A few months ago, God lowered the hedge around my marriage and allowed Satan to test me.
I failed miserably.
I was deceived into thinking that my own husband was my enemy.
I became reactive, emotional, irrational, vindictive-- and many times just plain foolish.
Some lie, from somewhere, had convinced me that I could--and should-- give up on my husband and raise my children without him.
I filed for divorce.
As I fought my husband though, I evaluated my children.
I could lie to myself about how much I loved, needed, and missed my husband; but my children hadn't learned to lie to themselves yet. They openly, honestly, and purely missed their father, and it affected their spirits and their behavior. They became moody, disobedient, and all around difficult to handle. Sure, they had good days, but every day--good or bad--it was grossly apparent that their little lights had dimmed.
That truth, I couldn't shake so I decided to try my marriage again.
I cannot take the credit though, because were it up to me, pride would have caused me to fall. It was watching my children suffer and seeing the change in them that made me slow down, check myself, and think:
"Is my marriage really that bad?"
"Have I really given my husband my all?"
"Is divorce and single motherhood what I truly desire?"
"Will my sons be okay?"
"Can I, alone, make them men?"
"How in the world would we even co-parent anyway?"
"Do I want them to live with me? With him? Across the country? Down the street?"
"Do I really no longer want and love the man that God created for me when at one point he was all I prayed for?"
But I never would have held on or pushed through or even asked those questions were it not for the honesty of my babies. I would have just given up on my marriage like I had given up on all my relationships before. With that revelation I finally realize why God gave my 3 sons to me. For so long I have struggled to understand why parenting seemed to be so hard.
"Why would anyone sign up to do this? Aren't my children supposed to bring joy and added value to my life? Where is it?"
Those thoughts were also a test. Would I succumb to their seduction, or would I, instead, prevail? Would these thoughts overcome me; dominate my mind; and shape how I feel, think about, and interact with my own flesh and blood? Who, I've had to decide, will I choose to serve?
In the case of my marriage, when I chose my children; I chose God. When I humbled myself, and dedicated myself to serving and pleasing them, over my own selfish pride, I won my reward--my marriage--which I did truly want. I just had to get out of myself.
My children saved my marriage. Their honesty, and purity, and unashamed love and need for my husband forced me to accept those same vulnerabilities within myself.
I love my husband.
I want my husband.
And yes, I do need him and anything I tell myself in opposition is a lie.
I have lied to myself plenty, but my children want better for me, so they tell me the truth. They are God's greatest manifestation of the Holy Spirit in my life and if I had 1,000 tongues I couldn't praise them enough.
If you are on your mama-hood journey, and you don't exactly know why...look to your children.
The Holy Spirit of God is working through them to build you, to strengthen you, and to bring you clarity and peace.
Love them, and when it gets hard, do not provoke them to wrath but instead nurture them (Ephesians 6:4).
Nurture them when you are tired. Nurture them when you are angry. Nurture them when you are hurt. Nurture them when you are broken. Nurture them when you are scared. Nurture them when you are alone, and when you don't know what else to do--nurture them some more. Hold on to your babies and allow them to encourage you.
Knowing that whatever good thing any woman doeth, the same shall she receive of the Lord (Ephesians 6:8); I charge that you do not grow weary in well-doing. For in due season, if you faint not, you shall reap (Galatians 6:9).
I am a living witness.
SHAYLA BROWN is a 2010 graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi and an International Center for Traditional Childbearing (ICTC) Full Circle Certified Doula and is currently serving as a community Doula with South Phoenix Healthy Start. Shayla is also a wife and stay-at-home mother of 3 boys, an accredited practitioner for the Positive Parenting Program (Triple P), and the founder of Black Mama Magic.