All around me I see fellow moms who are struggling. I see stay-at-home moms who wonder if they would be contributing more to society if they worked and working moms who feel guilty because they spend so much time away from their kids. I see moms who are worried that their choices regarding discipline or schooling will ruin their children. I see moms who are so busy trying to get it all done that they skip opportunities for leisure with their kids.
Whatever the specifics, we all struggle. If we would believe—truly believe—the following truths, then we could eliminate much of this struggling.
Truths that will transform your parenting
1. God sees you
So much of mothering is mundane and unseen. No one is going to sing your praises publicly because you do these things. You may not even get a simple word of thanks from your husband or kids. However, God sees you. He sees the midnight feedings. He sees the endless diaper changes. He sees the scores of times you kiss boo-boos and offer comfort when your kids have been teased. He sees the hours you spend praying for them. He sees you teaching them the life skills of cooking, cleaning, and managing money.
This should encourage us and sober us. It should encourage us because we know that God sees even when others don’t. We don’t have to wonder if someone notices and appreciates all of our effort. God sees it and He appreciates it. It should sober us because we know that God sees it all. He sees when we lose patience and snap at our kids. He sees when we momentarily ignore them because we’re engrossed in social media. He sees when we overlook behaviors we really should address because we just don’t want to deal with it right now. I don’t mention this latter point to discourage you, but to highlight how much we need to ask for God’s wisdom and endurance (James 1:5, Philippians 4:13). He’s more than happy to give us these!
Take heart, mama, because God knows how hard you work.
2. The work of mothering is honorable
Wiping poopy bottoms and snotty noses doesn’t seem as righteous as writing a sermon, leading a Bible study, or translating the Bible. Likewise, those former tasks don’t seem as significant as performing surgery or naming newly discovered insects. Whenever you think along these lines, remember that things aren’t always what they seem.
The tasks of motherhood, however menial, messy, and repetitive they may be, are honorable. They are no less important than the work of pastors, missionaries, Bible translators, doctors, and scientists. God isn’t more pleased with these people than with mothers. His desire is for us to complete the work He has set before us and to do this work well (Colossians 3:23, 1 Peter 4:10-11). The most significant work set before those of us who have children is parenting. As parents, we care for human souls who were formed by God Himself (Psalm 139:13-14). He entrusted them to us to care for their practical needs, to prepare them for life, and to teach them His ways. Is there a greater honor than this?
Take heart, mama, because your work is honorable, righteous, and significant.
3. God’s grace is greater than your parenting mistakes
As parents, we have to make so many choices. Should I use cloth diapers or disposable diapers? Should I breastfeed or use formula? Should I spank Susie for drawing on the wall with permanent marker? Should I send my kids to public school or should I homeschool? Should I enroll my kids in sports? Should I let Johnny go to prom? Unfortunately, we will sometimes make wrong decisions. I don’t know about you, but I feel anxious about the impacts of my wrong choices.
Thankfully, God’s grace is greater than our parenting mistakes. We don’t make these choices outside of His knowledge or control. We don’t have to worry that our kids will be messed up because we enrolled them in preschool (or didn’t enroll them in preschool), believed in Santa Claus (or didn’t believe in Santa Claus), let them go to summer camp (or didn’t let them go), etc. You get the idea. God’s grace extends beyond these choices.
Of course, this isn’t a license to be careless and to do whatever we want. There are choices we make that are very consequential. If we don’t buckle our children into appropriate car seats, then they could be seriously injured (or even killed) in a car accident. Likewise, teenage children may be harmed if we allow them to attend parties where there will be alcohol and/or no parental supervision. Each time we face a choice, we need to use common sense, research the options, and prayerfully consider the best course of action. This will help us make wise choices. However, when we do make mistakes, it’ll be alright.
Take heart, mama, because God will carry out His purposes in your kids’ lives despite your mistakes.
4. You are changing the world from your living room
We complete many of the tasks of mothering for their immediate impacts. We change poopy diapers to get the mess off of our children’s bottoms. We do laundry so we can dress our families in clean clothes. We prepare food so we can fill our kids’ hungry tummies. We rarely consider how these tasks—and our approaches to completing these tasks—have an enduring impact.
We are diapering, bathing, dressing, feeding, disciplining, and teaching future politicians, teachers, firefighters, researchers, electricians, doctors, missionaries, journalists, carpenters, pastors, neighbors, and parents. Our kids are already impacting the world around them and their impact will increase considerably as they grow older, vote in elections, enter the workplace, and have families. We have the privilege and the responsibility of imparting the Word of God to them every day (Deuteronomy 6:6-9). We are able to shape their worldviews with our actions and words. We can teach them to pray and we can serve our communities as families. We can give them global perspectives. We can prepare them for the many battles they will face as adults.
The most effective way to teach all of these things isn’t by taking our kids to church on Sundays or sitting down for a family meeting each month. It’s by living out our faith. It’s by making sure our days are filled with activities like reading the Word, sharing God with others, praying, and worshipping.
Take heart, mama, because you’re changing the world.
5. Motherhood will make you more like Jesus if you’ll let it
I will never fully understand Christ’s experience of taking on our humanity and humbling Himself to death on the cross (Philippians 2:8). Thus far, the closest I’ve come to understanding this is motherhood. In a very literal sense, my physical body was broken for my children as I carried them in my womb and birthed them. I’ve found that to care for them and raise them well, I have to die to myself daily. Though all of this can’t compare to God’s sacrifice for us, my experiences as a mom have given me better understanding and appreciation of His sacrifice.
In recent years, I’ve experienced more spiritual growth from watching my kids than from anything I’ve heard in church. As I’ve watched them I’ve learned to look for Jesus in every situation, to accept God’s help, that God isn’t comparing us to one another, to embrace the present season, and so much more.
Are you simply surviving as a mom or are you humbling yourself before the Lord and asking for His help so you can thrive? If you do the latter, He’ll help you grow. Your children’s lives are like animate parables. He’ll open your eyes to the lessons they teach. He’ll provide strength when you are weak (2 Corinthians 12:9). He’ll give you peace when you’re anxious (Philippians 4:6-7). He’ll give you wisdom when you don’t know how to handle a situation (James 1:5). Not only will you be raising men and women who follow God and make positive differences in the world, but you’ll be growing and becoming more like Jesus in the process!
Take heart, mama, because God is using motherhood to refine you.
I considered adding an additional truth, which is that God works in the mess. As I began writing about this, I found myself repeating what I wrote in a previous post on that very topic. I’ll let you follow that link instead of addressing it here because I’ve written so much already. I’m glad you’ve taken the time to read through it because these are important truths and we need the encouragement!
I know that many dads struggle with concerns similar to those addressed here. I wrote this post for moms because I understand the experience of being a mom. I don’t know what it’s like to be a dad, but I believe these truths are just as relevant for them.
What additional truths have transformed your parenting? Please share these with us!