In episode 70, we talked all about what defines us - motherhood, homemaking, work, something else? Whatever seems to consume our thoughts and motivates our striving, the ultimate source of hope and rest is in Jesus. We don't look at self, we don't look to others, we look at him. Here's what we mean...
I look down at my shoes, worn black Vans, and rub the dried formula off the toe. I hastily tuck my hair behind my ears and catch my baby girl smiling at me from the corner of my eye. I move to the stove to look down at the oatmeal I'm making for breakfast, stirring in raisins and obscene amounts of peanut butter to try to hold off the request for a snack for at least a couple hours.
There's this thing I've noticed when you become a mom, it happens abruptly beginning with the first night of the first babe, yet I'd be willing to bet that most moms don't even notice it happening. It's subtle, a common thread among all of motherhood - but one that would rather not be noticed, not be plucked out and put on display.
As moms, we spend most of our time looking down. We look down at the soup for supper, down at the toys our toddler left for us to trip over, down at our baby's gums, inspecting them for teeth. We look down to scrub the floors, to fill the bottles, to fix the broken scooter, to chop the food into tiny, bite-sized pieces. We look down to read the ingredients on the food packaging, the latest research on vaccines, and to check the boxes on progress reports at the doctor's office. We look down, because as moms, our life tends to run down below us.
Yet we also take this a step further and look down not only on things, but on people. We look down on other moms for the way they feed, diaper, sleep and discipline their babies. We look down on how they dress, how they talk and how they spend their time or money.
And at the same time, we find it pretty easy to look down on ourselves. To look down on how our day went, how dinner turned out or how we didn't get enough "me-time." We look down on our mothering skills, kicking ourselves for not doing enough intentional activities with our kids, or not keeping our home tidy enough, our temper long enough, or measuring up to those other mothers we just finished looking down on.
And lately, I've been feeling like I have a bit of a crick in my neck. Looking down at life and people and myself, my neck and shoulders and head all ache from the effort.
Momma, are you tired too? Is your neck bent and stiff from looking down?
Motherhood is good at weighing heavy on your shoulders. Turning you closed and inward, shuffling through all the questions, decisions, must-do's, should-do's, gotta-do's. There's a constant inward battle of acting like a self-sufficient know-it-all, while at the same time doubting our every move and feeling like one big, giant failure.
And that's because we're only looking down.
Look up and see the big, grand picture of motherhood. Look up and realize that motherhood isn't really about all those things you spend so much mental and physical energy on. It's not about finding the perfect Eat, Sleep, Play schedule, the magic bullet to keeping our nursing supply, raising a musical prodigy, or getting the perfect schooling solution.
Motherhood is about the gospel.
Look up and see the cross. Look up and find that the work you are doing matters eternally. Look up and remember that you are not raising a body, you are raising a soul. Look up and remember that it has all been done before and there is nothing new that you are struggling with. You are not alone.
Look up and see how small and insignificant those things that hold your head down really are. Look up and see how you are loved and treasured. Look up and show others the love and grace you have received. Look up and cling to the cross.
So today, turn your face from the ground to the sky. Get outside of your research, your need for answers, your desire to "get it all right." Stop the comparing, the judgement, the criticism and remember why we mother: To love our children and point them to Jesus.
Look up momma.
* This was originally posted on Oakland Avenue, October 2015