Of Grace & Growth: The Path to Joy

By Sydney Dorr

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“Motherhood is a calling of power, authority and influence in the Kingdom of Heaven. What I do is not small or menial; it does not go unseen or unsung. Thankfulness remembers that God is working for my good and his glory.”

-Sydney Dorr


Paul says “Let joy be your continual feast.”(1 Thessalonians 5:16 TPT) To which I say “Actually, I’m good with stress-eating brownies at 9:00 pm, thanks.”  Motherhood is no joke. Most days it takes all I’ve got and then some, and after that I still have to do the dishes. Don’t get me wrong, I experience the beauty and delight, but often my days involve a lot of poop on the floor and a snarky 4-year-old.  A feast of joy sounds like a fairytale, so I settle for the brownies.

As much as I truly, deeply love stress eating, Jesus is showing me what it looks like to exchange my coping mechanisms for grace. I believe that he has a truer, deeper joy for me and that it comes through thankfulness.

Thankfulness is the Truth. When I am buried under grumpy kids and exhaustion and stuff everywhere, gratitude aligns me with Heaven’s reality. As I speak the truth about God’s character and deeds I gain his perspective. Motherhood is a calling of power, authority and influence in the Kingdom of Heaven. What I do is not small or menial; it does not go unseen or unsung. I am not alone in my frustration and pain. Thankfulness remembers that God is working for my good and his glory.

Thankfulness is a Weapon. Connected to truth, I can wield thanksgiving like a sword. When the forces of exhaustion, hopelessness, anger, grief and disappointment advance, motherhood becomes a battlefield. Gratitude is not defeated because it refuses to back down. It is light that pierces the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it. As the darkness is driven back, the light grows stronger, and more truth is revealed until peace returns.

Thankfulness is a Gateway. “You can pass into his open gates with a password of praise. Come right into his gates with thanksgiving.” (Psalm 100:4-5 TPT) Thanksgiving ushers me into the presence of Jesus, where there is fullness of joy. I don’t have to feel joyful to enter Jesus’ presence; I just have to realign myself to the truth of who he is. I don’t have to manufacture an emotion, pretending everything is fine when it’s not. I can come to him in my frustration, clinging grimly to thanksgiving, and in return he bestows his joy as a gift.

Motherhood is beautiful, but it requires all of you. It might be the high pile of laundry, deep sink of dishes and screaming kids. It might be sarcastic teenagers and broken curfews and sex talks. It might be incomparable grief for children lost. Perhaps deep longing for children you don’t yet have. Wherever you are in your mothering journey, it’s taking all you’ve got and joy may feel far off.

It is for those moments that Jesus invites us to give thanks. Not because thankful automatically equals happy; he doesn’t want us to dismiss or ignore our struggles. He knows that thanksgiving often hangs heavy in our hands, a weight on our lips. He invites us into thanksgiving because he also knows that it keeps us centered, rooted. It keeps us standing against the darkness. It keeps our hearts soft. It keeps us coming back to him to find refreshment in the truest, deepest, sweetest well of joy.

The next time that you find yourself fighting overwhelm, choose gratitude. Even if it’s a broken hallelujah, speak thanksgiving. Watch Jesus show up in your thankfulness with grace to lead you into joy.



Whitney Parnell1 Comment