faith statement (riffing on Barbara Brown Taylor)

Barbara Brown Taylor with The Work of the People (follow this link to see the clip Travis Reed / The Work of the People filmed with BBT capturing her reflections on pain & faith.)

Barbara Brown Taylor makes this faith statement: ‘…if I will trust that what comes to me is for me – that what comes to me in my life is for me and not against me.’ She says this in the context of her relative experience of pain, and I echo that in my own listening ears as another white woman who has not broken a bone or suffered deep trauma.

But this sticks with me. It reminds me of Richard Rohr’s statement (and book by the same name) ‘everything belongs.’ That is another variation of the same sort of faith.

Can I trust that what comes to me in my life is for me and my good, not against me? Do I see the various elements of my life as ‘belonging’ and having a valid place within my own unfolding story?

Motherhood came uninvited into my life. And I’ve spent many a night in the past couple of years doubting my fitness, crying at my own inadequacy and wondering if God got it right. My son’s tantrums, my daughter’s special needs, my lack of patience…all leading to an exhausted and frayed woman at the end of her rope. Was motherhood meant for me?

Just this weekend I had a moment – it was the middle of a normal Saturday as I swept a dead cricket out the door- and I felt a sense of maternal normalcy. My daughter happily sings around the house and inundates me with hugs. My son holds on to love notes from his lunch box and wants to watch National Geographic videos with me in bed. At dinner the night before Justin tells me the best part of his day is right now…’because we are all together and I feel loved by you and Emma.’ In that moment all these clips flashed before my eyes and I felt a wash of goodness. Maybe even mothering is for me.

The hard stuff does break your idols, as BBT mentions. Heck, it smashes them to pieces. Every tantrum shatters my notion of being the best disciplinarian, every outburst reveals I actually am ‘quick to anger’ and even requests to go to the park (accompanied with my inner dread) show how woeful I am at the simple pleasure of play. All these shards point to my own brokenness, to my own need.

And so I’ve reached out for help more as a mother than in any other role in my life. I’ve called for back-up when I felt overwhelmed, recruited a parenting coach to educate and motivate me, found other mothers to be with so I could learn what doesn’t come naturally to me. Motherhood has pushed me to break areas of isolation and independence and BBT is right, it has been for my health, it has been for me.

I share her wild faith statement… what comes to me is for me. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy!

NOTE: How lovely is BBT? I have never seen/heard her before and I find her to be so captivating. Favorite read: An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith. I also keep a few collections of her sermons by my reading chair for devotional reading with theological heft and poetic beauty.


Want to read more? Get new posts delivered straight to your inbox:

Tags: , , , ,

8 thoughts on “faith statement (riffing on Barbara Brown Taylor)”

  1. Tina/ @teenbug
     ·  Reply

    Mothering is *so* for you, my friend. This is beautiful.

    P.s. How come you don’t have a ‘Like’ button? 🙂

  2. Tina/ @teenbug
     ·  Reply

    P.S. She really is lovely. Wow.

    I’ve had ” An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith.” in my wishlist for a while now.

  3. d.l. mayfield
     ·  Reply

    oh my gosh, i was meant to read this just now. all alone in a new city, no family to fall back on any more, and the epic tantrums started today. i feel pretty freaked out. i guess now is the time to start asking for help, right? thanks for the encouragement that is your writing, your life.

    oh, and in a weird coincidence–my parents are good friends with travis reed!

  4. Diana Trautwein
     ·  Reply

    I saw that video and loved it. And I love this post, too. Yes, motherhood is ‘for’ you – and believe me, it breaks all of us. ALL of us. Your tender vulnerability here is lovely, Kelly. Thank you.

  5. Christiana
     ·  Reply

    I have felt the very same way, so often, Kelley, that ” hard stuff does break your idols” and “I’ve reached out for help more as a mother than in any other role in my life.” I’ve reached out for God more as a mother, discovering my own ugly failings. And I’ve asked for help from others, often knowing I can give them nothing in return except gratitude. Motherhood is so utterly humbling. I couldn’t survive it alone. Thanks for your post and for saying what many of us feel.

  6. J. R. Goudeau
     ·  Reply

    This is the kind of post I’m going to have come back to and savor. It was exactly what I’ve been needing this week. Thank you, Kelley, for writing this out so beautifully.

  7. Lauren Hansen
     ·  Reply

    So needed to read this! 6 months into motherhood and I already agree…
    “All these shards point to my own brokenness, to my own need.
    And so I’ve reached out for help more as a mother than in any other role in my life.”
    Motherhood will raise us up and bring us to our knees… sometimes both in a matter of moments. Thanks Kelley, as always, for your honesty and thanks for the intro to BBT.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


All content on this site is copyrighted by Kelley Nikondeha. Please do not copy work without permission. You are welcome to quote or reference my blog in your article, but please make sure you link back to the original post. Please do not post an article in full without permission, because that is a violation of intellectual property. (My African friends have a different sense of this, but being American, I can tell you it does matter to me!)

All writing on this site represents my own journey, my own wrestling, my own epiphanies. While I work with Communities of Hope, ideas shared here do not necessarily represent this organization.