I dare say that almost every Christian parent in the world has found it a little harder to keep a joyful spirit at home over the past year.

I don’t think joy-losing is a problem unique to a worldwide pandemic. It’s a struggle that every believer has to face because we live as redeemed children of God in a broken world that is hurting— that hurts us and our children. The joy that should naturally pour forth gets clogged up in the difficulties of life. 

The past year has shown me some things about the workings of my own heart as regards being a joyful Mom. Maybe you can relate. 

The unusual circumstances have highlighted specific factors of joy loss in my life. Normally these factors are more subtle, so I didn’t recognize them when life was “easier.” 

Here are three major areas God has pointed out to me— 

Loss of control

As moms, we manage a lot of things about family life. This is a totally normal, healthy part of parenting. Responsible moms manage menus, schedules, clothing, health issues, household supplies, and so on. Healthy, established routines are known to bring a sense of calm and satisfaction to our lives. 

So when I suddenly can’t get the groceries I normally buy on the day I normally buy them— when the kids have to spend all day at home trying to do school in a way they nor I ever have before— and I literally am not allowed to buy clothing in the stores for my growing child— and I have to accept a brand of toilet paper I don’t like— I am faced with the stark reality that I don’t have the control I thought I did. 

I like control and predictability. I like to plan and evaluate what I think is best for me and my family, then execute the plan. So I am realizing that I thought I had a lot of control over daily life, and that I found too much joy and satisfaction in that control. 

God used a bizarre year to show me how much a sense of control brought me a shallow joy. He asked me to have joy when I didn’t know what I was going to be able to buy and cook. When I didn’t know if we were going to be allowed to have Sunday services next week. When my personal goals and schedule had to be thrown out the window in order to serve my family and others spontaneously as the need arose.


The boiling water that has been poured over the “tea bag” of my heart this past year has also revealed that selfishness just oozes out of me. That control we were talking about above normally allows me to arrange life in a way that is comfortable for me, that revolves around my preferences and desires. 

I don’t just control things for the benefit of my family. Let’s face it: we mamas like to keep things as comfortable for ourselves as we can. 

And when things get uncomfortable, we often lose our joy.

Since the normal meal routines changed and there are people in the house all day, the kitchen is never clean. As soon as one meal is cleaned up, there are already hungry (or bored) tummies. 

My preferred alone time, or shopping schedule, or shower time, or food choice, or date night… all are threatened, and my response is crankiness. My self-centeredness is on full display through my lack of joy and contentedness. 

It doesn’t matter what I seek comfort or satisfaction in— if it’s centered around me and my preferences, it will never bring me lasting joy. This is what God has used this past year to show me.

It doesn’t matter what I seek comfort or satisfaction in— if it’s centered around me and my preferences, it will never bring me lasting joy.


I’m moving in a backwards sequence here. Self-centeredness is often the motivation behind clinging to control. If we take one more step inward, we see that cranky, joyless Mama doesn’t have victory over selfishness because she is feeding her flesh. 

I’m pretty sure there has never been a time in my life where it’s taken so much work and prayer to avoid feeding my flesh. 

I was convicted about this as I read the story of David and his sin with Bathsheba a few months ago. Before David ever gave into his flesh and committed adultery with Bathsheba, he gave into his flesh in other ways. 2 Samuel 11 emphasizes that David should have been off at war. But war is uncomfortable, right? Home is much more comfortable. We don’t know the exact personal struggles that David was going through when he shirked his duties as a king, but by giving into his flesh, he set himself up for giving into his flesh in other areas. 

The terrible cycle that David started by giving into his flesh can start in my own heart, too. Small decisions to please myself and hang onto control will lead to joylessness and further consequences

“Tell me the old, old story”

I know that on this side of heaven, I will always want to feed my flesh and grasp for comfort and control. 

This is nothing new. David wasn’t the first to struggle! And I certainly won’t be the last.

The good news is that eternal, unshakable joy is freely available to us through God in Christ. We need the same old story told to us again and again.

Do you know the old hymn by Katherine Hankey?

Tell me the old, old story of unseen things above,
Of Jesus and His glory, of Jesus and His love;
Tell me the story simply, as to a little child,
For I am weak and weary, and helpless and defiled. 

Tell me the story slowly, that I may take it in—
That wonderful redemption, God’s remedy for sin;
Tell me the story often, for I forget so soon,
The “early dew” of morning has passed away at noon.

Tell me the same old story, when you have cause to fear
That this world’s empty glory is costing me too dear;
And when the Lord’s bright glory is dawning on my soul,
Tell me the old, old story: “Christ Jesus makes thee whole.”

Nothing that I can grasp at for control or comfort will ever bring me lasting joy. It will only make me a crankier mama, grasping at this world’s glory. But when I rehearse the old, old story— MY story, YOUR story—  I’m reminded that Christ Jesus is the only one that can make me whole. 

And I run to Him for lasting joy.