We met in church nursery – or at least that’s where we reconnected after a nearly two-decade hiatus. Eliza* and I had known each other as acquaintances in childhood, but when our family moved back to my hometown when I was nearing 30, Eliza and I recognized each other and struck up a real friendship. Our firstborn daughters, the only children both of us had at the time, were born just a day apart. The four of us began meeting several times per week for playdates. Eliza and her toddler would pick up me and mine, as we didn’t own a car at the time.
Eliza and I chatted about our birth stories, childhood nutrition, and the day-to-day struggles of motherhood. Breastfeeding? Of course. Potty training? Fair game. Our dire financial situation at the time? Absolutely not.
I never once told Eliza that our family was barely making ends meet – that our calendar held more month than money, that we didn’t know if we could even stretch the food in our fridge and our pantry to last through the next pay day. It wasn’t until we were beginning to exit our low-income season that I finally mustered up enough courage to share what we had been through with her.
To my complete surprise, she told me her family had struggled in a similar situation. But she, too, had not wanted to tell me. “Good” girls in the South didn’t use government aid, I had told myself, and if they did, they most surely didn’t tell others about it. So I had kept this secret to myself, and I had felt completely alone.
Years have passed, and now I realize that sharing our struggles is one of the ways we can find true camaraderie with other moms. And in sharing our stories, we can evoke empathy for those who might be experiencing the same as we are – even from those who may not be able to relate otherwise.
When I look back at our season of low-income living, I’m thankful for all God taught me – to trust Him for our daily bread, to cultivate contentment in both plenty and in want, and to practice gratitude for every single blessing. But one thing I regret is that I didn’t share my struggle with my best friend, and that keeping my trials quiet led Eliza not to share hers as well.
What about you, friend? Are you struggling with a burden right now? Is your family facing financial frustration, and you see no way out? Is your marriage stuck in neutral? Do your children fight more than get along? Do you feel alone?
My encouragement for you today is to find one friend – just one! – and share what you are going through. You might be surprised to discover that you are not alone, dear mama. There are others who can relate to this trial of yours, but holding it inside will only keep you from deepening those friendships that might prove a balm to your soul during a desperate time.
*Names have been changed in this article to protect my friend’s privacy.
This article was originally published in More Than Just Making It.
Erin Odom is the author of the new book More Than Just Making It and the founder of The Humbled Homemaker, a blog dedicated to grace-filled living designed to equip and encourage mothers in the trenches. Her Southern charm and wealth of inspirational, practical content has drawn an audience of millions over the years. Erin and her husband, Will, live in the South where they raise their four children. Follow Erin at thehumbledhomemaker.com.