Okay, so I spent lots of posts on the value of a stay-at-home mom, the benefits of it and how you can help yourself get there. What I haven’t done is to give you a proof that mothering, in general, is good and of value, even without being a stay-at-home mom. It’s not like you’re really only a mom if you stay-at-home. It’s not like you don’t influence your children if you’re there 24/7. There’s no magic “well, I stay at home, so I bless my children” cutoff where 20 hours/day at home is good, but 19 hours day/is bad.
Kids are good. The Bible calls them blessings. But we live in a culture that emphasizes their costs – financially, emotionally, spiritually. Women are told to:
- Delay having kids til your career is established.
- Delay having kids til you’re done having fun.
- Have as few as you can.
- Get your body back into shape as soon as you can after delivery. All the better if you can have a c-section.
The implication is that kids will just bring you down, suck any and all fun out of your life, ruin your career and your body, so you should limit the number of kids you have, if you have any at all.
The problem is that no one is telling us nearly as loudly that:
- Children are blessings
- Godly families (including children) are one of the best ways to demonstrate the gospel to believers AND unbelievers
- Your fertility is declining. You can always have a career; you can’t always have a kid.
- Children are used by God quite often to help us grow spiritually.
- Raising godly offspring will have a huge impact on the future generations.
Whether you’re a stay-at-home mom, a work-from-home mom, or a work-at-a-job mom, being a mother is a great and glorious work, even though it’s hard at times. (Maybe even most of the time!) Even though it restricts your choices. Even though it costs money.
Why is it that we think children are bad simply because they cost money? A law degree costs money and no one says they’re bad. Same with a car or a house.
Why is it that we think children are undesirable because they are hard work at times? Learning to walk was hard, but we still did it. Learning long division was hard, but we conquered. We learned to communicate, we learned to swim, we learned to drive, we learned to be nurses and teachers and doctors, and all of that was good. Even when frustrating!
Don’t just accept what the world says about children and mothering. Mothers have a huge impact on this world. Think of the impact your own mother had on you. Good or bad, it’s hugely shaped who you are.
That said, we should have an accurate picture of motherhood. Motherhood is NOT the best thing in this world. At most, it’s tied with a bunch of other things – one of which would be fatherhood. It’s not higher than any other calling that God would put on us. At best, it’s tied with other things. Many women think that their life doesn’t begin til they have children. They wouldn’t say that, but it’s a subconcious thing in their head. (And I’ve been there, so any condemnation comes right back at me!) From what I’ve heard, raising children is probably one of the hardest things you’ll do in your life. But hard doesn’t mean that it’s not any higher of a calling than anything else God will call you to. You aren’t of less value to God because you aren’t a mother. You also aren’t of higher value to God because you’re a mother. But, through the ministry of motherhood, you have a fabulous and unique opportunity to shape current and future generations. Many women find it one of the most rewarding things they do. Many women find it very difficult and the rewarding moments few and far between. That doesn’t impact the value it has.
Example: The renowned pastor, Jonathan Edwards’ wife, Sarah didn’t have nearly as public ministry as her husband did, but let’s look at the legacy she left behind. Together, they had 3 sons and 8 daughters; she bore most of the load in raising them because of her husband’s schedule. Historians have researched over 400 of their descendents. Of those 400, they have:
- 14 college presidents
- 65 professors
- 100 ministers
- 100 lawyers and judges
- 60 doctors
- many authors and editors
Sarah could have chosen to just do her job (keep the kids alive and fed), but instead, she raised godly children who raised godly children who raised godly children, etc. They didn’t just have doctors, lawyers, and judges. They raised children who became godly parents who became godly parents. What an impact on the world she’s had! That could be your legacy someday! Pray for that to be your legacy!
Some Desiring God articles that I want to highlight:
Motherhood Is Application
Mothering is a job that is full of difficult moments. Diapers blow out in stores when you have too much in your cart to just walk out. Sudden carsickness can leave you pulled over on the side of the road wondering just how much can be done with half a bag of wet wipes. You need to take what you believe and apply it to these difficult moments. Does the Bible teach us that God is disgusted by our frailty? That he doesn’t want to carry our burdens? That he doesn’t have the energy to deal with us?
The good news is, you don’t need to have been through some elite mother’s training camp to apply the gospel in your life. You need to believe. Trust God, give thanks. Laugh. Believe — and that will feed your children. Rest in God, and your children will learn to. Extend God’s kindness to you, to them. Forgive them the way God forgave you. You have everything you need to spiritually nourish your children, because you have Christ.
Motherhood as a Mission Field
There are a number of ways in which mothers need to study their own roles, and begin to see them, not as boring and inconsequential, but as home, the headwaters of missions.
At the very heart of the gospel is sacrifice, and there is perhaps no occupation in the world so intrinsically sacrificial as motherhood. Motherhood is a wonderful opportunity to live the gospel. Jim Elliot famously said, “He is no fool who gives up that which he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” Motherhood provides you with an opportunity to lay down the things that you cannot keep on behalf of the people that you cannot lose. They are eternal souls, they are your children, they are your mission field.
Look at your children in faith, and see how many people will be ministered to by your ministering to them. How many people will your children know in their lives? How many grandchildren are represented in the faces around your table now?
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