We changed diapers, made afterschool snacks, and ran errands. But did we finish anything that truly mattered?
I’m a mom, though I may not look like it to the world. My shopping cart holds no toddler, my arm totes no diaper bag, but my heart is full of love for two children I never met.
Some of you may look like a mom of two, when really you have three babies. Others have multiple children in heaven with only one visible babe on earth. And let’s not forget the ache of those struggling with infertility.
Our stories are different, but our arms seem emptier than we expected.
How do we thrive in a season of loss and grief this deep? Is it even possible?
In Psalm 13, David gives us a glimpse inside the heart of a believer facing suffering. His lament and subsequent praise remind us you can be wholly grieved and experience pure joy at the same time. When our joy is founded in Jesus and the gospel, we’re free to lament the deep losses of life with eyes fixed on him.
In the Bible, thriving often looks a lot like growing. It’s often painful to feel the changes and stretches within my heart as God sanctifies me through trials. But this is good news, because it means the Christian can grow and even thrive in any season or circumstance.
As I walk through this ongoing season of waiting and longing, with the grief that follows closely behind, my heart nestles into this beautiful truth: we can do nothing apart from Jesus.
It is only through abiding in Christ that we face each day with hope. Only through Christ are we able to rejoice with others as we feel our own sorrow. It’s impossible for us to respond to the woes of the world without being connected to the vine.
Let’s strive to abide in Jesus through any season of suffering through diligently studying his word, approaching his throne in prayer, and fellowshipping with our local church bodies.
He will meet you there.
One of the challenges of being a mom is that most days are spent doing things that don’t feel important. The tasks you accomplish are quickly undone—laundry, dishes, picking up toys. Whether your days are spent primarily in an office or at home (or in an office at home), every mom understands that motherhood can seem a bit like shoveling snow off your driveway during a snowstorm, and it often doesn’t feel like ministry.
So what is ministry, exactly?
One way to think about ministry is a person or agency through which image-bearing and disciple-making are accomplished within particular spaces.
In Genesis, we read that God planted a garden called Eden, and he placed Adam in the garden to work it and keep it. Adam and Eve were not commanded to work and keep the whole world; they were to work and keep the garden in which God had placed them.
If I could go back and give myself a pep talk while in the midst of raising babies, I would clap my hands and say with great enthusiasm, ‘You are doing real ministry right now! Real ministry is not only ahead of you when you do a podcast or complete an in-depth line-by-line Bible study on the Minor Prophets. I know it feels like a lot of wiping, but you are bearing God’s image and raising children to bear his image. You are promoting life and doing good work in the space God ordained for you. And it matters.’
So embrace the wiping. Embrace the chaos and the endless laundry. Don’t just embrace it, enjoy it.
Instead of lamenting the unwanted limitations that accompany being a mom of young children, focus on the hugs and the way their eyes light up when you pick them up from school. Sing the song for them again today, and read the same book tonight.
You have been given meaningful work to do. The God of creation has given you the ministry of bearing his image, making disciples, and tending your garden.
Mom friends—you’re doing it. You’re fulfilling the work of ministry God has planned for you! He’s given you a wonderful gift in your children, and though the days feel long and nights, even longer, this is precisely where he wants you. Right here with your kids.
You’re exactly where you should be.
We can’t foresee all that will happen, but we can anticipate our hearts—our struggles, anxieties, and fears—and proactively preach God’s Word to ourselves.
When you struggle with feeling depleted from lack of sleep, remember that God’s grace is sufficient for each moment, that he will give you what you need with every breath you take.
When you struggle with choosing motherhood over other things, remember that for everything there is a season, perfectly planned by God for the advance of his purposes in the world.
When you struggle with a sense of purpose in the routine, remember that motherhood is a calling from God, an important work of faith and labor of love that images Jesus Christ.
When you struggle with guilt over time in God’s word, know that the basis of your salvation isn’t dependent on this, but on Christ.
You and I can embrace our need for an all-sufficient, perfectly wise Lord and Savior in this unique season of motherhood.
We can praise God for a new grasp of what it means to cling to him—because we know that when we are weak, he is strong.
About eight years ago, our family hit a tough spot financially. I was weeks from delivering our third child when my husband came to me with the numbers; there was simply no more stretching an already stretched budget. We ended up on food stamps and Medicaid.
At first, my faith didn’t waver.
But then things went from bad to worse. As the weeks turned into months and the months to years, I found our financial woes hitting me in a place I’d never expected: motherhood.
To be a ‘good’ mother, culture tells us, you must feed your child organic, locally sourced food. To be a ‘good’ mother, it whispers, you must book a professional photo shoot for each new stage (as well buy new matching outfits.) To be a ‘good’ mother, we hear, you must have the perfectly accessorized nursery. And then as they grow older, to be a ‘good’ mother you must be able to pay for dance, music, and art lessons.
What I remember most about our lean years was the sense of helplessness and guilt I felt While my story may be a bit of an outlier, the desire to care for our children is a universal one.
‘Which of you,’ Jesus asks in Matthew, ‘if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone?’ The heart of every loving parent is to provide good things for our children. So when we’re financially unable to give them ‘bread’, it can strike us to our very core.
As a Father himself, God knows and understands the weight of your mother heart. He knows how desperately you long to give your children good gifts and how much you despair when you can’t.
In the midst of our financial struggles, in the midst of my feelings of helplessness, God was feeding us and carrying my children in his arms. But more than caring for my children, God was also caring for me.
As I led them, he was gently leading me. And part of what he was gently leading me to was the understanding that he never intended for me to care for my children alone.
While I don’t know what the future holds, I do know this: The Lord is my Shepherd and so I shall not want. And because the Lord is my Shepherd, my children won’t want either. He will feed his flock. He will carry the lambs in his arms.
He will gently lead those that are with young.
We all know that motherhood is so much more than social media showcases. It’s more than the bursts of laughter captured in a well-lit scene, houses that are never messy, walls that are never sticky, and hot steaming coffee that magically appears in bed next to a sleeping babe.
Some of the most genuine frames of motherhood are those you cannot capture. I’m talking about the early morning wake-up to hold up your daughter’s hair as she battles a stomach bug. Or the Holy Spirit-given fruit of patience budding in you as you break up sibling rivalry for the fifth time this week.
Social media is not wrong in and of itself, but for many, it may be the water needed to grow seeds of comparison, discontent, and envy. Today alone you probably learned where Sarah just traveled, and what an awesome mom Jane is for feeding her child steel cut oats and kale daily. With every scroll and every click we are depositing some knowledge into our brains, and what fills our minds will direct our thought life and actions.
Sometimes we just need that simple reminder that true joy doesn’t exist apart from Jesus.
The bottom line is this: forego the fairytale picture of mom-ing so many project through the screen, because this will not sustain you in the trenches of motherhood. If we want to mom well, we need to know Christ well, because it is He who has the power to transform us, our homes, and one another.