And four things you can do to help keep that focus
In the midst of the countless duties and endless chores that press in on us each day, it can be so easy for us as mothers to begin to question whether our lives have any real purpose beyond the mundane obligations which have come to seemingly define our daily lives. It’s hard enough to see over the pile of laundry and past the fresh muddy footprints on the floor to see the calendar on the wall and check for the next appointment we need to whisk our children off to, let alone to have eyes to see the beauty in the midst of chaos, the eternal work being done in our children’s young souls. But if focused only on the next load of laundry or the next meal to cook – in other words, just trying to survive this thing called motherhood – we can so quickly lose the vision of the amazing power we have to influence our children for Christ and truly make a difference in the world for generations to come. The power of influence that a mother has is a remarkable thing, never to be underestimated.
Though it may not feel like it at times, our purpose goes far beyond conquering that mountain of laundry or figuring out what, besides macaroni, to serve for dinner.
Abraham Lincoln once said, “All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.” Abraham Lincoln was referring to his birth mother, Nancy, who had died when he was only nine years old. His father remarried soon afterwards, and while young Abe came to deeply love and cherish his stepmother, Sarah, his mother Nancy had laid an unshakable foundation for her son who would one day become President of the United States, and lead the country in the abolition of slavery (you can read more about Abe and his mother here).
The Bible is chock full of stories of mothers from all different back grounds, economic levels, and social statuses. It’s hard to pick a favourite, but I have always enjoyed the New Testament account where we read of the first century Christian, Timothy. This young man had two godly women in his life – his grandmother, Lois and his mother, Eunice. We know little about his father, but many scholars believe he was either absent from young Timothy’s life, or present but not a positive influence. However, his godly grandmother and mother were key to him overcoming the odds, and becoming a godly man and influential leader in the early church. Timothy was able to travel in evangelism with the Apostle Paul, and according to church history, went on to become the pastor of the church at Ephesus (2 Timothy 1:5; 3:14-15).
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world”. That phrase is a line in the poem by the same name, written by the poet William Ross Wallace – (1819-1881). The fourth verse goes:
Woman, how divine your mission,
Here upon our natal sod;
Keep—oh, keep the young heart open
Always to the breath of God!
All true trophies of the ages
Are from mother-love impearled,
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.
Sweet Mama, as you go about your daily tasks, do them “as to the Lord” (Colossians 3:23). Your acts of service, heart of compassion, words of godly wisdom, and sincere heart for the Lord do not go unnoticed. Your children are watching. Those feet that track mud on your floor now may someday carry the gospel to faraway lands. Hands that spread jam on your walls today may someday bring healing to the sick in body and soul. Those voices that wake you up too early in the morning may someday loudly proclaim Christ’s love to the masses. May you be part of a generation of mothers who will use the power of their influence to change the world for eternity!
Here are four practical suggestions that can help you keep your focus on the meaningful mission of motherhood. I certainly have not done any of these perfectly through the years, but I can assure you that when I have, the attitude of my heart and the atmosphere in my home have been beautifully transformed.
1). Thank God for the messes. What? Yes, I’m serious. This is really hard to do, but remember, messes are a sign of life. Laundry means we have clothes and little people to wear them. Muddy footprints mean our children can walk. Dirty dishes mean we had food to eat, and people to eat with. I’m not trying to glamourize the messes, or say that we shouldn’t work with our children on learning to be neat and tidy and helpful. What I am saying is that we can find so much to be thankful if we just step back and honestly county the blessing we do have.
2). Stop sighing for the somedays and if-onlys. “Someday my child will be potty trained.” “If only my children were more independent and I had more time for ministry/hobby/friends, fill-in-the-blank”. “Someday my children will appreciate all I do for them”. Discontent robs us of the joy we could have in even the ordinary moments of today. Trust that God has you in the season that you are in right now because it is what is best for you, and He has all the grace that you need for this time in your life.
3.) Remember the high value that God places both on service and on children. Jesus said, “And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.” Matthew 10:42. As a young mother, I would often find myself feeling so annoyed by the constant neediness of my children. God convicted me with this Scripture (truth be told, I am often still very convicted by this statement!).
4.) Regularly refresh yourself with God’s Word. Constantly giving, giving, giving will deplete you over time. Mothering is spiritual work, and you need to have a fresh supply in your own spirit from which to draw out for others. If a traditional “quiet time” early in the morning is not possible due to the season you are in right now, get creative. When one of my little sons loved early mornings and seemed to beat me awake no matter how early I tried to start my day, I would take some time for Bible study and prayer when my kids had their afternoon nap. One of my sister in laws told me that she would spend time reading the Word during the night time feedings of her firstborn, since he was a slow eater and she was up anyways. There were times with my youngest, who had severe GERD and was also on overnight tube feeds, that I was up multiple times during the night cleaning up vomit and resettling him, and all I could manage was to listen to the Bible on audio as I tried to gather the strength to pull myself out of bed in the morning. God will meet you where you are at, and He promises to satisfy those who hunger and thirst for Him (Matthew 5:6).
Be encouraged, dear Mama. Your work matters. It matters today and it will matter for eternity. Being intentional about gratitude, contentment, valuing what God values, and keeping your own heart refreshed by regular time with God will help you to have joy even in the most mundane parts of this wonderful, messy, eternal work of motherhood.