The Everyday Question of Motherhood
Note: This article now appears in Desiring God’s free ebook Mom Enough, available in three electronic formats, as well as paperback.
As a mother, there is a constant, uncomfortable battle that rages inside of me. It is not the big or dramatic: Will I raise my children to love God? Will I train them to obey Him? Do my children belong to Him?
The constant battle of motherhood is more subtle, more everyday, more hideable. At the center is one question: Will I sacrifice? Or as Oswald Chambers poses in My Utmost for His Highest: "[Am I] willing to spend and be spent; not seeking to be ministered unto, but to minister?"
The Everyday Question isn't answered one time, with the birth of a child, with the planning of school, or with the decision to discipline. This question — Will I sacrifice? — is answered everyday.
It’s answered when a child wakes early with a need, interrupting my quiet hour alone with the Lord.
It’s answered when a sick child keeps me from worship and adult interaction at church on Sunday mornings.
It’s answered when I am emotionally spent, but a child’s behavior requires my patient, purposeful response.
It’s answered almost every moment of the potty training process.
It’s answered as I systematically teach my special-needs son how to interact with others.
In motherhood, the Everyday Question is answered every time a child’s concern or need must come before my own, which is most of the time.
Too often, I attend to necessary tasks — leaving the stove to help with pant buttons, putting down the phone to search for a beloved toy, excusing myself from a conversation at church to take tired children home for a nap — while my heart grumbles. If I just had one moment to complete a task or have an adult conversation without an interruption.
The Everyday Question, however, asks not just about what I do but also about my attitude: Will I joyfully pour out my life as a fragrant offering before the Lord for the benefit of my children? Will I serve my children out of obligation and duty or will I serve like I'm serving God Himself? Will I die to myself so that I might live to God in the specific calling He has given me as a mom?
The Everyday Question must be answered everyday.
Because motherhood is not so much the big, dramatic acts of sacrifice, but the little, everyday, unseen ones.
Because we can have a clean house and obedient children and not sacrifice.
Because we are so easily deceived to think we can live for ourselves and be faithful to God in our ministry as moms.
Jesus said that those who live for themselves will actually have an unfulfilling life, but those who lose for their lives for His sake will really experience life. As parents, our self-death for Christ’s sake not only produces fruit in our own hearts, but produces fruit in the hearts of our children, fruit that grows by the power of God. Let us, then, choose to joyfully give of ourselves for our children.
“For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal bodies.” (2 Corinthians 4:11)
“For the love of Christ compels us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died, and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” (2 Corinthians 5:14–15)