"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved." Ephesians 1:3-6

Thursday, August 28, 2014

A Mother's Job Is Never Done

I shared this letter as a recommended post in the last My Mommy Minute post.  I was so happy I came across it and really enjoyed it.  In fact, I sent the link to my sister as soon as I finished and said "I plan to share this in a MMM but thought it was good and wanted to share right now."  I liked it.  I really did. 

But there was a part of it that I have been thinking about.  I thought of it when I shared it and now ten days later it is still floating in my brain so I'm going to jot some of my thoughts down. 

I loved how the author said that after a baby we will be different.  We will.  No doubt.  And all those ways she said we would be different I could relate to and agree with....except one.

She says:
 "You will learn to love fiercely and wildly without expectations, and for the first time in your whole life, your heart will default to selflessness—a part of you that always existed but was buried deep down inside—waiting for this moment, this change, this baby, this occasion to rise."
I know it's safe to say I'm not the only one that struggles with this.  Just because I experienced the miracle of childbirth both in my womb and through adoption, my heart doesn't always default to selflessness. 
Now,  know I'm not being nit picky with this.  And I am not trying to pick her post apart.  I'm trying to dig deeper and look at my heart and what I can do about what I have noticed.
I love my children. LOVE LOVE LOVE them.  But I also love myself a lot too much.
If there is one thing I have learned about motherhood it is sacrifice.  As a mom, we now have someone completely dependent upon us and who may need us at all hours of the night. And that is a high privilege.
I chose to have my children, both through birth and adoption.  I know children are a blessing. Yet laying my life down for them isn't always top on my list.  Of course I would say it is, and overall, yes it does unfold that way.  But I'm talking in those mundane moments.  Those middle of the night moments.  Those hot and sweaty hundred degree summer moments.  Those you just want some peace and quiet moments. Those moments.
I don't always want to get up at 2:30am to nurse my baby. 
I don't like to get up from the dinner table to get a cup of water.
I don't enjoy when I must stop making dinner to referee a sibling squabble.
I don't want to get out the crafts because I will have a mess to clean.
I'm tempted to overlook a sinful disobedience because I just don't feel like dealing with it. again.

When it is bedtime (or naptime) I like to do our routine and then it's done. Four kids in bed and now a couple hours to myself.  But when I huff my breath or roll of my eyes when I hear "Mommy....I need you" coming through the monitor, it shows my heart.

And all glory to God, that I can say that it's not like this 100% of the time.  But it is still some of the time.  And that, is too much of the time.

So how can we mamas handle this?  What does the Word of God say about this?

I am not perfect.  I am still a sinner in need of grace.  Daily.  I am being sanctified and maybe when my kids are all grown I will finally be selfless....but I doubt it.

Though I am not sinless, I must remember that I am a new creation. I have the Holy Spirit living in me and by His grace and power, I can choose to honor Him. In our human nature, we are selfish.  To be selfless and giving of ourselves is supernatural.  But as believers, we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing!

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him." (Eph 1:3-4)

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." (2 Cor 5:17)

"His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, through the knowledge of him who called to us his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire." (2 Peter 1:3)

We must escape the belief that is in the world because of the sinful desire of selfishness.  We do not "deserve" time to have to ourselves.  (So many thoughts on this, but I will refrain for now or this will get too long! And no, I'm not talking about extremes here!!) Just because I put hours on the clock of being a mommy doesn't mean I "earned" some time to check out of life and zone out on facebook. If I worked hard over preparing dinner but my children ask me to read them a story afterward, I need to escape the thinking that I don't need to lay down my life any more for them that day. Being a mom is now part of us.  Our identity is in Christ, but it is part of who we are.  It requires all of us all the time.

Our lives are not about us. Or even about our children.  It is about Him.

"and he died for all, that those who love might no longer live for themselves but for him who died for their sake and was raised." (2 Cor 5:15)

Our hearts wander and we forget that we are here to serve God.  Every fiber of our being is made for His glory. We get too focused on ourselves and our pleasure and start taking stock of how much we have given to our children and how much we haven't gotten in return. It is only because of Him that we have life and that we are entrusted with the lives of our children.

I'm not saying it is selfish to want a shower alone.  Or a chance to be able to paint your nails. Or look at your choice of social media. Or have a conversation with a friend. Or have quiet time in the Word. It's not selfish to not want my child to crawl all over me while I try to eat breakfast. But my reaction can be sinful and selfish. For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. (Luke 6:45)

It's about the heart. Let's focus on putting on selflessness by sacrificing and loving as Jesus did.
Though I cannot take the heavy sigh or the harsh tone I blurted out at my child, I can repent and ask their forgiveness and by God's grace and His work in our lives we will be made more into His likeness. And it will slowly be put off and rear its ugly head less and less. 

Maybe selflessness looks like this.  The putting aside our agendas and wants to serve our children.  To see them not as interruptions, but instead to have them come along side us.  One load of laundry may be all that was accomplished on my to do list because my three year old helped fold.  The silverware may be in the drawer upside down and backward because my two year old emptied the dishwasher.  When my one year old brings me a pair of her shoes to put on her again-because she loves them so-I will take the time to do it.  And when my teething baby needs extra cuddles and nursing that day, I will put aside the things I thought needed to be done and planned to do.  (please don't neglect your homes! That isn't what I'm saying!!) Stop and be present.  That is often what selflessness can look like as we serve our children.  And when we are present, we will find joy.  These are the moments that we will remember when we look back at raising our children. And what God intended for us to get done that day will get done.

Pray for joy.  Pray for generosity and sensitive conscience. Pray for a sacrificial heart that would find joy in laying down our lives and preferences for our children.  It is easy to think "well I'm the mom, so I get to have it my way..." But is that what is most glorifying to God? Is there anything that could even come close to the sacrifice that was made for us?
"Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 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." (Phil 2:3-8)

Pray as Jonathon Edwards used to pray: that God would "stamp eternity on my eyeballs."

Gloria Furman writes in her book practical application for mothers from Psalm 119:
 "I want to hope in God when my kids wake me up before my alarm.  I want to love God's word all day when I'm entrenched in the mundane work around my house.  I want to meditate on God's promises and praise him and remember him when I'm up with the baby at midnight and at 3am (and 10pm, 2am, and 5am during growth spurts).  According to Psalm 119, there is no time of the day or night when God's word is not relevant to our lives.  Even as we're more preoccupied with getting school lunches made and outfits chosen for family pictures, God's word can raise our gaze to the horizon of eternity." (page 54)
"I remember your name in the night, O Lord, and keep your law." (vs 55)
"At midnight I rise to praise you, because of your righteous rules." (vs 62)
"Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day." (vs 97)
"I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words." (vs 147)
"My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promise." (vs 148)

I came across another great GirlTalk blog post that referenced a book that I have read (and may I also add that he is a pastor in my church's association, past speaker at our church's conference and also lives in Holland, MI where I went to college....so I was very excited to see this reference from someone I have actually met!)

         "In his book, Womanly Dominion, Mr. Chanski brings us encouragement right where we need it:
“There she sits exhausted on the edge of her bed, her face in her hands, wondering, “Where’s the glory in this?”
She needs something more empowering to keep her going.
She needs to gain and maintain the deep conviction of the glory, honor, and nobility of selfless service. This she finds at the foot of the cross, looking up to the One who earned for Himself “the name which is above every name” (Philippians 2:9), by “emptying Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant” (2:7), humbling “Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (2:8). There she beholds her Savior who mopped up the damning vomit of her own sin with the precious sponge of His perfect life and atoning death. The love of Christ constrains and compels her to press on (2 Corinthians 5:14). The Spirit of Christ empowers her” (pp. 120-121, emphasis mine)."

Ladies, the glory is in the worship.  The nobility is in our sacrifice.  The honor is in the praise we bring our Savior. Our mothering is our act of worship. When we choose to see the million tasks our children require of us each day as opportunities to worship, we will find joy there. When we gaze our eyes upon the cross we can love.  So when you find yourself, as I sometimes do, lacking joy or feeling mundane and growing weary, take heart.  Refresh your mind with God's Word and remember that those little ordinary tasks that blend in day after day are meaningful to Him.  And He is the only one who sees your heart and the attitude we have while doing them. Work unto Him. To Him be the glory.

"We love only because he first loved us". (1 John 4:19)

And we must remember, His mercies are new every morning.  Every hour.  Every moment. Because we won't always worship.  We will whine.  We will fail.  But we will hide ourselves in the One who gives us rest and who's power is made perfect in our weakness.

"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  The Lord is my portion says my soul, therefore I will hope in him." (Lam 3:22-24)

"'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so the power of Christ may rest upon me." (2 Cor 12:9)

Jesus paid it all.  We are righteous in Christ and we are forgiven of sin.  Of our selfishness. We are forgiven and free.  Free to love and free to lay down our lives.  Free to let love reign and run this race to the finish line.

"For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Cor 5:21)

1 comment:

  1. If I had a My Mommy Minute on my blog... I would have added this one this week! Great job! Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing the truth of your heart. I would relate to so many of your examples (except for the "hot, sweaty, 100 degree moments ;)!!) and my thoughts are the same....what about me, and my time?? It's awful, its ugly, it's my heart's default. Thank you for pointing us to the cross, to the grace of God, to Jesus and His example of love, selflessness, patience, sacrifice time and time again. Too many good things to comment on...or this comment will be as long as your post! I am thankful for God putting these thoughts in your head and for you taking the time to put them down and share them. Keep writing! You are better than you believe you are! You are proclaiming God's great grace and His perfect example...and that is always worth posting about!