Just two years ago my husband and I spent the majority of our free time involved in ministry in our inner-city community. We didn’t have children yet. My twenties were a time of striving to live a radical life of prayer, evangelism, and generosity. Then we went to India to adopt our daughter. During that time, we also became pregnant. In one year, God gave us two precious children. Our entry to parenthood was jarring and demanding as we navigated parenting our shell-shocked adopted daughter and learned to meet the needs of our newborn.
I emerged from the fog with the assumption I would jump back into ministry. However, as I reflected on years prior, an ache began to grow. At some point during the uncertainty of international adoption and the intensity of labor, my global perspective shrank. At some point during the all-night nursing sessions and hours of cradling my mourning preschooler, my passion for missions “out there” grew faint. At some point during the moments of joy and delight, I started to close my hands around my blessings.
The unthinkable happened: I had changed.
What do we do when it feels like motherhood has drained us of former passion and zeal? How do we understand ourselves when we see a changed woman in the mirror? What do we do with the grief we feel over the loss of a former version of ourselves? Does God see? Is he disappointed?
Perhaps these questions follow you like a shadow as you drive carpool or sweep crumbs off the floor or rush to a business meeting. Perhaps you are in a season of motherhood that has stretched and warped your identity. Perhaps you are re-emerging, unsure what your outside-of-the-home kingdom contributions could look like.
There’s good news, friend. Jesus speaks to the deepest places in our souls, and he has much to say about our identity and purpose.
God created us with unique personalities, gifts, and passions. He also ordained that we live in a given time and place. In light of the fall, our relationships with God, one another, and even ourselves is fractured. Our personalities and passions no longer line up with God’s design. As a result, our life’s purpose and our sense of identity are easily warped and muddled.
However, in his death and resurrection, Jesus earned us the right to be called daughters. Our identity is no longer subject to changing roles, achievements, or platitudes. We are children of the Most High King. Our highest purpose is to spend eternity enjoying, worshipping, and glorifying the Father.
This exquisite vision sheds light into the darkest corners of our self-doubt and confusion. We’re not made for our own glory. We’re not created to manufacture a version of ourselves that’s the perfect combination of Mom of the Year, affectionate and engaging wife, stellar homemaker, successful entrepreneur, and persevering missionary.
Through every shift in our lives, there are two constants: we’re God’s children made in hs image, and we’re made to glorify God. Sometimes this looks like seasons of energy and time to make obvious and overt kingdom contributions. Sometimes it looks like a seemingly endless cycle of feeding and sleeping and bathing kids—the less obvious contributions.
God speaks to us in the middle place, too. We can bring our grief and our disappointment to him because he is our “very present help in times of trouble.” When we look in the mirror and feel loss over aspects of ourselves that are dormant or even gone, we can run to Jesus. He sees and he knows. And he’s not disappointed.
In fact, God is working in this season for your good. Whether you’re swaddling a colicky infant or supporting a struggling child or launching young adults, God is using this as an opportunity to deepen your faith and sanctify your character.
God uses motherhood to teach us the truths of our identity in him. Because of Jesus’ sacrificial love, we’re women who belong. And our repeated sacrificial love for our families gives our children knowledge of their own belonging: to us, and to God.
So, sister, if you find yourself, like me, rubbing your eyes and wondering at the massive changes in your mind, body, soul, and home, take heart. Our true identity is this: we’re clay in the Potter’s hand and he is shaping us as his daughters, to walk in good works in every season.
Amelia Rana lives in Hamilton, Ontario (Canada) with her husband, Varun, and their two daughters, Mansi (5) and Zara (1). They serve their inner city neighbourhood through incarnational ministry with their MoveIn team. Amelia is a counselor and is passionate about working with families parenting kids from hard places. She blogs about the joys and challenges of being an intercultural family at ESLmarriage.com