Men like Winston Churchill and Thomas Edison attributed their earthly success to their mothers. On Mother's Day, humans collectively praise mothers and back it up with millions of overpriced cards.
Inherently, we believe the influence of a mother is powerful.
But that belief got sabotaged somewhere along the way and another belief sprang up alongside it: that motherhood is a peripheral, optional, after-thought of a job that falls behind the really important stuff. That belief has had devastating effects on our families and consequently, our society.
And even the most devoted of us find ourselves overwhelmed and often feel useless in the fray, lead by the cultural sirens of materialism and recognition, forgetting, really, what this mission is all about, if we don't keep in front of us the vision of the vocation God has given us.
Motherhood fulfills the commandment to love my neighbor.
An article by Jen Wilkin I read recently helped change my parenting paradigm. While I was looking for Scripture on parenting advice and coming up short, she reminded me that the Bible is largely about seeking the kingdom by loving our neighbors. My children are my closest neighbors, which makes the Bible full of parenting advice!
We have encouraged the notion that caring for, loving, helping, and teaching “other people” is important work, all the while minimizing the importance of caring for the people God has given us right in our home.
A culinary chef is praised for his artistic gift in the kitchen, and a school teacher is applauded for teaching other people's children, but a woman offering that same gift to her family is wasting her gifts. The difference, if you notice, is that one gets earthly recognition; the other does not.
“But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing...” (Matthew 6:3)
Motherhood is many things, but at its core, it is Kingdom-building.
Our purpose here on earth is to glorify God and fulfill His purposes. Even a cursory glance at Scripture reminds us that our life is found in serving, denying ourselves, and living for others. Nothing provides a better opportunity to model Christ's life in this way than a mother and wife, in her home, taking up her cross daily.
Frankly, much of our work is the repetitious bringing order out of chaos. It's not glamorous. But our contentment in the mundane speaks to those around us of our willingness to wash feet alongside our Savior.
I drove my oldest son to the work site where my husband is building a barn. There it stood magnificently, dwarfing all the houses around it. It was grand and perfect. I and everyone else who drives by can see where my husband’s hours, sweat, and stress have gone—there’s a fabulous building to evidence all his hard work.
I thought about that this morning as I picked fuzz, paper, and socks off the floor—again. In the privacy of my bathroom, no one sees how many times I put the towels back, empty the bathtub from water littles ones forgot to drain (and scrub the resulting residue), straighten things out of place—all just feeble attempts to avoid getting overrun by clutter.
Moms and wives at home feel frazzled. And often they feel resentful or alone. It’s little wonder why the feminist movement so easily persuaded them to leave home. We all crave evidence of our hard work. We want a grand building at the end of the day, to hear the oohs and ahhs. It’s human.
But according to God’s word, we are building something grand, and earthly accolades are not the prize.
“Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.” (Proverbs 14:1)
However, our building is a slower, less-noticeable process. We are building homes, which build people, which build legacies, which build the Kingdom. And the stamina to put our hearts, minds, and bodies to such a task must be fueled by a vision of what’s ahead. We must set our minds on things above, even in the midst of handling things here.
This work isn’t about the dust bunnies, the spills, and the constant striving for order from chaos. This work is about faithfulness, perseverance, and understanding that God’s plan for us is perfect, though life is not, and that we are HIS workmanship, created to build right here, for His glory.
Joy Comes in Dying to Self
I get frustrated over squabbles because it interferes with my plans. I should be more concerned with pointing my children to the Lord, showing them how sin infects us, and why we need to repent and trust Christ to help us crucify the flesh.
I get touchy and irritable because someone isn’t meeting my expectations or fulfilling my desires, when I should be humbling myself, being willing to be simply an instrument of grace, sacrificing, not demanding my way. Because that’s how my Savior lived.
We live in a flesh-covered body in a flesh-craving world that aches to be petted and recognized and satisfied. But building like a wise woman requires me to lay aside my wants and expectations, and seek the will of the Father.
Philippians 2 cuts to my heart. Truly it is where joy is found! It urges us to “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility, consider others better than yourself.” And Christ is given to us for an example, that we should “let this mind be in us which was also in Christ Jesus.” He was God. Yet He made Himself the lowest, submitting to the Father even to the point of death.
That changes my perspective about my petty annoyances throughout the day.
Yes, you’re going to pick up many lonely shoes in your lifetime. And probably no one will ever know. But one day your grand work will be displayed, your legacy will stand, and the faithful will be rewarded.
This is not our home and the building we’re working on is not made from hands.
Motherhood Is Making Meaning from the Mundane
We believe our job hovers in the mundane for most of our days, and the mundane hasn’t been touted for its importance in our culture. But Jesus actually gave credence to it. So while we may choose it, consider it our Christian duty, most of us still view this job as feminists do: unimportant, because mundane isn’t spectacular.
That’s not how God sees our job. He has not called us to drudge through the mundane of life. From the first created marriage, He gave us the glorious task of taking dominion. And when Adam and Eve began that work, God told them it would be hard, tedious, but still glorious.
In our homes, we have the chance to take dominion precisely through the mundane.
That's not our nature, because we live in a world of instant gratification.
When you can microwave your food in 10 seconds, send a message to the other side of the world in 3, and purchase anything your heart desires with the click of a button, it's difficult to dig in to the things of life that take time, patience and years of perseverance.
But that's exactly what our work is. Like a garden, the front end involves much labor and tedious tending before we get to see the harvest. But faithfulness bears fruit and Paul reminds us that our labor is not in vain, and for that reason, we should be steadfast and abounding in the Lord's work.
The long and short of it is that we are missionaries and we must ascribe the same value to our own children as we do to others. If we see them as God sees them, our parenting will be bolstered with the mission of bringing them to Him, loving them as ourselves and embracing the reality that we must seek the Kingdom by serving these, our neighbors.