About halfway through my pregnancy, the Lord began moving in my heart. I was aware of Motherhood’s hefty demands – time, energy, resources. After all, I had been a full-time nanny of three up to that point. But the Spirit began pressing me. What does “success” look like as a Mama? The question echoed in my head over and over again. And the more I allowed the Word to minister to me, the more my focus shifted.
Is the purpose of motherhood to raise Ivy-League academics or All-State athletes? Is it to breed the most well-dressed daughters or grizzly sons? Maybe it’s to shower them with every toy and activity imaginable? I ask these questions with every serious bone in my body. Not because I believe these things are pictures of successful motherhood, but because the draw of them is so strong that it’s hard not to give them guiding privileges.
At least, that’s how the world portrays motherhood. Everywhere we turn, we are inundated with one more expectation we must meet to qualify as “good,” “successful” mothers. If we aren’t giving our children every advantage in life, then it’s easy to believe we aren’t giving our kids anything. That’s what the world wants us to think. But that’s not what Christ is telling us to believe. He’s telling us something completely different.
Our greatest success as mothers is raising Children to know Christ.
The Lord dropped this on me like a bombshell. Initially, it was in a sermon by John Piper and now in the quiet of my prayer time. Of course, I want my children to be smart, talented, athletic, and influential. But in those intimate moments of prayer at 30-odd weeks pregnant, my Sweet Jesus whispered, “At what cost”? Then, he quickly nudged me to something greater:
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:24-26 NKJV)
The question he was asking me remained simple. Do I want children who are willing to die? Or do I want children who will only live in this lifetime? It sounds dramatic, but those are very relevant questions every mother must ask. Without them, we are left with no tangible definition of success and an insurmountable pressure to adhere to the material definition this world has to offer us.
I’ll admit, I hate the idea of my children “dying.” But if my options are death now or eternal death later, then I know which I choose. I choose to daily show them both the battle and the blessing of daily carrying my cross. I choose to demonstrate my depravity and need for Christ, meanwhile showing them how faithful and merciful God truly is. It is the decision to be vulnerable with them that I need grace just as much as they do. It’s the conscious choice to let them in on the messy bits even when the messy bits make me seem weak.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the “non-essentials” of motherhood and forget about the most important thing we’ve been called to. Not once does Christ command us to shower our children with things. Never does he call us to push them to Ivy-League excellence or athletic fame. It matters little him whether we had a homebirth or scheduled c-section; breastfed or formula fed; choose public school or homeschool. He even leaves us to find our own personal convictions on vaccines, co-sleeping, cloth diapers, essential oils, and every other “controversy” that wrecks friendships in the mom-world. It’s not that he doesn’t care about these things, he cares for every aspect our lives. Instead, he has more pressing things for us to worry about. Namely, the Salvation of the little ones he has entrusted to our care.
In the quiet of my pre-baby prayer time, this truth resonated with me. “Successful motherhood” isn’t measurable by anything this world offers us. True success as a mother is raising Children who know Christ. If we fail that mission, then nothing else matters. No amount of toys, scholarships, GMO-free fruit snacks, or summer camps can ever make up for that failure.
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 28:19 NIV)