When Holy Hurts

Though this post is written by way of a mothering example, I pray you’ll find it useful no matter your life stage.

First, context. My adorable, sweet, precious, yummy daughter (see: my Instagram feed) is practically perfect. However, she has one glaring flaw: she’s a bad sleeper.


I can’t even.

It’s not that she won’t sleep; once she’s down for the night she (usually) sleeps like a champ. It’s just that getting there can be a mighty struggle. She’s also not a massive fan of naps. If only she knew the glories of daytime sleeping! It was one of those nights. We had been working at sleep for a solid three hours. Nurse, rock, lay down, wake up, rinse, repeat. My back was aching from bouncing her up and down, my eyelids could barely stay open, and I was angry.

I was angry at Carson for not going to sleep.

I was angry at my husband, for his ability to have an evening “to himself” while I ran the bedtime marathon.

I was angry at my married friends who posted about their spontaneous date nights, free of cranky babies and spit-up accessorized blouses.

I was angry at God for taking away my old life.

Then I was heartbroken.


I was heartbroken over my own selfishness.

I was heartbroken thinking of my married friends who long for children so much it hurts.

I was heartbroken at how easily I fail at being a mother.

And then I was repentant.

Once Carson got to sleep, I curled up in bed and sobbed. I cried because it hurt. This refining, sanctifying process of learning to lay down my life for another hurts. I don’t mean that being holy hurts, but getting there can. On these rough nights I feel as if an anvil comes down, cracking my heart in two. Breaking me, but not to leave me.

I’m broken to be made whole again.

That is the Gospel.

We cannot. God can, and He did on our behalf through the life of active obedience and sacrificial death of His son Jesus Christ.

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” 

2 Corinthians 4:7-9 (ESV)

We are jacked up, cracked jars of clay. But it is through our imperfections that the perfection of Jesus is clearly seen. As clay passes through a fiery kiln to become a useful vessel, we too pass through a Refiner’s fire to become as God created us to be. Just like childbirth, the only way through is through. And, just like childbirth, the groaning will give way to rejoicing in the end.


  1. Catherine on June 30, 2014 at 10:53 am

    This is a beautiful post. I have quite an angry streak in me that only a few are so privileged to see. I want a family of my own. I don’t want to be so dependent on my Dad. I want my mom here. I want, I want, I want. How can God deny me?!

    I’m learning that God is better and that He is loving. When I read the scriptures I am enlightened and see God as he truly is and how I’m not the only Christian who has failed at being a good Christian. Become holy is tough, but there is a better life awaiting.

    • Victoria on June 30, 2014 at 7:02 pm

      Catherine I’m often so shocked at how angry my heart gets. It’s really scary how quickly we downgrade when we’re not abiding in Christ. Glad it resonated and, hopefully, pointed you closer to Jesus!

  2. Carla on June 30, 2014 at 1:56 pm

    Oh, my dear friend. My heart resonates with your words, because the nights you spend being broken with your beautiful little girl, I spend waiting for my own.
    No matter what process we’re going through, you’re absolutely right. Sanctification hurts. Sanctification feels like being ripped in half over and over again. And it is. It’s dying to self.
    And it’s beautiful.
    I walked past your window last night and saw the lights out. I pray every time I walk past your apartment at night that there is rest in your home. <3

    • Victoria on June 30, 2014 at 7:03 pm

      Carla my heart is about to burst with a comment like that. Thank you for your prayers. God bless you, friend Praying for you and your baby to be – in God’s good time.

  3. […] When Holy Hurts, a blog post […]

  4. Katie Chase on November 6, 2016 at 4:39 pm

    Exactly. All of it.
    It put me right back into it. I lived it exactly as you describe. Today, 6 years after the birth of my oldest, the pain of becoming holy is absolutely still there, although it has taken on a new face, new form, new circumstance. But one thing about the pain of becoming holy that I value SO much is that it signifies the deep love of God — that He so cares about the state of my heart that He bends down from heaven and engages with me. After all, He chastens those whom He loves. There are fewer more tangeable displays of the value and love that He places on us than when we feel that refining fire. Great post, Victoria!

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