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Risen Motherhood

…More on Motherhood by Jenna Selander

  In his recent Mother’s Day sermon, Pastor Tim offered an important message to modern moms: “the biggest critic in your life is the mean mom that lives [inside of you] …the little voice that says, ‘You are not enough.’ In order to confront this harsh “inner critic” in our hearts and minds, moms need to rely on the “voice of God as expressed in Scripture.” Tim continued in his sermon to show how focusing on God’s truth can help us to “rewire our minds, and see who we truly are and who Jesus wants us to be.”
In their book Risen Motherhood, Emily Jensen and Laura Wifler similarly address some of the false messages facing moms today which can easily destroy our inner peace. Here is a summary of some of these messages and the biblical wisdom Jensen and Wifler offer to confront each one:

  • Culture’s Message: Change Your Circumstances 
  As moms, there are a number of responsibilities we must juggle apart from child-rearing alone: from housework, to jobs outside the home, to church responsibilities and more. So often we assume that making adjustments to our lifestyle will relieve all the stress of managing these different aspects of our lives. We convince ourselves that our happiness is dependent on finding the perfect family/personal/social life balance: “…we just need to get up earlier. Buy a better planner...make a chore chart. Implement a housecleaning system…Eat less sugar…Count to 20 and chant a calming mantra before [we] speak…” (44)
  Jensen and Wifler explain more about how this attitude can ultimately take a toll on our faith:
When motherhood feels hard, [we] often want to blame [our] circumstances, children, or husbands…When [we] worry about tomorrow’s schedule or get frustrated because [our] morning alone time is short, [our] heart[s] [are] revealing what is already there: misplaced worship of [our] own comforts and control… (49)
  True contentment in motherhood involves trusting in a God who has our lives in control even when we feel like we don’t: “By placing our joy, trust, and hope in Christ rather than our situation, our hearts will have a solid, unwavering foundation to rest in regardless of our ever-changing environment” (50).

  • Culture’s Message: Extraordinary Is Better Than Mundane 
  Speaking of control…maybe you are a “Type A” personality like me. I love making to-do lists and crave feeling accomplished at the end of each day. Naturally, my patience is often tested when the needs of my toddler slow down the pace of my plans. A typical, ten-minute walk to the playground, for example, often turns into a much longer, stop-and-go journey, as we pause to pick up every rock along the side walk or to pet all the neighborhood dogs. In reality, the more tedious tasks of parenting probably won’t go away in my son’s later years. There will be hours of waiting in traffic at the school pick-up line and sitting on the sidelines of sports practices.
  Yet many of us wish motherhood was more glamorous than this. Social media can make it falsely appear that it is, or that it should be. Most of the time we post about our fun, family vacations or our kids’ biggest accomplishments. There’s nothing wrong with this, of course, but scrolling through our fellow mom-friends’ photos can make us feel that our own worlds are comparatively dull.
  Jensen and Wifler address the pressure we may feel to make our daily lives seem exciting and meaningful: “…the world around us primarily values visible gains. It doesn’t affirm ordinary faithfulness – the wiped counters, the clean diapers…Burdened by the mundane, we wonder if we need to spend time in better ways” (78).
  The truth is, however, that God is proud of all of our “ordinary” efforts, so long as we commit our hearts to honoring him in all the little things that we do (Colossians 3:23-24). HE is the one that gives significance to the slowest, lowest tasks. “…We’re really not that special…” Jensen and Wifler write, “…but Christ in us is spectacular…It might be mundane to fold laundry, but it’s extraordinary to do it patiently with joy and a heart full of love...It might be mundane to fill the fridge with groceries, but it’s extraordinary to praise God for his provisions” (85).

  • Culture’s Message: If I Just Had More Time for Me 
  It’s obvious that parenthood requires patience – and sacrifice too! While my husband and I are incredibly excited for the arrival of our second baby, I also cringe thinking about all the hours of sleep we will lose in the early months of this little one’s life.
Of course, we moms can’t neglect our own well-being in the midst of caring for our children. Society reminds us of this often. At a yoga studio I used to attend, there was a large sign in the lobby that read “Self-care is not selfish!” The Health and Beauty Industry has capitalized on our culture’s push for personal wellness: women are targeted daily by businesses encouraging us to “treat ourselves” to whatever product they are selling or services they may offer.
  But when the needs of our families seem endless, it can be hard to squeeze in a pedicure appointment – let alone a nap or a shower! The pressure to prioritize our own pampering can end up feeling like an added burden to those of us busy mothers.  
At the same time, God really does care for us and wants us to get the rest we deserve. He frequently responded to the physical – not just spiritual needs of people in the past – such as when he gave Elijah the opportunity to rest, eat and drink before continuing on his important journey to Mount Horeb (1 Kings:19). In Genesis 2, God gave all of us a full day in our weekly schedule just to relax from the other six days of craziness!
But ultimately, there is a difference to what God says about rest and what society tries to communicate to mothers: while our culture may tell us that we need “self-care” so that we have the energy to care of our children, the Bible takes this further by showing us how our need for rest is part of God’s sacred design for all people: “…the creation account tells us we need care because God made us that way” (165). The purpose of our relaxing on Sundays, therefore, is not just to become better moms and better “versions of ourselves,” but to honor God and to renew our energy for serving Him in the various roles we play within and outside of the home.  
And contrary to what society says, most of don’t so much need extra “me time” as we need time to rest, pray and read God’s word. Don’t get me wrong – all moms deserve a spa day! – but nothing can rejuvenate our hearts quite like time spent with Jesus: “In many cases, self-care is wise, good, and important. But only God’s care and sustaining power can shape us into the image of Christ through the Holy Spirit” (171).
  My fellow moms, in this season of Mother’s Day and all other times of year, let’s rejoice in knowing how seen and loved we are by God! He values the care and effort we take to meet our families’ needs but also delights in our resting. And we can rest easily knowing He is perfectly in control of our busiest – and slowest – seasons. Amen!

Jensen, Emily, and Laura Wifler. Risen Motherhood: Gospel Hope for Everyday Moments. Harvest House, 2019.

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