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I’ve raised a lot of children. Thirteen, in my fifteen years of married life. They’ve not all been mine, obviously. But I’ve been entrusted with each of them, whether for a season, or for a lifetime. I’ve taken many things away from the experience of mothering these children, but maybe the most profound lesson has been that every mother – no matter their successes or failures – is exactly what their child needs.
In the early years of my journey, I found it easy to judge the mothers whose job I was doing. This is common when we think we are mothering from our own strength and abilities. But once the grace of God got ahold of me, humbling me enough to see that – without God – I would completely fail at this, it became easier for me to empathize with the mothers I had been called to help. And I began to realize that I had not been entrusted with their children because I was a better mom – I wasn’t! But I had been entrusted with their children to serve the way Jesus did: with love, patience, faith, and in such a way that would point them to God.
In this journey, I have also come to realize that – weaknesses, shortcomings and all – I am the mother God has chosen for my children. Just as each child I held for a season had his or her own chosen mother, fully equipped to be all they needed, even if I or the rest of the world couldn’t see it at the moment.
It’s so easy for us to criticize others. Especially in raising children that come from traumatic situations, the tendency to judge a mother for what has happened to her children is thick. But that does nothing to aid the healing God wants to bring. It does nothing to strengthen the God-given bond between a mother and her child or children. In fact, it often does more damage to the bond. Whether we are judging ourselves or someone else, that judgmental criticism is a waste of time.
Our time would be much better spent believing what God has to say about mothers! Beginning with the first mother, Eve, God purposed that we would bring life into the world. Not just physical life, but life that would change the world. Life that would bear the image of God. Life that would leave its mark, as we invested our labors of love into the work of bearing, raising, and nurturing each child we are given.
The beautiful part about God’s purpose is that it is effective even in the face of our failures. Genesis 3:15 declares that, at the point of Eve’s greatest failure – a failure which would bring pain and suffering for every generation after her – God’s greatest promise was pronounced. Where Eve’s mistake introduced death and devastation, God declared – and thus empowered – that she would continue in her calling as a life-giver, and that so much good would come out of that calling, out of her, that the world would be saved and changed because of it. Ultimately, God was promising that the life of Jesus would inhabit the womb of a woman, and thus bring life to all the world.
If you’re a mother who’s struggling under the weight of past mistakes and failures, or comparing yourself to a mom who seems to be better at this than you, take heart! You are exactly the mother your children need today! God has made you a life-giver! If you know a mom who has failed, don’t judge her, because God doesn’t. His calling is still on her life, and her children still need her more than anything. Remind her that no one can do for her children what God has given her the ability to do.
Women, it is time to see a generation arise that is fiercely committed to what God designed and created us for: giving life. To our children, and to each other. This is hard work, and we meet sometimes with challenges that threaten to take us out of the race. But if we pull together, if we speak words of encouragement, if we serve as living examples of the grace of God to each other, I truly believe we could see a generation of children who are healed, who are whole, who rise to call their mothers blessed and to conquer the world with the love of Christ.
I am committed today to giving life in my little corner of the world, and hoping that you will rise to join me, wherever you are. Be encouraged in your calling today, and encourage another mother in hers, so that we may do this work with joy and with the strength that comes from community!