Continuing with my daughter’s book study on the Mission of Motherhood.
Welcome back, moms!
Today we are continuing with our book study on The Mission of Motherhood: Touching Your Child’s Heart for Eternity by Sally Clarkson. If you are joining us for the first time – I’m so glad you’re here! I need to be completely honest with you.
I came to my computer to write this week’s post with a heavy heart.
The topic of a mother’s divided heart has divided mothers amongst themselves most grievously and I have no desire to do that here on my blog. I’ve heard the advice that’s out there – Please, put down the stones! We moms need to stick together and stop tearing each other down! Every mom needs to follow her own heart and make the decision that’s right for her family! We shouldn’t say anything about how another mom wants to run her life. We need to be lovers, not haters!
Yes, it’s true that we moms need to love each other. But within the context of love, I believe that there is a place for heart-to-heart discussion about these things.
I realize that most moms I know, whether they go to work or stay at home, have a great concern and love for their children. Most of them are doing what they really believe is best for them. And yet, I feel strongly, as Sally does, that home-centered, traditional motherhood deserves to be a serious part of the discussion when we talk about the issues at stake in our children’s lives.
I can’t count the number of times that another mom has said to me, on finding out that I stay home:
Oh, you’re so lucky! I wish I could stay home! But, unfortunately, I have to work.
However, staying at home with my children is not solely about my own pleasures – believe me. (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stood and gazed wistfully over into the greener pastures of going to work every day while someone else takes care of the messes and crying and bickering and stress.) Staying home is about much more than being present for each of my baby’s “firsts”.
It is a decision that I have made because I feel that my responsibility as a mother commands my primary attention and calls for an intentional commitment.
I feel that mothering cannot just be something that’s tucked in around the edges of my “real” life, as Sally describes it. And yet, even as I write these words, I fear that they will sting, and that is the last thing I would ever want to do to a friend.
I weep over the position that society places us in as women.
On one hand, we modern women appear to enjoy so many freedoms, don’t we? We can vote, we are generally more educated than our grandmothers were and we have access to many of the same professions and salaries as men.
But on the other hand, we are expected to do it “ALL”.
We’re told lies all the live-long day about what we must do to find happiness and fulfillment:
If only you:
- Complete a high level of education
- Find the perfect career
- Achieve success in said career
- Spend enough “quality time” with your children
- Provide those children with everything they need (from the color-coordinated nursery to the iPad) and enriching and full lives of activity besides
- Prepare or purchase delicious food for your family (because we all know about the dangers that lurk in our modern food!)
- Wear clothes that befit a modern woman and keep our bodies lookin’ good enough to post pictures of ourselves on Facebook
- Oh yes, and keep your man happy too, by being exciting and spontaneous!
We are pushed and pushed and pushed
I, too, know the push.
Even though I grew up wanting and planning to be a home-centered mom, I found myself with a college degree and $16K of debt! When asked where my career track was headed, I always responded with, I hope to be a professor of music. So, how did these two desires (motherhood and career) simultaneously exist in my mind? I don’t know. I never really stopped to think about it.
I felt the pressure. I felt the push. I did those things because they were what I was supposed to do.
So, I want each of my friends who are here today to know – I care about you very much. I know that some of you truly have no choice about the position you are in. I have no judgment in my heart about what you are doing with your life.
Choices have consequences.
(They actually do, even though not many people like that word these days.)
I hope that each and every one of us can honestly ask ourselves this question: How often do we think through our decisions?
Do we consider all of the repercussions of our actions through the lens of God’s Word and not just what other people say is “OK”? I know that I certainly did not think all the way to the logical conclusion of my decision to pursue a bachelor’s degree.
In Chapter 3, Sally says that “without Biblical conviction, the tendency is to blindly accept the norms or standards of the people with whom we spend time.”
However, if we want to experience the blessing of God and have a sense of wholeness to our lives, we must seek to understand His original design as clearly as possible.
What are three things that we can learn from Scripture about making choices and commitments that can help us as journey toward mothering with an undivided heart?
1. We need to be aware of what we are doing when we make our choices. (Proverbs 14:1, Luke 14:28)
If we want to build strong homes, we must think ahead and do what is necessary to lay a strong, stable foundation. And then, as we build, we need to check our progress along the way, keeping our overall purpose in mind and making choices that keep our building on the right track. We must assess our choices honestly to determine whether they are helping or hindering what we are trying to do. (p. 52)
2. We are instructed to set our hearts on choices with eternal results, not choices with only temporal significance. (Matthew 6:20-21)
Our children have the opportunity to live forever in God’s family. God has given them into our hands to protect and lead and shepherd them through this life. In His sight, they are my first priority. It is eternal work to train their hearts, minds and consciences in righteousness. This is the vital work of building a morally, emotionally, mentally and spiritually strong generation of children who will be prepared to function responsibly for the rest of their lives.
3. To fully experience our fulfillment in Christ and fulfill His will for our lives, we must come to the point where we give our whole selves to Him – our freedom, our time, our bodies, all of our possessions and gifts- trusting Him to show us how to use all that we are for His glory. (Romans 12:1)
To sacrifice means to give up or surrender something of value. How do we make the commitment to give the area of motherhood over to God as a sacrifice of worship to Him? We yield our personal rights into His hands. We give up our times and expectations to Him – and also our fears and worries about how we will manage. We trust Him to take care of us and our family. We let Him redirect our thinking and expectations and adjust our dreams. And we wait in faith to see the fruit of our hard labor in the lives of our children, knowing that He will be faithful to honor our commitment to Him. (p. 54)
Many moms, including some of you reading this post today, have discovered the same thing when you have made the choice for wholehearted motherhood. You’ve discovered that through a combination of creative problem solving and active trust, that whatever the Lord requires, He also enables.
Our children need us, moms!
Women were designed to nurture, to provide a life-giving environment in the home – to provide a center of life for all who live there.
With the privilege of bearing children comes the responsibility to commit wholeheartedly to the care of those children! Mothers who make the decision for home-centered motherhood have the time and opportunity to craft the kind of relationship with their young children that only extended time together can foster. This close relationship is a wonderful place to begin building a strong moral and spiritual foundation in the heart of the child.
Is the book saying that women shoud never work outside of the home?
Not necessarily. There have been many women who have creatively found ways to add income to the home while wholeheartedly mothering.
By the way…
Not a single one of us is off the hook!
All moms, whether we stay at home or work abroad, are susceptible to having a divided heart. Even if we are at home all day with our children, our hearts can be as far away from them as if we were working. Just because we stay at home does not automaticaly equate to our having an undivided heart.
“…Acknowledge the God of your father,
and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind,
for the Lord searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought.
If you seek him, he will be found by you;
but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever.”
I Chronicles 28:9
To the best of our ability, each of us needs to be committed to living as mothers with undivided hearts – dedicating ourselves fully to the task of building a home and nurturing our children.
Does staying at home mean that we automatically extinguish the opportunities to use our gifts, strengths and training? No way! As Sally reminded us back in Chapter 1 of this book…
“As I live out my life in faith and seek to be faithful in my walk with God,
as I nurture and honor my commitment to my husband and children and family and home,
as I exercise my skills, training and gifts toward those whom God has placed on my path;
as I seek to give to the poor and minister to the needy and those in my neighborhood and church,
while living a life of bold faith in a great and wonderful God,
My children, in the context of walking with me through my life, will gain a clear model of how they can live as well.”
I hope that this week, each of us will consider seriously the consequences of our choices.
May God give us wisdom as we turn our lives toward following after Him in everything that we do!
Now it’s your turn!
How has God used Chapter 3 to instruct and encourage your heart? Are you a mom who struggles with feeling like you are wasting your gifts by being at home? Or perhaps you have had to overcome obstacles in order to stay home with your children and God provided a way?
I would love to hear your stories!
Of course, as always, you are welcome to share an answer to one of the study questions from Chapter 3, a favorite quote, or just your general thoughts on the chapter.
Please remember to keep your words seasoned with grace as we discuss this topic that is dear to all mothers’ hearts.
I’ll see you next Monday, October 28th, to discuss my favorite chapter in the book – Chapter 4: The Servant Mother.
To read all of the posts in this series, click HERE.*
*You can read more posts concerning motherhood and Christian living at my daughter’s blog here at Where My Treasure Is.