The kettle whistled from on top the stove, and so I set my book down and exchanged my emptied coffee cup for a tea mug. As I made my way into the kitchen my eyes were drawn upwards towards the thumping that indicated the toddlers, who tantrumed their way to an early nap time, were once again out of bed. Sighing exhausted and defeated, I stirred some honey into a piping hot pool of Tazo Passion tea; today is going to be another day of lesson learning about obedience and discipline – and more for me than for them. So has it been the past week.
Not long (enough) ago I hit a low place in my mothering life. Overwhelmed by anger, frustration, despair, and complete exhaustion, one night I found myself looking horrified at the environment around me – an environment I had created; though more accurately I can see that it was an environment that I had failed to create, and was now reaping the product of careless cultivation. I knew that something needed to change. My children, my sweet, vibrant children, were suffering at the hands of a mother whose selfishness left them with little to glean life from. If they were pushing me to anger and resentment, it was because they were following the path I had put them into motion on. My husband, who has always been patient, loving, and gracious, was living with a wife who met him at the door with exasperation and petulance. I needed to change. I didn’t even realize how badly.
My lack of focus was robbing my life of joy, my children of their mother, my home of its keeper, my husband of his wife.
To change, however, meant to re-wire my brain. It meant to choose to see mothering not as a job to get through, or a temporary distraction from life’s real work, but to recognize it as my life’s central mission – second only to serving Jesus – though I would find that I could not fully do one without fully giving myself to the other simultaneously. I could not say that I was serving Jesus when I neglected the work He had given me to do, nor could I possibly succeed in becoming the kind of mother my daughters needed without laying down my life and finding all of my strength in Jesus.
Aided with the wisdom of mothers who have been-there-done-that, I began to dismantle the building blocks upon which I based my existence as a mother, and wife, and woman in general, and began to rearrange them. The effect has been immediate and life changing and it’s a wonder I survived the other way at all; though that’s truly all it was – survival, not thriving.
I have been transformed. It seems that it is a season of transformation. I never fully appreciated what was meant when I heard it said that the Lord was preparing us and transforming us until recently. I now realize that all the trials and tests, they are pruning for a season. This is that season. (Oh thank you, Jesus!)
I have begun to find my rhythm in the day to day with my children. I have begun to find peace that accompanies the knowledge that we are exactly where we are supposed to be doing exactly what we are supposed to be doing.
This mothering; it is holiness.
It is peace, it is grace; it is loveliness.
It is a mother who wakes up before her children so that she can fill her cup from The Father’s, because she knows that His grace is what will be required, and what is best.
It’s a mother who puts down her cell phone to explore the wonders of the back yard – connected only to little hands.
It is a mother who closes her laptop and joins in on rounds of Bah-Bah-Black Sheep and Away in a Manger.
It is a mother who chokes back careless words when a toddler has disobeyed again and chooses, instead, to speak life into these sweet little souls who have been entrusted into her hands.
It is a mother who carefully crafts beauty into her home so that her family will feel alive and loved by the sanctuary she has created for them.
It is a mother who invests in loving those around her, because she knows that practice makes perfect.
It is a mother who sits down at night with a glass of wine and the sweet love of friends in fellowship, because rest and caring for herself is essential to staying the course.
It is purposeful, and it all stems from obedience. Obedience to God over men, obedience to live in His presence and not the world’s, and obedience to humble myself and not only swallow, but discard my pride.
Obedience, obedience, obedience. It’s a word that is cringe inducing. It’s bitter to the taste because it implies sacrifice; sacrificing our will for someone else’s, sacrificing selfishness.
The world’s influence – it creeps. No God loving woman ever sits down and conscientiously decides one day to take the world’s path and forsake her Savior’s, or that Facebook is more important than the heritage of her children –it happens when we’re not vigilant. And it doesn’t happen on accident. There is a constant raging war for our homes and our families – for our souls. It is intentional; meant to break us apart from His will and each other, and take us out once we’re isolated.
In the bible women almost never existed alone. Their mothers or mother in law’s, sisters, aunts, cousins, and nursemaids did life with them constantly. A woman would consider raising a child on her own as a heavy burden to bear, and she knew the innate value of the silver crown her matriarch’s bore. She sat in the shade of her elders soaking up their wisdom while the sun shone on them as they worked side by side – day in and day out.
Now we live in a go-it-alone society where we are encouraged at almost every step to look out for ourselves first and foremost, and our elders are often scorned as being out of touch with the times, instead of looked to as an example. By deceiving us into thinking it is a desired accomplishment to be able to do life alone – without community or by our own strength – the focus shifts inwardly, to sustaining and elevating ourselves, and our energy and efforts follow in step. There is a sort of worldly pride found in being solitary in our own lives. Women more and more are being encouraged to secure their independence, not to be “tied down” by familial “obligations”; to make our own name, and to be self-reliant. Children are more often presented as a chore than a blessing, or something that we must deal with while we wait for them to turn 18 so that we can get back to our lives. We don’t want to think of ourselves as “just moms” (as if anyone could be just a mom!) because that implies we lack identity. Women are being urged not to make children their central focus; “You’ll spoil them” and “You’ll lose yourself!” are admonished.
And this is where the enemy finds his foothold and begins to filter in to plunder our heritage; our blessing. We diminish the vital investment that should be made in our children – the future generations of this world – content to leave it in someone else’s (or worse, their own) hands.
But when we have chosen our worldly rights over God’s blessing, and when we sow of the world, so then do we reap of it. Chaos, defiance, and selfishness abound.
When, however, we choose God’s way – when we accept the mission he has set before us – wholeheartedly, selflessly, intentionally investing ourselves into raising up our children as a heritage to the Lord, we will reap the sweet fruit of a house built on The Rock.
In the season of childhood mothering is consuming. In order to reach our children’s hearts for Him and to help them grow from saplings to strong Redwoods they require constant support, intentional guidance and direction, and it requires all of ourselves. But it is an honor! Mothering is not something done by default, it is a job of the highest calling; more important than scholastic education, more important than any financial gain; we are working for the souls of our children who will one day soon shape the world.
The time of sowing is upon me, and the labor is both heavy and continuous, but with my eyes fixed on an eternal reward it is a work I do with His song in my heart. I take the hands of likeminded mothers and mentors who have run their race, because there is strength found in fellowship and companionship, “and though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him – a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:12)
So I will endure the days of discipline and obedience, clinging to the hope of His promise for those who seek to train their children up in His ways.
So, fellow moms – take heart. What you’re doing matters, and the way you love and train your kids with your whole heart will have an eternal consequence. Stay the course, and one day your children will rise up and call you blessed, and you will rest in the peace of knowing that He will never leave them or forsake them – and that is the greatest blessing of all.
“All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children. In righteousness you shall be established; you shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear; and from terror, for it shall not come near you.” – Isaiah 54:13-14