The Mission of Motherhood – Chapter 1

“I always wanted to be a hero–to sacrifice my life in a big way one time–and yet, God has required my sacrifice to be thousands of days, over many years, with one more kiss, one more story, one more meal.” -Sally Clarkson

I’m pasting leaves to mason jars and flipping ‘fake’ grilled cheese sandwiches at noon.  The laundry is piled in the living room and there’s chicken poop on Alex’s feet.  The Legos, oh, the Legos – they’re in every inch of spare space in this house.  Have you ever stepped on a Lego…?  Every single one of my tupperware containers has Lego in it.  Not chopped fruit or leftovers, nope – Lego.

The map of Canada is peeling off the kitchen wall, our school binders and books are toppling over on the country hutch.  It’s a messy, beautiful life.

But it’s a quiet life.

Motherhood, I mean.

Not quiet, as in silent.  Now, that’s just plain suspicious around here.  Quiet, as in, no one really sees me.  I go about my daily life mostly, in silence from the outside world.  As with so many mothers who stay home with their children, it is a silent surrender of self.  

Can you relate, Mamas out there?

And it’s not to say we’re whining or we are not blessed and do not enjoy being with our children.  We do.  We cherish it.  But we can still cherish that which is unbearably hard some days.  When we are cleaning and cooking and cleaning again and cooking again, it feels like the whole world is one big domestic hamster wheel.

Then, it comes: “What do you do?”

Ah, the million dollar question.  Don’t we all, somewhere deep inside, want to have a fancy and impressive answer? What do I do?  Well… let me tell you all the amazing things I do and all the meaningful things I’ve accomplished in my life!  Or, the Christian version: Let me tell you all the amazing ways “God is using me/God has called me”.  (Come on, let’s be real…)

But, what if what we are called to do as Moms is incredibly simple?

What if what we are called to do in this season of life is raise a family.

I know, earth shattering, right?  But -only for the last 60 or so years.  Since we were, well, liberated.

Over the past few decades, haven’t women learned that being a Mom is not enough?  That choosing to stay home with our children and raise them wholeheartedly is not enough?  We are haunted with those pestering questions that imply: when will you get a real job?  You know, and contribute something to society.  As if serving our husbands and raising up human beings isn’t contributing something.

In chapter one of The Mission of Motherhood, Sally talks about her experience as a woman finding her way: “…I had been taught to embrace a very different model of woman-hood.  Friends and teachers encouraged me to do something ‘important’ with my life, which meant choosing a career and a type of work that would make the best ouse of my talents and personality.  I could marry and have children if I wanted, but not at the expense of ‘fulfilling my potential’.”

How many women, I wonder, have believed this same message?  I know I have.  But the truth is, as Sally later writes, embracing loving motherhood is fulfilling my potential.  If I’m blessed with children, God calls me to raise them with all my heart, as if unto the Lord.  If we believe what the Word of God says – children are a blessing.  If you have been blessed with children, you have a profound responsibility to raise them up.

Welcome to whole-hearted Motherhood. There is no ladder to climb our way to success.  Only a stool to stoop and wash the feet of our children.  To quietly serve our families.  To build strong and lasting relationships with our children and shepherd their hearts.  To invest in creating a family legacy and a spiritual richness to the home.  To humbly and genuinely raise up.

You know, to do the unseen.  To lay down our own desires for the needs of our children and families.  Maybe to pray that God might change our desires to His desires.  There is no higher calling then to serve.  Isn’t this Christ’s very message?  The complete upside down world-view?  Love God, love others – become a servant, just as He served- so shall we.  But it’s not easy.  It takes heart changes.  For me, it took a complete open-soul-surgery.  News Flash!  Life isn’t all about me anymore.  These babies are telling me so.

It took me a while to truly understand that this wasn’t a blip in life, this was a calling – a divine calling.  Children are not an interruption to my true purpose, the Lord’s purposes are accomplished as I walk faithfully as a Mom.

I love this:

“We mothers have the opportunity to influence eternity by building a spiritual legacy in the lives of our children… The real ability of a mother to secure such a spiritual legacy is based on the strength of her relationship with her child.” 

So, there’s no formula.  There is no checklist.  There are no “40 steps to great kids”.

It’s all about my relationship with my child.  I read this, I know this, I believe this, I’ve seen this.  And can I share something with you?  My ability to relate to my children in the way I desperately want hinges on my relationship with my Lord.  I’ve heard it said before – the strength of the Mother relies on the strength of the mother’s relationship with her Father.  Her Heavenly Father. Christ in me is the only way.  On my own, I fail.  But through His love, I can.  I can serve, and I can build these trusting, loving, authentic relationships.

I can respond in love.  True agape, deep love and tenderness to every situation.

Because some days, it really doesn’t feel like we doing anything earth shattering.

When they are babies, we rock and walk and wrap and nurse until all hours of the night.  We wake and watch and worry when they are sick.  We wipe noses and all those parts that always seem to need wiping.   We let go of what we might have wanted for what we know is needed.  As they grow we teach them, lead them, read to them, we go for nature walks and climb trees and teach them to ride a bike and visit chicken friends and chat late into the night.  We patiently embrace them when they are grouchy and trust that they will have grace when we’re grumpy.

In some seasons (and I know some of you are right smack in the middle of it) the days seem never-ending.  I remember all too well the counting of the minutes until my husband came home so I could pass the baby and the toddler and the preschooler and start trying to scrape something together for dinner.  I remember falling into bed exhausted only to be woken up within minutes.

Oh, it’s hard.  There’s no doubt, it’s hard.  But everything worthwhile in this precious and short life is hard.  And raising children?  It’s worth it.  There is no higher calling – and please, Mama, don’t forget it.

Be encouraged this week as you serve your family, you may feel invisible some days.  You may feel like your work is in vain.  Like there are no tangible results for your daily sacrifice, no matter how much you love your days or struggle through them.

God sees.  God the Father who is the ultimate example of a parent who loves unconditionally, served us with the sacrifice of death.  Who Tabernacles with us and Shepherds our very days.

Parenting is no ‘fast results’ calling.  It is counter-cultural in so many ways.  It requires the long haul, the long hours, the commitment to the straight-and-narrow.  It requires a deeper vision and a higher understanding of the briefness of this season.  Invest all we have in our children now, reap the rewards later.  Raise up children who love God, love others, and they too, by God’s grace, will serve their children, and we will watch the generations grow stronger and go deeper.

Build up our children and disciple them with our very souls.  Build those rock-solid relationships with them and be the example we want them to emulate.  Show them how to live, how to walk, how to trust in the very One who gives breath.

Commit to this calling of ‘Mom’ with everything in us, and honour the Lord, no matter what society says or sees.  After all, are we not here for an audience of One?

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