There seems to be a lot of confusion these days about the role of motherhood. Some view motherhood as something you settle for, giving up career possibilities and fulfillment of dreams. Others view motherhood as something they were perhaps thrust into by circumstances such as an unplanned pregnancy. A few view it as something they have chosen and desired. I recently read another “modern” view of motherhood: that of “lifestyle option”. In other words, it’s okay for some women, but not for others; it is something that you choose out of a plethora of other choices. This past summer, I conducted a study on the role of motherhood—not only the world’s view, but also how God views mothers. My heart was burdened when I saw how few women really understand the awesome task that has been set before us as mothers and how the false images imposed on us by the world have made our task even harder.
In the past, motherhood was something that was revered. In art and literature, the picture of motherhood was something beautiful, something desirable. Children were perceived as a blessing to the family, and as contributors to the family well-being. In paintings, mothers were depicted as almost saintly, often with haloes above their heads. In our modern day society, how do we see mothers portrayed? Think of the last TV show you watched or movie that you saw. Mothers today are often portrayed as worn-out, frazzled and resentful, screaming at their children and complaining about their husbands. They are perceived as “just a mother” instead of a successful career woman. How many times have you heard the term “just a stay-at-home mom”? When I first left my job (as a successful medical sales rep) to stay at home with our first baby, I remember being somewhat embarrassed at my husband’s office parties when asked, “And what do you do?” Somehow, it felt as if I were less worthy if I didn’t have a “real” job. When I replied that I was a mom, the questioner would usually respond with a patronizing, “Ohhh”, and turn quickly to talk to someone else. In spite of the fact that I knew I was where I wanted to be (home with my children), I still felt belittled and looked down on. I came to love the people who would respond, “Oh, good for you.” While I never questioned my decision to stay at home with my children, there were days when I battled the world’s whispers in my mind, telling me I was settling for something less than the best. I could hear the voice of my high-school guidance counselor in my head, telling me I was “stupid” for giving up my dream of medical school because I wanted to someday be a mother (yes, this really happened). Fortunately, I had a strong support network of other mothers who felt God’s call on their hearts to full-time motherhood, as well as the example of my own mother, and quickly learned how to be content at home. Now, after almost 15 years of full-time mothering (and now homeschooling as well), I can honestly say I never feel ashamed when asked what I “do”. I proudly tell them that I am raising and educating my children, and that they are a blessing to me and my husband. What made the difference in my heart and attitude? Easy…it was coming to understand that God’s call to mothers is a divine and noble thing, and that I am not settling, but embracing God’s best for me and my children.
God actually has quite a bit to say in His word about mothering. In Genesis 1:26-28, He tells us that we are made in God’s image, to reflect who He is. He gave us the task of making the earth productive; that also involves raising children who will carry on this task. In the Garden of Eden, God’s design was for men and women to partner and bear children and within the context of that family, learn to bring Him glory on this earth. God views children far differently than our world does today. In Psalm 127, God says that children are a blessing and a reward from Him. He also gives us a comforting picture in Isaiah 40:11 of how He leads us as we nurture our children: “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.” I love this image of God as our shepherd, gently guiding us as we lead our little lambs.
Scripture clearly shows that God views motherhood as a divine calling, not just something we settle for or are forced into. HE chose YOU to raise your children; it didn’t happen by default, no matter the circumstances of your children’s conceptions or births. Isn’t that humbling? The Creator of the Universe chose YOU and gave you these little hearts to shape and mold to bring Him glory. It didn’t happen by accident. God lovingly created each of your children (Psalm 139) and placed them specifically in your family. Understanding this concept will transform how you view your role as their mother. When you are changing that 20th dirty diaper of the day, or cleaning up spilled Cheerios (again!), or reading “The Cat in the Hat” for the third time in a row, remember this: You haven’t “settled” for a lesser job, you’ve chosen to be obedient to the God of the universe and honor Him with your decision to give your heart and time to your children. Maybe the way you spend your days isn’t glamorous, but it will have eternal ramifications. You are raising the next generation to love the Lord and live for Him…and who knows? Maybe they will be the ones to change the world.
Please understand that I am writing this specifically for stay-at-home moms. I know there are many of you who have chosen (or been forced by circumstances) to work outside the home (and that this can be a sensitive subject). I am not condemning you for that choice. I would not presume to judge you for what God has placed on your heart or to say that He cannot use you in a mighty way in the working world. I am simply trying to encourage those who have chosen to stay at home with their children, and who feel condemned or less worthy because of that choice. No matter what your circumstances, if you are a mother, then your role is a noble one. We are all responsible for raising our children to know and love the Lord, and yet our culture has placed so much false guilt and so many impossible expectations on us that we have lost sight of our primary calling. Next time you are struggling with your role as a mom (whether you are full-time at home or not), remember this: God chose you and He will equip you with what you need to accomplish this daunting task. Will you throw off the world’s teachings and embrace the role that God has given you? Then our tasks will be a joy and not a burden, and our reward will be beyond all imagining, both here and for eternity. After all, God doesn’t see you as “just” a stay-at-home mom, but as someone created in His own image with a noble calling and purpose.
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