Someone recently said to me, “If anyone would be great at homeschooling it would be you,” and I instantly thought, “This person doesn’t know me at all!” I am a disorganized, procrastinating, impatient, and prone-to-anger mess of a mom. In other words: I’m the worst candidate ever for successfully homeschooling my three–soon to be four–children.
Truly, my husband and I haven’t chosen to homeschool because I am naturally fit for the immense responsibility of educating our children, but rather we have felt led to homeschool our children by the Lord and therefore, I am going to trust that his perfecting hand is going to be at work in my life as I follow in obedience.
Motherhood in general has been like this for me. From the outside of our home one might assume that I am naturally inclined to “mother.” But in all sincerity, nothing about mothering my precious children has come naturally. Of course I’ve been filled with love for these precious babes of mine since the moment I learned of their existence, but as far as the practical, day in and day out requirements of sacrificially showing them love? I continually find myself begging the Lord for more grace to overcome my sinful and selfish tendencies–and that is on the good days! On the bad days, I’m ashamed to say, my flesh wins out with very little of a fight from me.
I didn’t think it would be this way. Before delivering my first little boy, I had grand, sepia toned visions of the type of mother I wanted to be: I’d excel in preparing healthy, well-balanced meals, I’d look forward to visits to the park, zoo, and pool, I’d never rush through the sacred bed-time routine, but rather, I’d sing lullabies as my babes drifted off into peaceful, easy slumbers. And then realmotherhood set in: my children all refuse to enjoy the same foods; the park is hot, the zoo is crowded, and the pool presents near death experiences with each new visit; and my children don’t naturally fall asleep until 10 p.m. no matter how many songs are sung or how many books are read. It turned out that motherhood was not all the magazine pictures promised it would be–it was hard work!
During my first few months as a mother, these realities came crashing in on me with full force. I can distinctly remember rolling out of bed for middle of the night feedings and immediately falling to my knees in prayer, asking the Lord to give me joy in this pivotal responsibility of motherhood. I’m not lying. Every night! Even now, I fight feelings of anger when our littlest one wakes up just moments after I’ve finally put my head on my pillow.
It takes great personal sacrifice to mother children, and sacrifice is not a virtue I am naturally endowed with. In other words: motherhood is not what I am naturally good at; it is what the Lord has called me to. How do I know he has called me to this form of sacrifice? He has given me children to care for.
Every daughter of God is given a unique set of circumstances in which his sanctifying hand is at work, tearing down the old woman and perfecting the new. For moms it is not difficult to see how our children are used by our loving Father to shape and mold us into the image of his Son. Every day we are given the opportunity to sacrifice our own passions, preferences, time, energy and desires for our families. We don’t have to look far or wait long for these opportunities of sacrifice to present themselves (usually they are waiting at the foot of my bed begging for chocolate milk at 6:30 a.m.).
And the good news is while I may not be naturally bent toward self-sacrifice, I have been united to One who is.
We are told in the Word of God to model our service to others after our great Savior Jesus Christ, who ”though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:6-8 ESV) This is the type of service I am called to render to my family: a daily and continual emptying of myself for their good.
Thankfully, Jesus is not simply my model for loving sacrifice. He is much more than a picture of virtue that I should attempt to conform to. Rather, our Savior is the power to overcome sin! It is because I am united to him through his substitutionary death on the cross, that I can be united to him in his resurrection and no longer live under the dominion of sin.
It is because of this union with Christ, in his death and resurrection, that Romans 6 can say, “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.” The salvation I’ve been given in Jesus means that I am now free to fight against my selfish, self-serving tendencies which make motherhood so difficult. I can strive to love my children more with each passing day because of the good news of the gospel as well as find grace and forgiveness when I fail.
And so, though motherhood is filled to the brim with trying responsibilities and difficulties, I can be grateful for each opportunity to die to my own desires because I know that “for those who love God all things work together for good.” How do these “opportunities” work together for my good? Paul goes on to explain in the same passage: “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (Romans 8:28-29 ESV) These opportunities to die to self are good, because they are conforming me to the image of Christ.
No, motherhood does not come naturally to me, but neither does any other form of self-sacrifice! Yet motherhood is exactly the means God has chosen to conform me to the image of his Son.Because I am united to Christ, I have been given a new nature, and motherhood is a tool in the hands of my heavenly Father which he is using to bring about my sanctification. For this reason I can joyfully accept the difficulties inherent in motherhood: because they were given to me by a good God for my ultimate and eternal good.
How precious this calling is, and how grateful I am for the many blessings inherent in being a mother–even the blessings cloaked in difficulty!
Thank you, Lord for the gift of motherhood.
“All things work together for good. This expression ‘work together’ refers to medicine. Several poisonous ingredients put together, being tempered by the skill of the apothecary, make a sovereign medicine, and work together for the good of the patient. So all God’s providences, being divinely tempered and sanctified, work together for the best of the saints. He who loves God and is called according to His purpose, may rest assured that every thing in the world shall be for his good.” -Thomas Watson, All Things for Good