The weekends were the hardest. That’s what I remember most about my first year as a mother.
The weekends were the hardest because they were the same as every other day of the week, and they were not supposed to be. Weekends were for sleeping in and lingering over breakfast and taking long walks and reading long books. Weekends were supposed to be mine.
But Saturday morning, the baby was up just as early as ever. There was laundry to be done and the grocery shopping to catch up on and meals to be made so I would be ready for the week ahead. Sunday mornings were a rush of trying to get out the door on time and keeping the baby away on the drive home so she wouldn’t mess up her afternoon nap. There was housework and homework and hardly ever a real break.
I sincerely believed I deserved a real break.
I was pouting about this one day (pouting in a very reverent, mature way, of course) when my husband stopped me. I expected him to say something sympathetic or rub my feet, maybe both. He had done those things before. But not this time. This time, he looked at me and quoted the Book of Job. “Who are you, oh man?” he asked.
“Who are you? So what if your life is a little hard right now? So what if you don’t get to do the things you think you should be able to do? Most people don’t! This is what God has called you to for this short season of your life! Who are you to question God?”
It was a completely absurd thing to say to a woman who had just worked a fifty hour week and still had to get up at 5:30 am with the baby. It was an absurd thing to say to a woman who had to drop out of seminary in order to take a job as a nanny so she could support her husband’s education and still take care of their child.
But he was right.
I had allowed myself to feel like a victimized by God’s plan for me. I had allowed myself to believe that this was too hard. This was too much of a sacrifice. This was not what I was made to do.
I had thought perhaps that God had a higher purpose for me because He had gifted me in ways I felt sure could bring Him glory. I did not think I was serving God enough just by being a mom. I felt there must be a higher calling for me—surely!—than just the plain old ordinary stuff of earth.
In my heart, I cried out to God, “You gave me these gifts! Why won’t you let me use them?”
The answer came: “You have no higher calling than the work I have called you to do.”
It does not really matter what someone else gets to do for God. It does not matter who He sends to Africa or gets to use her gifts in glorious ways. It does not matter what God has asked you to do if it is not what He has asked me to do.
The most contented mothers I know are those who are secure in their calling and purpose before God. It does not matter what their gifts are, or even what their desires are. Because of the fact that He gave them children, they understand and embrace the reality that God has called them to the ministry of motherhood.
Sometimes, that means they can use their gifts every day. Sometimes, it means they must balance how to use their gifts and care for their children. But often, very often, it means a dying to self, of giving back to God what was given to them and trusting that it will still be there when these years are through.
Every single mother I have ever met is gifted beyond what is required of her in her home. She has talents that go unused, abilities that are not recognized, and even spiritual gifts that she does not have time to use in the church. How can it be that nearly half of the population wastes these treasures in order to raise children?
Because it is the work that God has called us to for this time and for His great purpose. The fact that we do not always get to use our gifts does not mean that there is nothing more to us than motherhood. It means that we are willing to set those aside in order to be obedient to what God has called us to now.
Does that mean that I cannot work outside the home or go to school or pursue my dreams? Of course not. I would never be so bold as to limit God’s will for any person. But I do know this—if you are a mother, you will never find a higher calling than to invest in the lives of your children and it may very well be that God is asking you to let Him guard your dreams while you do the work that is ripe for this moment.
It is hard.
It is hard because I forget that I am a slave. I know I am adopted and I am a daughter and bride of Christ. But still, fundamentally, I am a slave of Christ. My life is not my own. I have been bought—redeemed, yes, but bought nonetheless. My good and loving Master gives me the work He wants me to do. No matter what the task, great or small, I cannot glorify or please Him at all unless I do what He requires of me.
I must understand that whatever He asks me to do is His highest purpose for me! The work He has given me is my ministry to Him. It is my sacrifice of obedience. It is my highest calling.
Sometimes we miss what God has for us, not because we do not think big enough, but because we are not willing to bend low enough.
I am a slave. When I come to Him, seeking His will, it should be with hands outstretched, ready to do my Master’s will, even on the weekends. My prayers should be of openness and humility. “Please, show me what you would have for me to do today.”
It could very well be that your job today is to do the laundry and make the lunches. Be willing to accept that, and you will find great peace and contentment as you go about your work today.
Please join us tomorrow for Day 25: Boundaries
For further thought:
1) Read Luke 17:9-10. How should be think about recognition in regard to our work? How should we feel about doing the lowly things that come with our responsibilities as mothers?
2) If you find yourself frustrated with the daily and mundane aspects of motherhood, meditate on this verse. Hold it dear to your heart and consider that you are pleasing God the most by doing what He has asked of you. “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord, rather than for men knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.” Colossians 3:23-24
3) Perhaps you have gifts you have not been able to use for God. Why is it okay to give them back to God for this season? Can you trust Him to return them when the time is right, and give you opportunities to use them in the future?