This is a guest post by Dianne Jago.
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. Call them highlights, call them snapshots, call them what you will—we all know that 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. Yes, there are beautiful moments worth capturing in motherhood and no, we probably shouldn’t document those messy moments where our kids need us, but my point is that there is a problem when we allow these squares to set the standard for mothering well.
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. 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.
KNOWING CHRIST TRANSFORMS US
My husband has participated in some long distance target-shooting courses. There is calculation required to accurately zero in a rifle and accurately shoot a target. He literally cannot set his sights on two things at once. There is one target, one aim.
When our eyes are set on ourselves and on those around us (whether through the vein of social media or simply in-person encounters), we are taking our focus off of God. Jesus’ reminder in Matthew 6:24 is applicable:
"No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
Is our striving in motherhood flowing out of a relationship with Christ, or is it formed by earthly wisdom? Sometimes we just need that simple reminder that true joy doesn’t exist apart from Jesus. When we are communing with God through spiritual disciplines such as Bible reading and prayer, we are opening ourselves up to the transforming work of the Holy Spirit.
There was a point last year when I was really struggling with patience with my children. As we were singing a song about the fruit of the Spirit, “patience” was listed. It clicked. Patience is a fruit of the Spirit. It is not a fruit of myself. It is not a fruit offered by the world. It is Spirit-given and is born out of an active relationship with God. I cannot muster up love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control apart from God. I cannot lay down my life daily apart from grasping the truth of the Gospel, and its implications for my life.
KNOWING CHRIST TRANSFORMS OUR HOMES
"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” (Matthew 5:14)
About a year after my husband and I were married, we made one of our first “adult” purchases together. We said goodbye to our thrift store vacuum cleaner and bought a brand new Shark vacuum. My friend introduced me to the Shark vac when she brought it to my house and said, “Vacuum with this. After you do, you will never want your baby to crawl on the floor again without it.” I used it, and I was convinced. To this day I sing praises about Shark vacs and like to joke that I should just become a sales rep for them. That vacuum transformed my home, and as an overflow, it spilled out to others who purchased one.
When Christ transforms us, it will naturally transform our homes. The sweet Christlike aroma that flows from a mom whose first reaction to spilled milk isn’t an adult tantrum points to Christ. The way mom and dad love each other with 1 Corinthians 13 kind of love points to Christ. The humility that comes from asking our children for forgiveness when we mess up points to Christ. We can mom well because of Christ in us. And through our family, our home will serve as a beacon of light to an onlooking world.
KNOWING CHRIST TRANSFORMS THOSE AROUND US
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!” (Ecclesiastes 4:9–10)
Through Christ, we now can serve one another even from the trenches of motherhood. We know that our mission on earth is to glorify God, spread the good news of the Gospel, and to love our neighbors. God gives us our gifts, not for the glory of self or building up of self, but for the benefit of those around us. Instead of the empty cheers offered on social media—“Don’t give up, mama! You can do this!”—we have a living hope to provide other moms: a high priest who can sympathize with our weaknesses.ⁱ We have the power of prayer, a listening ear, gentle and loving correction, encouraging words to build up, verses to share, hymns to sing, hands to hold, prayers to pray, and laughter to share.
Dr. Michael Horton says it well: “Many of the things that mothers do in the home are not even measurable, much less stupendously satisfying on a daily basis. Much of it can be tedious, repetitive, and devoid of the intellectual stimulation found in adult company. In a myriad of ways, the daily calling of dying to self is felt more acutely by mothers. What they need is fewer guilt trips and expectations and more encouragement as they invest in ordinary tasks that yield long-term dividends.”
Yes, nap times don’t always line up. Yes, we are learning how to spend the little free time we have wisely. Yes, it’s inconvenient to pour ourselves out to others when our family already demands so much, but there is a bond forged in motherhood, laid atop the foundational bedrock we share in Christ, when we can be iron sharpening iron to another tired mama friend who needs us. It’s through this that the Church grows in unity. It’s through this that our gifts are used. And it’s through this that our God is glorified.
It is important to recognize what is informing our motherhood. Is it social media, or is it our great God? We must guard our hearts and minds if we want to navigate the highs and lows of parenting with joy. We must steep our hearts and minds in the Gospel to let its truth overflow into our actions. We need the abiding work of Jesus to sustain us as we seek to serve others with a spirit of patience and love. I say this again: if we want to mom well, we need to know Christ well. We are all in this together, so no matter where you find yourself in this walk with Christ, begin with small steps and trust him.
Dianne Jago is a military wife, mother of three, founder of Deeply Rooted Magazine, and part-time seminary student living in Central Pennsylvania. She has a passion for equipping women to become deeply rooted in Christ so that they can be a light in their homes and communities. Find out more about her at aholypursuit.net or deeplyrootedmag.com.
ⁱ Hebrews 4:15