It was one of those days where everything felt off. All day long I had been fighting just to finish one project (I don’t remember what it was… just that it was a normal task like sorting mail), and yet another mishap erupted with one of the kids. As I stood up (quite disgruntled) to go figure out the situation, I remember the words going through my mind,
“I did not sign up for this.”
Immediately on the tails of that thought came a waterfall of conviction. God, with a firm tap of his Shepherd’s staff, reminded me that when I said yes to motherhood, I was saying yes to everything that came along with it whether I knew it or not. I was saying yes not only to the snuggles, the coos, and the adorable antics, but to the spilled bowls of cereal, the toddler tantrums, and sleepless nights of teething. And I was saying yes to the many ways God wanted to use motherhood to reveal my own sin so that He could root it out of my heart and make me more like Him.
In that moment I had a choice to make. Either I could continue down the road to being a frustrated, joyless, grumbler of a mom, or I could choose to wholeheartedly, joyfully embrace all that comes with motherhood in the enabling grace of Jesus, and as the Apostle Paul said, “Toil for this, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.” (Colossians 1:29).
We’re constantly bombarded with messages, often glossed over with a “funny” coating, that children make life a chaotic string of miseries (just google ‘motherhood memes.’ You’ll know exactly what I’m talking about). I’ve heard pity in the voice of many-a-woman, whether it be a doctor or bank teller, when I tell them I’m a stay-at-home mom of four. “I could never do that,” has most often been the reply.
And believe me – I’ve been a mom long enough to understand why they would be saying that… if we’re looking at it from a temporal, fleshly perspective. If I’m going to spend day-in and day-out with my children with joy, it takes an eternal perspective – a renewed and ever-sanctified heart that can only come from God.
It’s not just because of my children that motherhood has difficult moments, but also (more often than not) because of my own self-centeredness. The crayon shavings and cracker crumbs and interrupted nights and fights over trinkets cause friction when they rub against my desire for ease, for quiet, for comfort, and just plain old having things my way. So really, before facing what I signed up for in motherhood, I first need to remember what I signed up for as a follower of Christ.
What did I say yes to when I said “Yes” to Jesus as my Lord and Savior?
I signed up for a life of obedience to my Creator and rightful Ruler. I signed up for a life of faith instead of trusting my own faulty reasoning. I signed up for having the Holy Spirit indwell me and enable me to live an otherwise impossible life. I signed up for surrender to the King of Kings, to be sanctified and smoothed and humbled and molded into a tool that is used for His glory. When I remember this, it affects every part of life including motherhood. I can so clearly see that He is using this strenuous-yet-rapturous lifework of raising children to ready me for eternity with Him. I don’t want to resist that in any way.
Yes, it’s a fight to keep an eternal perspective, and to choose to die to selfishness when my expectations aren’t met… when my energy tank is on “empty” and there are still many hours ahead to care for little hearts, minds, and bodies. But I’ve experienced God’s grace so deeply in these days of onsies and scattered legos. I’ve watched Him provide wisdom, patience, love, joy, and delight even during 3am wake-ups, after long days of training and cooking and mediating and comforting. And He is so gracious to convict me when I start buying (yet again) into the lie that I didn’t actually sign up for this. He reminds me that these children are an unimaginable gift – that they are worth losing sleep over, worth buying diapers for, worth cleaning up after, worth giving up my own desires for. Because when we sign up for the things that God says are worth signing up for, even if the world thinks we’re crazy, we will be grateful we did for all eternity.
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