Heeding God’s call in a time of darkness Print
Everyday Faith

Everyday Faith column by Julianne Nornberg

One winter four years ago, I hit bottom. I was a mother of four little ones close in age, and years of exhaustion and isolation were beating me.

With the constant care of my children controlling all of my thoughts and actions, I was becoming a shell, a shadow of my former self, and I needed help.

Crying and broken, I sat with my two youngest on the floor. In a blur, I remember seeing their questioning faces. They didn't know why I was crying, and I had no way to explain the huge void of sadness that was eating away at me from the inside.

God's solution

It was there in that moment of despair -- with me sitting on the floor in tears with my beautiful babies -- that God threw me a lifeline: "WRITE" is the word that suddenly filled my mind and heart. It was the same call I'd had a few days prior in Eucharistic Adoration. And, picking up a pen and my journal after so many years of motherhood, I did.

I wrote and wrote, my pen flying across the page in hurried letters that spilled from my hand, pent-up words I'd kept dormant for all those years of diaper-changing and feeding mouths and wiping noses.

I'd never taken the time to write anything all those years. I couldn't. There was simply no time, and I'd lost the sense of who I was by never expressing myself in the one way that defined me.

I'd always been a writer. But in becoming a mother -- which was the most precious gift I'd ever been given -- I'd let that part of myself slip away, never spending the time needed to retain my previous identity.

As a result, I slowly became an exhausted ghost of a mother consumed by sadness, and I needed to get out of its shadow for the sake of my family.

After I hit bottom, over time God worked through various people to help me learn the art of balance, the gift of prayer, the tools of putting a stop to detrimental thoughts.

Using God-given gifts

With His help, I began the journey to becoming a healthier mom for myself and for my family. And it had all begun with heeding the unavoidable call to "WRITE," to actively use my God-given gift.

Years later, as my children have grown older and I have employed ways to purposely have a more balanced life, I know there are other moms who have had similar experiences.

If you or someone you know has been overwhelmed by sadness, especially during these cold and dreary winter months, don't lose hope.

Motherhood -- and dedicating our lives in love to others -- is a profound gift. Yet, because our children depend so much on us especially in the beginning, it is easy to lose ourselves in an unhealthy way while trying to meet their needs.

Tips to help

To young mothers or anyone struggling with sadness, especially while caring for the needs of others, here are a few tips:

• Carve out 15 minutes a day for mental prayer and spiritual reading.

• Go to daily Mass whenever you can or spend a few minutes of prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament, even if you need to bring a fussy baby with you.

• Once a week or once a month, arrange for a babysitter and go out with your husband. Once our oldest child was old enough to watch the other children, my husband and I would go for a simple walk every Saturday morning.

• Work exercise into your weekly routine, even if it's just walking your baby in a stroller with a friend.

• Take time each day to do something you love (read a book, write in a journal, watch a show, call a friend, make a cup of tea).

• Remember that you do not have to be Super Mom. In order to best help your children, you need to take time for yourself as well.

As with all things, motherhood has its seasons. If you are currently in a dark time, know there is abundant hope and joy awaiting you in a later season.

Trust and follow

But you need to trust God, follow His call, and take actions that will help you find balance for you and your family.

Your little ones depend on you to help yourself, so you can continue to help them.

Julianne Nornberg, mother of four young children, is a member of St. John the Baptist Parish, Waunakee.