms can face that? Oh, yeah, definitely. Like I'm a failure or I'm not a good enough mom. And so just realizing that's your hormones, you know, at least with that situation, you know, that's just your body and it's not all happiness all the time in parenting and motherhood, you know. Exactly. And it's really hard.
Yeah. So what did you do with that? That feeling of, you know, I feel a little detached, I feel something's wrong with me with baby number one. How did you deal? I mean, I just remember, you know, talking to people about it helped and not keeping it to myself and telling people like family and, you know, my husband and friends, like, this is how I feel.
I think that helped. And just even telling God, this is how I feel. I remember, you know, in the middle of the night, just feeling so spent and like rocking my son to sleep, but I would get out my phone and play hymns for him, but also for me and read my Bible on my phone. I just remember praying like, Lord, I'm just so needy. Never felt this needy before.
Like, please just help me and, you know, meet me here. You even say you weren't who you thought you were. You say, I wasn't who I thought I was.
And I remember having that exact same thought. Like, I'm way more impatient or I'm way more hard on myself than I thought that I would be thinking. I can't get this baby to go to sleep, especially today on any kind of social media platform. You're seeing every mother in the world has gotten her child to sleep through the night, you know, at two months old and yours is still up every two hours. You think, what is wrong with me? And so as moms, I think we can all go into this place. I remember thinking, I have never been so angry in my entire life.
I didn't think this was even inside of me. And so I would blame Dave for that, or I'd bring my kids for that, or I'd blame the circumstances for that. And yet I feel like God was trying to speak to me through some of those insecurities. Have you felt that? Oh, yeah, definitely. Yeah.
What did that look like for you when you say like, I don't even you didn't even recognize who you were? Yeah, I mean, patience is a big one. I talked to a lot of moms, they feel the same way. I was so surprised and impatient. I was and I used to think I'm in a very patient person or I don't really have an anger problem.
And then yeah, having children. I'm like, okay, I'm angry and impatient. And this is surprising how much it can be like that. You know, I totally relate to the feeling like this is not who I thought I was. And it just kind of comes out of you. That doesn't go away. You think, well, it's gonna go away in a week or maybe a day or at the most a couple weeks, but with a child.
And again, I'm just the dad here listening to two moms talk about it. But that's one of the hardest things about it, right? It just keeps then they doesn't sleep the next night and doesn't sleep the next night. How do you deal when it's it isn't a day or a week? It's months, right? Because yours went on for let's just say a while. It can be years. Yeah, because even after the sleeping stuff, then it's behavior issues as their toddlers and get older.
And then it's another thing that you can be impatient with. So yeah, when they start hitting each other and Yeah, well, I got to ask this. I got two moms sitting here. What do you say to the guys? What do you say to us husbands? What do we do?
How do we help? Oh, when we're sad and mad when we're watching our wives go through this because I watched and go through this. And she goes from my wife, who's amazing. And now and we're both thanks, honey.
No, to what? No to, you know, we're so excited to have our firstborn and it's like you what you just said, Liz. It's like, wow, this is a way we thought he ends up in NICU. It's traumatic.
Then when we do get him home, it's just hard and he's not sleeping. And so in some ways, and again, I can't say I'm speaking for every husband, but it's in some ways our wonderful life and wife went to I lost her. And she sort of lost herself because she's struggling apart from me.
And now we're struggling as new parents. And in some ways as a guy, I'm feeling like this is my fault. And I also am like, I don't know how to help. So what would you say?
I got two wives here, two moms. What would you say to us guys? How do we help? What do we do? I think the first thing is to listen. Yeah, is the most important thing is to draw your wife out and find out what's going on with her and just be a listening ear and saying, you know, I understand or I know that has to be hard and being open to the fact that there's different facets of her. And listening is the most important thing. So you're saying listening and probably not doing what I did, like, okay, problem solving. How about you do this? Or saying, how long do you think you'll be like this? I was just hoping for the new back to... You totally asked me that one time.
How long do you think you'll be like this? Did you have to bring it up? Yeah, so listen.
That's huge. And again, when you say listen, you mean listen. I mean, like, don't fix it. Don't solve it. Empathize. Say, man, that's hard. And then what? Is that it? And then ask questions and to understand more of what she's going through.
Yeah. I think, too, to be in it with us, not only in listening, but like serving. Like, what can I do? How can I help tonight? Do you want me to get dinner tonight?
Do you want me to pick up dinner tonight? It takes some of that burden off of us because I think we feel like as moms, we need to do everything. And as working moms go back to work, they're feeling like they're failing everyone. And so just to encourage them of saying, I see what you're doing. This has got to be really hard.
And then give her that space to just talk or to vent without the fixing part, I think is huge. Liz, I love that you use John 12. And that verse says, Truly, this is Jesus speaking, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone. But if it dies, it bears much fruit. What does that verse have to do with motherhood?
Yeah. At least in my experience, I think most moms experience, there's this daily dying that you feel like is happening. And that's like that grain of wheat going and being buried. And it does have this feeling of you're dying to yourself, you know, and you're putting yourself in the ground here. It's bearing fruit in the fact that you're going to Christ, and he's redeeming that. He's redeeming that death, and he's raising it up to new life in him.
And that could just look like different, you know, fruits, good fruit coming out. My children, I feel like even though I said I'm impatient, they've definitely, God has used them to build more patience in me. The death of that has produced good fruit in my heart, resurrection fruit. How long did it take for either one of you to say, I'm getting to the point where I'm getting that perspective? It's a journey to get to the place where you're able to say, like Ann said earlier, you get to a place where you find that Jesus is right here and he's developing me as a mom.
How long did it take to get there? I don't know if I can give a date as much of just saying, I can remember crying out to him and Liz, as I've been reading what you've written, you did the same thing. And I think that's a great space and a great place for every mom to get to where, Jesus, I can't do this. And I need you. And even in those times where you're nursing a baby in the middle of the night or you're feeding a child or up with a sick child, I know it's really easy now for moms just to be scrolling on their phones as you're feeding babies, but there's something about the stillness of the night or being alone, of connecting with God. For me, this became this incredibly holy time of me venting and telling Jesus all my fears, my hopes, my dreams, my disappointment in myself and my need for him. It became like a church service in the middle of the night. I don't think I could have done it without that, but it was that dying piece of me. I feel like I've lost the person I used to be.
And I think that there's a part of him that was saying, Ann, I have so much more for you because I love you and I'm changing you. And I felt like it was torture. And I called it the desert years. I mean, I'm in here in the desert, Jesus. And do you see me?
I'm all alone. I don't have any water. And he says, I am your water.
You know, I'll bring you springs of living water. Talk about that for you, because you went to a little bit like in the middle of the night, you would go there and you would play hymns. For me, the process was, you know, if this is how God is using motherhood to help me to die to myself, to die to sin and develop good fruit in me, I can either fight that or I can submit to it. So I think it was even realizing that I can submit to this and I can submit to the tool of sanctification through motherhood and how he's using it to work these things in me. And I think it was kind of an issue of do I fight it or do I submit to it?
How do you submit to it? What's that look like? Yeah, that's a good one. For me, it was more just seeing it, I think is the key to see, okay, I have an issue here. I'm impatient. You know, sometimes you just don't see it. You just kind of always reacting instead to stop and think and see it and then to bring it to the Lord and confess it to him and just say, I need help and just keep doing that. I've noticed that, I mean, I'm still impatient, but I have noticed some growth where I'm like, okay, I was a little more patient there than I was, I think, when I used to be a few years ago. So yeah, I think just seeing it, owning it and confessing it and asking for help.
It's interesting hearing you talk. It's like, I'm a dad, but it's the same thing. I mean, I have to come to the end of me, the title of your book, which is that death. But there's also something in all of us that says, I don't want to die.
That's the last thing. You know, it's like we're supposed to embrace our death. I don't want to.
And we're doing it as a sacrifice unto the Lord for our child. But how do you embrace that concept of getting to the end of me? I mean, it's a beautiful book title, but it's like, ah, no, no, no, no, no, anything but the end of me.
You know, maybe three quarters there, but I'm not going all the way to the end of me. But that's sort of the concept, right? That's what God wants and that's what motherhood did for you?
Yes. I think, again, to go back to what I was like or what I thought of myself before motherhood was I thought I was a pretty strong person. And I think as the years went on, I'm like, oh, okay, I'm kind of weak. I'm pretty weak. And I'm very, very human, you know, just to even not just be sin, but just that I'm human. Like, I'm limited.
I'm finite. I'm not God. I'm not all powerful. I'm not in control. I think I came to a head with that pretty early on, like just reckoning with my humanity of just like you even said, we want to do it all. We feel like we have to do it all, you know? And so just even realizing like I can't do it all and I need to lay it down and realize that that's not what I'm called to. I'm limited and finite. And to embrace that, I think coming to the end of myself was just embracing my humanity and my weakness and my need for the Lord.
And that actually is the place that he wants us to come to, that he's designed for us to be because that's how he made us to need him. That's beautiful. And I think I was fighting it for so long when I now understand, oh, that's one of the greatest gifts God gave me because I would have thought, hey, I'm a hard worker. I can get this. I can get this stuff done.
I'm going to nail this thing. And I came to the point that I thought I've got nothing. I've got nothing left.
I have nothing to offer. And I know that sounds like a bad place. But when I got to that place, that's when I said, but Jesus, you are all things and you're not surprised where I am and you can take this. It's kind of that death. I lay my life down before you like Romans 12, 1 and 2 as a living sacrifice. And it's that daily surrender that then something beautiful results of our dependence on him. And I've said that a lot of times with moms and dads too. They're such a self-sacrifice.
I think we moms, we never lay it down where men may be a little bit more compartmentalized with it, but we moms carry it continually. And so there's a beauty to being able to let Jesus carry it for us that lays down our will, our pride, all the arrogance. I had so much arrogance thinking I'm going to nail this thing. I'm going to be amazing.
Like I'm horrible. And so there's a beautiful part of that. Well, talk about this because you mentioned it quite often in your book, the idea of, and it was in the verse you shared, when you die, new life springs. So you talk about resurrection life of Christ being real to you as a mom, but it doesn't come until you get to the end of me. So talk about that. What's the hope in the resurrection life?
How's that function? You're listening to Dave and Anne Wilson with Liz Wan on Family Life Today. We're going to hear her response in just a minute, but first, as you can imagine, we've had to make some tough choices again this year, as many of us had. We're hoping that through the generosity of people just like you, we can continue to reach your home and all the homes that need help and hope for the relationships that matter most. Now, this is an especially unique and critical time of year to donate because we've had some friends of the ministry come alongside us and offer to double every donation we receive for 12 months, up to $300,000 when you become a monthly partner right now. Now that means if you give $25 a month, the impact is actually $50 a month. And on top of that, when you give this month as our thanks to you, we're going to send you a bundle of resources, including two specific books.
The first is Not Part of the Plan by Kristen Clark and Bethany Beale, and the second is A Lifelong Love by Gary Thomas. So become a monthly partner, have your gift doubled for a year, impact families for the glory of Jesus, and get a bundle of books. You could give right now at familylifetoday.com or by calling 1-800-358-6329. That's 1-800-F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. All right, now back to Dave and Anne with Liz Wan and how the hope of Christ's resurrection really is good news for our day-to-day lives. What's the hope in the resurrection life?
How's that function? Just looking to Him as your source and your strength. And Paul even talks about, and I use this verse a lot in the book, you know, to boast in your weaknesses. And just even doing that is that work of resurrection life in your heart, of coming to the place where you can even boast in your weaknesses. And not having all those plates spinning and thinking you've got it all going together, but realizing you can drop some of those plates and everything's going to be okay. And it's an act of humility, even, to say, I can't do it all and I can't have all those plates spinning and that's okay.
God's still in control. And it's humility. It's, you know, one of the greatest Christian virtues is humility.
So that's definitely the resurrection life in your heart. I'm thinking of all the moms listening, no matter how old your kids are, whether they're babies, whether they're teenagers, whether they're grown and gone. And I think we as moms carry this weight of wanting our kids to be happy, wanting them to know Jesus.
And we carry it all the time. I know even with my kids grown, I still wake up in the middle of the night worried like, Oh, what if this happens? I don't.
I know you don't. And I wake up and I pray for them, but there's something like, Oh, I would encourage you to know that Jesus loves you. He knows your kids. He sees you as a woman and he's wanting to walk beside you, love you, comfort you, encourage you. And I think the closer we draw to him, the more he changes us. And I think every mom needs to hear that because that's like you said, you both said it.
You guys never let go of your kids. It's a beautiful thing, but you need to know Jesus as you. That's David Ann Wilson with Liz Wan on Family Life Today. You can get her book, The End of Me at familylifetoday.com or by calling 1-800-358-6329.
That's 1-800-F as in family, L as in life and then the word today. If you know of anyone who needs to hear today's message, you could share it from wherever you get your podcasts. And while you're there, it really helped to get the word out about Family Life Today if you'd rate and review us. Now coming up tomorrow, David Ann will be talking again with Liz Wan about how sometimes when you're a new mom, all you want is a break and some rest, but how that can make you feel guilty for wanting to get away from your baby. That's coming up tomorrow. We hope you can join us. On behalf of David Ann Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a production of Family Life, a crew ministry, helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
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