A God-Sized Vision For Motherhood
Photos by Tierney Cyanne Photography
Eric and I were married for ten years before we had children. Just why did we wait so long? The official reason—meaning the answer that we gave to anyone who was nosy enough to ask—was that we were incredibly busy with our travel and speaking schedule, and we were waiting to start a family until our life settled down a bit.
But in all honesty, there was a deeper reason for our reluctance to say “yes” to the pitter-patter of little feet. After hearing countless comments that portrayed motherhood in a chaotic, miserable, negative light, I had become afraid of having children. In our many travels and interactions with Christian families around the country, I’d encountered one mom after the next who was frazzled, exhausted, and at her wit’s end. The concept of motherhood had become just plain scary to me.
Statements like, “You may have romance in your marriage now, but just wait ’til you have kids!” and “Motherhood will destroy your life!” echoed in my ears whenever the subject of starting a family came up between Eric and me. I’d been told that once I said “yes” to children, my home would become a chaotic disaster, my marriage would fall apart, my appearance would be in shambles, and my relationship with Christ would fall by the wayside. Though I knew that God’s Word said children were a gift from the Lord, I found myself wondering why anyone would ever want that kind of “blessing.”
Year after year of marriage went by and I continued to hedge on having children. Growing up, I’d always desired to be a mom someday. But after hearing one horror story after the next about motherhood, I had become convinced that motherhood would cause my life, home, marriage, and walk with God to become all but ruined.
I began to ask God to change my heart toward having children. After all, I reasoned, the concept was His idea. Who better to give me the correct perspective on starting a family than the One who invented family in the first place?
God gently began to open my eyes to His perspective on motherhood. As I looked at the pattern of Scripture, I awakened to the fact that in His design, motherhood is not meant to be miserable and chaotic. Rather, God’s intent for motherhood is just the opposite! Just look at these amazing promises from God’s Word:
- Children are meant to bring strength into our lives:
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth (Psalm 127:4).
- Children are a reward and gift from God:
Behold, children are a gift of the Lord. The fruit of the womb is a reward (Psalm 127:3, NASB).
- God gently and tenderly cares for mothers of young children:
He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those who are with young (Isaiah 40:11).
- Children are precious to Him:
But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:14).
- God intends to make us into happy mothers:
He settles the childless woman in her home as a happy mother of children” (Psalm 113:9, NIV).
- A Christ-centered mother is dignified, confident and joyful:
She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come (Proverbs 31:25, NIV).
As I meditated upon these life-giving truths, I began to catch God’s vision for motherhood. Even though I hadn’t seen an abundance of joyful, radiant, or excellent motherhood, I began to realize that it truly was possible to rise above mediocrity and chaos, and experience victory instead of defeat. The secret was in leaning on God’s strength and not my own.
I studied the lives of some heroic women from Christian history and my eyes were further opened to this truth. Women like Elizabeth Fry and Catherine Booth had numerous children and world-impacting ministries. And yet because of the enabling grace and strength of God, they were truly excellent at both. Their homes were peaceful and orderly. Their marriages were solid. Their children grew up to change the world for God. And their personal relationships with Christ remained thriving and strong. It was clear they did not accomplish these feats on their own, but only because they had completely surrendered their lives to God and were relying fully upon His enabling strength.
From that time on, I became excited about the idea of starting a family. I asked God to shape me into a mother after His own heart; not accepting the world’s mentality of defeat or chaos, but rising up to a higher standard—His standard—by His grace.He is ready and able to give me every bit of grace and strength I need to experience victory instead of defeat.
This doesn’t mean there will never be moments or even seasons when things feel chaotic and out of control. And it doesn’t mean there won’t be times when the house looks like a hurricane hit it. But rather than resigning myself to an attitude of defeat and a lifestyle of chaos, I’ve chosen to keep my eyes upon the promises of God and pursue something better for my motherhood, by His grace. When chaotic moments come, the way I choose to respond makes the difference between motherhood victory and motherhood defeat.
I’d like to share two key truths that help me maintain a God-sized vision for motherhood, even when chaos comes knocking at my door:
1. Don’t resign to it
One of the most important truths I’ve learned in my Christian life is that I must not base my beliefs upon my emotions, but upon the Truth of God’s Word. If God said it and He cannot lie, then that’s all that matters, even if my emotions or experiences don’t immediately agree with His promises. God’s Word makes it very clear that He is not a God of chaos. He has promised that godly motherhood brings strength, dignity, and joy into our lives. Therefore, no matter what I may be feeling or experiencing in the moment, His reality is what is real.
Catherine Booth once exhorted one of her teenage daughters with the statement, “Do not give way to lowness…Rise up on the strength of God and resolve to conquer!” When my emotions are screaming “Motherhood will always be this way—just accept it!” that’s when I must rise upon the strength of God and resolve to conquer. When I turn to God in an attitude of faith rather than defeat, He overcomes the chaos I’m feeling with His peace and perspective. I’ve learned that being a set-apart motherhood doesn’t mean I’ll never experience chaos—it simply means I don’t accept an attitude of defeat and resignation when chaotic moments come along. When I choose to agree with God’s perspective on motherhood (instead of listening to my screaming emotions) He gives me a conquering, hope-filled attitude, even during chaotic moments.
Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us (Romans 8:37).
2. Say “no” to self-pity
As women, we often think that there is a magical list of things we need in order to be happy and fulfilled. When we are single, we often assume, “I’ll be happy when I finally meet my future husband and get married!” But when we are married we often think, “I’ll be happy when my kids finally start behaving better and my husband becomes more sensitive to me!” The reality is that if we are looking to anything outside of our relationship with Jesus Christ as our ultimate source of happiness, we’ll always be disappointed and frustrated.
In moments of motherhood chaos, we are prone to take on an attitude of self-pity, thinking, “If only my circumstances were different, I’d be happy and content.” What helps me most when I’m struggling with this temptation is to remember what God has done for me. When I think of what I’ve been rescued from and all that was accomplished at the Cross, I realize that I have everything I need right now for perfect happiness, even if my circumstances never change. I love this statement from Elisabeth Elliot’s book, Discipline, the Glad Surrender:
“This job has been given to me to do. Therefore, it is a gift. Therefore, it is a privilege. Therefore, it is an offering I may make to God. Therefore, it is to be done gladly, if it is done for Him. Here, not somewhere else, I may learn God’s way. In this job, not in some other, God looks for faithfulness.”
“This job has been given to me to do. Therefore, it is a gift.”
If I choose to see motherhood as the gift and privilege from God that it is, I am far less prone to wallow in self-pity even when things aren’t going as smoothly as I would like. Rejecting self-pity and embracing a thankful, joyful attitude helps me keep God’s vision for motherhood in view, no matter what specific challenges I may be facing in the moment.
Now that I am a mother of six, I can honestly attest to the fact that motherhood doesn’t need to destroy a woman’s life, marriage, home, or relationship with God. I have discovered that children truly are a gift from the hand of God! By His grace, children truly can bring strength, joy, and beauty into a mother’s life. But first we must gain a God-sized vision for motherhood and lean upon His strength in order to see that vision become a reality in our daily lives.
If you have been struggling with a defeated perspective toward motherhood, I encourage you to ask God to refresh you with His beautiful, exciting, and hope-filled perspective. Remember His promise, “For I know the plans that I have for you…plans for welfare and not for calamity, plans to give you a future and a hope.” No matter what your motherhood experience has been up to this moment, when you choose to embrace God’s pattern and surrender your life fully to Him, you’ll begin to experience the amazing joy and fulfillment of God-scripted motherhood. Truly His ways are perfect!