“God knew that everyone needs
Someone to show the way, […]
that’s why God made mothers.” (K.N. Davis)
There is a side of motherhood that I wasn’t prepared to discover: the hard one. I’m not talking about the sleep-deprived, isolated, lonely, always-working side. I’m talking about the kind that wrestles with the mother’s mind and heart, questioning her value, calling, and worth. Do I really have what it takes to be a mother? Am I this inadequate, unprepared, and unfit mother I feel like right now? Would this child be better off with another mom?
When we feel these things, it’s helpful to remember the truth of God’s providence and all it implies: God really meant for you to be their mother.
1. God really meant for you to be their mother.
Motherhood, like marriage, was God’s idea first. With Eve as the first woman, God instituted the calling of motherhood as an active, worshipful, missional way of living. The biblical narrative in Genesis states clearly that before motherhood is about women or children, motherhood is about God. That’s why motherhood isn’t selective of a few women. Instead, as Gloria Furman wisely points out, “motherhood is a calling for all women. Every Christian woman is called to the spiritual motherhood of making disciples of all nations” (Missional Motherhood, p. 24). God’s design for all mothers (biological, adoptive, spiritual) is to make much of Him to the children entrusted to them. Their mission then, begins and ends with the gospel.
Therefore, God didn’t make a mistake when He made me a mother. Instead, God creatively called me to His mission through this time of motherhood to nurture, love, grow, teach, shape beautiful little humans unto Him. To turn their little faces and souls towards my Savior, to lead them to the cross, and to pray God will save them. In all this, God chose repetitive dailiness as the time and place to live out my calling. Therefore, there is nothing useless or wasteful in mothering through small, daily routines, like washing, cleaning, laundry, PB&Js, car-rides, school work, over and over again. God is not outside these moments. He’s in these very moments!
We often feel lonely, insecure, and overwhelmed in mothering because we forget by whose power in which we mother in the first place. The same One who instituted this missional field for moms also provided His Son as the “greatest missional home manager the world has ever seen” (Furman, 190). God gives us Jesus to live out motherhood in the gospel way. God gives every mother Jesus as her own Savior, Priest, Prophet, King, and Eternal Groom. There is no better place to mother than in the reality of the cross. No better way to do it than with Christ in us.
2. God really meant for you to be their mother.
I’m not my children’s mother by accident or man-made planning. If God instituted motherhood, then He also instituted mothers to help with it. Each mother is divinely chosen to give birth to, adopt, or mentor specific children. God planned me for my children before the foundation of the world! There’s some thought to dwell on! When we read Psalm 139, every feminine fiber of our beings imagines small babies being formed in our wombs by the hands of our sovereign Creator. But just like the baby is planned for my womb, my womb is planned for that baby. When we adopted our son Levi, we would often pray 1 Samuel 1:27, “I prayed for this boy.” But before we even thought of praying for him, even long before our very birth, the Bible teaches us that God chose me as Levi’s mother (Ephesians 1:4-6).
Against everything God made good, stands the devil and his dark powers. If he hissed doubts and lies at Eve’s thoughts and heart, he will do it to each and every faithful mother until Jesus returns. The devil stood against God and Jesus on the cross. The devil will stand against every Christ-centered mother, too. Am I really fit to be a mother? Did God really choose me to be their mother? His plan is not to make us undo motherhood, but rather for us to try to make it stand less on God and the gospel, and more on us and our own abilities. The devil’s scheme is to break mothers away from God’s good and sovereign plan for us in Christ, and separate us from the faith of the gospel and the power of the cross.
If I trust anyone with choices after a decade of parenting, that would be God and not me! He knows everything and is everywhere. He brings good. He loves and provides. He makes no mistakes. He rules the world and no one can dethrone Him. He is for us, not against us. He knows us perfectly and loves us still in Christ. I trust God with choosing me to mother my children more than I trust myself at any time.
3. God really meant for you to be their mother.
The call of motherhood has been entrusted to you personally, sovereignly, and directly. No other mother can be you to your children. That’s why unhealthy comparison with other moms, and judging your parenting by peeking over your shoulder into other families is not only foolish, but also robbing your children of God’s design of motherhood for them. Motherhood is not only God’s design for you as a mother, it is also God’s design for your children as recipients of your mothering.
When God chose Mary to parent Jesus, He chose Mary. Not her cousin, or neighbor, or aunt. Tied to God’s sovereign plan of motherhood for my 4 children is me—me surrendered to Jesus, as my pastor says. Me, the struggling Christian mom with fears and hopes, weaknesses and strengths, and a love that would move mountains for my babies.
The greatest description I ever received from my children on Mother’s Day was, “You are our mommy! We love you!” I mean a whole lot more to my children than my tired self allows me to see. I am their world—one that should bring them Jesus and the gospel even as they are loved and cared for daily.
4. God really meant for you to be their mother.
From the very beginning, God intimately tied motherhood to womanhood. Eve was the first woman, the first wife, and the first mother. Her identity, though, was being a person of God first and foremost. It was this relationship with God that the devil targeted in Eden. He knew that by getting at who Eve was at her core, he would get at everything else she was as a woman, wife, and mother.
To mother our children as if motherhood is our ultimate identity is to overstep God’s design for faithful women. Instead, we should receive motherhood for what it was created for—the calling and the context of living out our feminine roles for the sake of the gospel and the eternal good of our children. To the extent our womanhood is surrendered to Christ, our motherhood will be also. The best way to sanctify our mothering is to have our womanhood crucified with Christ as well. For a woman centered on the cross of Christ will build her wife-ing and mothering from the cross Godward.
But to lose sight of motherhood’s glorious calling is to trivialize God’s plan of creation. Edgar Allan Poe caught something of this uniquely majestic title bestowed on women alone when he wrote:
…The angels, whispering to one another,
Can find, among their burning terms of love,
None so devotional as that of “Mother” …
Motherhood may not define the essence and value of a woman, but it sure honors her with unprecedented, God-ordained renown among all other angelic creatures when her name is “mother”.
In motherhood, we have the up days and the down. The great news is that God’s providence does not depend on our feelings of adequacy. We can take comfort in the fact that all things are in His hands, and if that is so, God really meant for you to be their mother! The best way to speak to your hard in your journey of mothering is to apply yourself to the gospel truths outlined in the Bible.