I rose before the sun and made my coffee, desperate for time in God’s word before the day’s chaos erupted in my home. I was emotionally weary and physically exhausted, but was determined to start my day off with what I knew I needed most—time with the Lord. So I grabbed my Bible, pulled a cozy blanket onto my lap and, apparently, my cup of coffee as well. Life turned to slow motion as I helplessly watched my entire cup of much needed caffeine dump onto me, the carpet, the blanket, and everything else in its path. Tears immediately followed.
At times, despite our perfectly crafted Instagram post, this is the reality of motherhood. Interrupted plans, struggling to find time in the word with the constant demands of young children, comforting little ones when our own tears are one stubbed toe away from bursting into a full blown ugly cry, and learning to cling to the Lord’s strength in our unwelcomed sense of weakness.
One thing is certain: we aren’t alone in the struggles and joys of this motherhood journey. So sister, whatever age your children are, or however your current state of motherhood looks, I encourage to remember this:
Motherhood is an opportunity to walk in the sandals of Jesus
Washing the dirty feet of people who don’t recognize the sacrifices you’re making; being unappreciated or disrespected by the very ones you’re serving; trying to teach those who seem uninterested in hearing the amazing truth you’re offering; feeding hungry people who cry for junk food when you have food that will truly satisfy; pouring yourself out for those you love, despite their inability to give anything in return: does this sound familiar? Jesus experienced all of this and far more—to an extent that you and I will never fully experience.
Because of his sacrifice for us, sisters, as his followers, we have been given the privilege of being imitators (though imperfect ones) of Christ. We lay down our lives down for the precious children God has entrusted to us for a season—even when we feel unappreciated, worn out, and inadequate.
Recently I was sharing with my own mom about how hard it is to keep sacrificing and caring for my child who struggles with neurological and behavioral challenges, causing him to lash out physically and verbally, creating a tumultuous environment in our home.
“Everything in me,” I said, “feels like I’m being spit in the face by the very person I’m giving my own life for.”
She replied, “Sarah, you are being given a unique opportunity to experience a glimpse of what Christ suffered for you and to demonstrate gospel grace in countless ways every day to your family. Your persevering faith and trust in God’s good purposes is bringing him glory.”
What an encouragement her words were to my weary and discouraged heart.
Sister, however your current parenting season looks, we all experience times of feeling unappreciated, stretched beyond our capacity, and poured out for those we love. When we do, rather than running ourselves into the ground and struggling to see how anything good could ever come from our efforts, we need to look to Christ and remind ourselves that he knows what it’s like. He gave his life for you and me so we would not be left to our own resources. Not only will God be faithful to equip you for the task he has called you to as a mom, but he’s giving you an opportunity to know Christ in a deeper and richer way.
Motherhood is an opportunity to rely more fully on Jesus
Even though Jesus was God, he was also fully man. He experienced hunger, temptations, and exhaustion just like you and me. In Mark 7:24, he sought rest, only to be surrounded by those wanting his help and healing. In Mark 6:31-34, he tried to quietly slip away for time alone with the Lord, but was followed by the needy crowds. Yet despite the many interruptions to his attempts to rest, he knew the importance of being with his Father, the source of true rest, wisdom, strength, and peace.
It’s inevitable that our attempts at a quiet time will be thwarted from time to time and, for a season, we may need to get creative. But, in spite of these challenges, we have to make time in the word and prayer a priority, or our own resources will quickly run dry, leaving us with nothing to give. If Jesus, the Son of God, needed time with his Father, how much more do we? Rather than seeing this season as a temporary interruption to our self-reliance, this is our opportunity to learn to rely more fully on Christ and know the joy, freedom, and peace that comes from resting in his strength and wisdom rather than our own.
Motherhood is an opportunity to reflect Jesus
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5:1-3
When we wipe dirty feet, keep hungry (and often grumbling) children fed, strive to teach the truth to little ears that don’t always want to hear, and make sacrifices for the precious lives entrusted to us, we’re looking more like the image bearers of Jesus that we were created to be. Though we will fail our children often, and don’t always respond with patience, grace, and truth; we’ve been entrusted with the privilege of pointing our children to Christ as we show them sacrificial love. When we love our children even when they don’t deserve to be loved, we show them gospel love. When we extend grace to a child discouraged in their sin, we show them gospel grace. When we spill our coffee and miss our precious quiet time but we choose to lean more desperately on Christ, we show them gospel living.
The good news is, it’s not our perfect love and perfect parenting that will reflect Jesus to our children; it’s admitting our dependence on Christ’s perfect love and perfect life that points them to their own need for a Savior.
Motherhood is an opportunity to experience the grace of Jesus
Weary mom, if you missed your devotion time or you’re listening to a sermon in-between your child’s million random questions, or you’re carrying a verse in your pocket because your brain sometimes can’t remember your own name, remember he gives more grace.
In the midst of our chaos, God sees our tears over spilled coffee and stepping on ridiculously sharp legos. He sees us schlepping our children to school events, going to our third therapy session of the week, all while mentally searching our fridge for what we can throw together for dinner. He knows our desire to point our children to him, even when our words and lives fall short of the mother we want to be. He sees our heart’s longing for more of him, even when we sometimes struggle to consistently get the word into us during these crazy exhausting years. Though we will fail our children at times and never be the perfect mother we long to be, Jesus promises to take our imperfect offerings and multiply them for his eternal purposes.
Let your imperfections drive you to praise Christ for his perfect life sacrificed for you, let your weaknesses lead you to know more of his strength, and let your disrupted plans remind you that though “we plan our way, the Lord establishes our steps” (Prov. 16:9). Motherhood is one of the hardest jobs in the world, but it’s also one of the greatest ways we can learn to throw ourselves completely at the feet of Jesus—and teach our children to do the same.
Sarah Walton is a stay-at-home mom with four kids under eleven years of age. She is the author, along with Kristen Wetherell, of Hope When It Hurts: Biblical Reflections to Help You Grasp God’s Purpose in Your Suffering (The Good Book Company, April 2017). After more than a decade of trials and learning to walk with Christ as her family navigates Lyme Disease, special needs, and many other challenges, she shares how the gospel speaks into all areas of our lives and gives hope to our suffering. She blogs at Setapart.net and is a contributing writer at Desiringgod.org, Reviveourhearts.com, and Unlockingthebible.org.