I remember a Family Circus cartoon: the mom is standing in the kitchen with a baby crying on her hip, a toddler pulling on her leg, and an older child asking her to sign a school paper. In the background, a pot is boiling over, the phone is ringing, and the laundry is spilling out onto her dirty floor. Even the dog is holding his dish, begging to be fed. The caption reads: “For this I went to college?”
I can relate; can you? In college, I prepared for the global work to which God had called me. After classes in Bible, global work, interpreting, and education, I was ready to serve God along with my husband. We dove into language study and eagerly started a church plant. God fulfilled another of our dreams with back-to-back children. We were thrilled! Then, reality started to hit. As Bible studies in our living room ran until midnight, I was in a bedroom with a screaming, tired baby. I took “maternity leave” from teaching Religion and Morality classes in the public school. Rather than counseling at Bible camp, I stayed home to nurse our baby and potty train our toddler—so my husband could be 100% involved with preaching and counseling.
I know what a “high and holy calling” it is to be a mother, but let me be honest: it is more thrilling to lead two girls to the Lord after a stirring message than to clean up spit or urine in another room and miss the whole service. Plus, at least for me, I am more confident and capable in ministry duties than in motherly ones. Need a Bible lesson? No problem. Infant fevers or feeding tips? I do not know what I am doing! I have a master’s degree, but this mothering job is hard. I should have gotten a Masters in Motherhood!!
One by one, I was unplugging (temporarily) from ministry duties so I could take care of my kids. As I let go of each involvement, I felt I was losing myself. My identity had been wrapped up in what I was doing for Christ. I somehow viewed “just being a mother” as the bottom of the totem pole, and suddenly there I was struggling with the “lowliest” job and disconnected from the work I still felt called to do. I was discouraged, confused, and spiraling into some dark days.
Thankfully, God used His Word, people, other books, and counsel to help me through. First, He showed me that who I am is not defined by what I do for Him. By no merit of my own, He created me, sent His Son to die for me, chose me, and saved me. My position as His beloved daughter is all because of Him. Basing my worth on how much I did for Him today is both erroneous and prideful.
Secondly, He is changing my perspective on motherhood. I used to see grocery shopping and cooking as a tedious hours-long project that gets demolished in 15 minutes. Now, I stand in the produce section and think of the health and life this food will give my kids so they can grow and become the people God wants them to be. Today, I was braiding my four-year-old’s hair. As we fetched a hairclip from her room, she suddenly started talking about heaven. A few minutes later, she was praying, asking Jesus to take her to heaven someday. I had to step out into the kitchen, sit on the floor, and cry. Motherhood is difficult and dirty and draining, but it is the greatest work ever!
As my children are growing, I am picking up ministry responsibilities again. How I pray for God to help me reach the precious souls He has placed around me, and, most importantly, those He has placed right under my roof.
Question to consider: How do you maintain perspective in the midst of the challenges of motherhood?