Saturday, May 21, 2016

Marvel in the Mundane of Motherhood

 As women, God has made us unique with particular skills, instincts, and tendencies.  Whether or not we have children of our own, we have these motherly instincts and qualities and they are good. And they teach us about who God is and they teach our kids about who God is. Many of these qualities may at first seem to be mundane and not important and can even easily become burdensome tasks-- a duty not a delight. Such as feedings every 3 hours, or a clingy baby that only wants mama, or keeping them creatively entertained, or what seems like constant correction. But in each of these there is marvelous truth to be seen if you know what to look for.

God’s character revealed through tasks
God created babies to begin their life with needing one source of nourishment—milk—and you are that source of that nourishment. Whether you breast-feed or formula-feed, the baby cannot feed himself. He is helpless without you. He cries out to you to let you know the pain he is in and there is only one thing that will satisfy! Only one thing that will be sufficient! It doesn’t matter that he just did it 2 hours previously. It doesn’t matter that it is 3 am. He tried the pacifier but it’s not the same! He needs you!  This task of mothering can seem unimportant and even bothersome. It’s easy to miss the bigger picture if you aren’t looking. Isn’t this exactly how we are? We are helpless babes that don’t know what we need but we know we are in pain and we cry out! We have tried to soothe ourselves with lesser things. They weren’t sufficient. But God is sufficient! He is all-sufficient! In Him we have no need or lack. And aren’t we glad He meets our needs every time we cry out. It doesn’t matter to Him if we just asked 2 hours ago for something.  It doesn’t matter to Him if its 3 am.  He is faithful.  Praise God, He doesn’t tire or begrudgingly help us. Instead He tells us that His grace is sufficient for our wearisome task. Isn’t it amazing that from life’s first cry mothers get to display God’s sufficiency. And the first thing the baby learns is that when he cries out, you will give him what he needs. Don’t forget to do the same when your joy for the midnight feeding is not there. And the mother and the babe now have a category that God is sufficient and a provider.

God’s character revealed through busy-ness
Just when you feel like you’ve got this feeding thing down, you blink and they are toddlers. They can run, and play, and build, and dig, and color, and are happy—as long as you are doing it all right there with them…over and over and over again! Your energy is low. Theirs is high. You are satisfied with one game of knock down the tower. They are satisfied with eleventy hundred games of knock down the tower. You like coloring on the paper placed right in front of you. They like coloring on the walls in the other room. You like to eat three meals a day they like to eat 12 meals a day…or maybe none at all. You like to eat bananas with your mouth. They like to eat bananas with their hair. It seems like you get nothing done. Like you are going from one mess to another following a little tornado around the house all. day. long. Is there ever a waking moment you are not with them? Maybe to use the bathroom? No. Even that is now a spectator event.  It’s almost as if you are ever-present in their life.  And while that may seem mundane to you, let’s stop and marvel at what’s really happening. Think of the security it gives to that tender heart and mind that may not be capable of understanding why he can’t pee on the carpet whenever he wants, but surely is capable of understanding something much greater-- that mommy is here, mommy is always here. Oh, wait…..who does that remind you of? Our faithful God is ever-present in our life and aren’t you glad He is? He too is always here cleaning up our messes, guiding us, teaching us. Again, I find it amazing that we as mothers display His character of faithful shepherd in our ordinary day of getting nothing done but cleaning up messes. And the mother and the toddler now have a category for faithfulness, teacher, shepherd, omni-presence and hopefully patience, gentleness, and joy as well.

God’s character revealed through repetition
Before you know it, they are old enough for school….and apparently old enough for sass! It seems that with the increase of age also comes the increase of testing boundaries that you were sure were clearly established--rules that were made for their protection. You take on the role of playing both judge and jury to important life-or-death arguments like whose turn it is to sit where for the 3-minute car ride to Walmart. And in your composed, gentle, and loving voice you declare the solid wisdom of, “YOU’LL SIT WHERE I TELL YOU TO SIT AND YOU’LL LIKE IT!” You also get to have interesting conversations about things you could never prepare for like “Why we don’t eat deodorant,” or “Why we don’t draw with permanent marker on our sister’s face.” What Bible verse applies to that? How do I relate the gospel to this? …the marker is like our sin?….umm…do unto others, so now your sister gets to draw on you?….children obey your parents always works, right?….I don’t know….just don’t do it because I said so! UGH! Why is disciplining so hard and so constant? Didn’t we just go through this yesterday? Yes, you did! And you will again tomorrow and the next day. Repetition is how we all learn, isn’t it? We don’t sing the ABC’s once to our child and expect them to know it. We sing it over and over and over again while we play and while we get dressed and while we walk and we don’t get upset when they try to sing it and they get mixed up or forget a letter. We gently correct them and encourage them to try again, don’t we? Why do we expect a different method and use a different form of correction when it comes to other matters much more important than our ABC’s? And yet no matter how many times your child will fail you in the day, and yet no matter how many times you will fail your child, there is love. Unconditional love. You wouldn’t trade her for anything in the world. Is there another way to understand this quality of God? Yes, we have a deep love for our husband, but it is often tainted with our sinful curse that puts conditions on our love for him. But our children….no matter what the day brought, no matter what sins they committed, we can’t help but love them, and they us! And the same is true for us as a child of God. No matter how we failed Him in our mothering, in our parenting, as a wife, He has a deep unconditional love for us. He wants what’s best for us and sets boundaries for us and is jealous for us to love Him alone. And He gently repeats over and over to us the way we should go.  And now the mother and the child have a category for God as master, protector, discipliner, and unconditional love.
God’s character revealed through perseverance
Then what seems like the next day, your teenager begins asking weird questions in a deep voice such as, “Can I take a nap?” or “Can I take a shower?” and you freak out a little and wonder how you fell into this time warp where your baby aged, but you didn’t and you realize its almost over. They are about to leave you …and they want to! When did that happen?! Why am I the clingy one now never wanting him to leave? I’m finally getting this mothering thing down and now they are all leaving me. But wait, isn’t that what it was all about? They want to leave because they are ready to leave, because you made them ready to leave. Every lesson, every discipline, every play time, every meal time was preparing them for a life on their own to go forth and do the same. Because of the security of growing up under the guidance of their mother they are ready. And just because they are gone, doesn’t mean your title of mother is gone. In fact, you may just get promoted to the title of grandmother! You will always be their mother and they will always be your child. It is an everlasting title. Just as God is everlasting and we will always be his child.
So do not grow weary in doing good, mothers! For in due season you will reap, if you do not give up! Do not give up, mother! Marvel in the mundane of motherhood. There is much to learn from it. It is a gift to you and to your children. Nothing is wasted in the hands of our Redeemer. And now the mother and the young adult have a category for God’s perseverance, and endurance, and security, and trust, and an everlasting loving Father.