How being a mother is changing me to be more like Christ.
I remember a day several years ago when I felt cheated by motherhood.
Having been raised by parents who were dedicated to our church, I was accustomed to helping in every ministry possible, whether choir, special music, nursery, outreach, nursing home ministry, etc. You name it, we were involved. I attended a college that was focused on training people for the ministry and urged us to be involved in serving in our churches. So, I was involved. I was serving in every way I could. And I loved it.
But then a day came when I couldn't do what I loved. I couldn't do it because I was a mother. Our church was having an afternoon service at a nursing home, but I couldn't go because my two babies needed to go home and take their naps. I was extremely disheartened. I felt more deeply on that day than on any other how my life was changed by having children. Motherhood had overshadowed my specific ideas of who I should be and what I should be doing.
For many women, this is a reason why they are hesitant to become mothers. They want to focus on their careers, on traveling, or on simply living their lives with as little change as possible. And having children changes everything. I can understand that hesitancy!
But in my experience, the changes that result from becoming a mother are ultimately good--very good--especially if we are willing to learn from God through them. Through motherhood, God has been teaching me to be a servant, to be selfless, and to better understand who He is.
Being a Servant
I think every human naturally balks at the mention of being a servant. We like to be in charge of our own time and not have our activities dictated by others.
But being a mother means being a servant.
It means fixing your kids' food and cleaning up their messes when they are too young to do it. It means washing endless dishes and clothes without any appreciation from the little mess-makers. If I count up the number of meals I've prepared for my kids, it amounts to about 11,000. Diaper changes amount to over 22,000, not to mention all the loads of laundry, spilled drinks, and tubs of cheese balls dumped on the kitchen floor. Those numbers are daunting!
But do you know what else is daunting to consider? The fact that Jesus, Almighty God in the flesh, came to earth to serve. Jesus told his disciples in Mark 10:45 that "the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister." Philippians 2:7 says that He "made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant," and verse 5 encourages Christians to have the same mindset that Christ had.
What an opportunity we mothers have to be like Christ by serving our families! When we joyfully embrace this opportunity, we can better understand Christ's humility. We can draw nearer to His heart and His mind.
Hand-in-hand with servanthood is the attribute of selflessness. Selfishness is another natural inclination of our sinful human nature. It manifests itself in countless ways every day. It says, "I would rather focus on my wants than on yours right now."
My selfishness shows when I give a frustrated look to the child who interrupts my reading an article to ask the 479th question of the day. It shows when I leave the solace of my bedroom in a huff to settle an argument on the other side of the house. It shows when I hesitate to let the kids pull out the paints or glitter glue because I don't want to interrupt MY schedule to clean up an avoidable mess.
I think again of Jesus and His unselfishness. He freely healed countless people. He listened to the cries of the blind when others told them to be quiet. He welcomed the company of little children whom I imagine had dirty faces and many questions as all children do. He was compassionate toward the needs of crowds of people when He could have used a rest Himself.
Most importantly, He selflessly, undeservedly, gave His life on the cross for my sin and the sin of all people. Does that sacrificial mindset manifest itself in my reactions to my children's interruptions, in my attitudes toward their immature behaviors? As mothers, we must combat selfishness every day, but we can be encouraged by Jesus' example, and He will give us "grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:16). We must stop to think and pray before we react.
Understanding More About God
Motherhood has not only given me opportunities to be serving and selfless like Christ, it has also allowed me to better understand and appreciate God's patience and love toward me. I can see my relationship to God reflected in my children's relationship to me.
I can get frustrated when I have to teach my children how to do something several times before they understand. Then I realize how many times God has tried to teach me things (i.e. servanthood and selflessness) and that I am still learning.
I can get irritated when my children hesitate to obey, then I realize that I don't always obey God right away either.
I can get impatient when my children deny doing the wrong that I know they did, then I realize that I sometimes try to justify my own sin instead of seeing it as God does.
And when I fail in responding to my children as God wants me to, I see that God is always patient and loving toward me. He always listens. He always cares. Mothers are known for their tender concern, their kissing of boo-boos, their comforting hugs. God's love contains all of that tenderness and much, much more.
Motherhood changes a person. It changes her responsibilities and her priorities. Most importantly, it can help change her to be more like Christ. Mothers, let's embrace the opportunities we have every day to reflect Christ's example of serving and selflessness to our families. Let's show our children God's love and patience through our responses to them. And when we fail, let's lean on God's forgiveness and grace to do right at the next opportunity.