Motherhood can be heart wrenching and joyful – difficult and so rewarding – all at the same time. We spend our days as mothers serving and loving these little people in our house – but if our focus ins’t in the right place – it can make it all the more painful and difficult.
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“The joy of the Lord is your strength.” – Nehemiah 8:10
If there is one thing I’ve learned over and over again in my motherhood, it’s that I have to daily lean on Jesus’s strength. It’s only in Him and through Him that I am able to take care of my family and mother well.
Now, I still slip and fall a lot. I stumble and I fail, but all that does is lead me back to my dependence on the Lord in all things. Especially in my motherhood.
Here’s what it all boils down to: Motherhood is servant leadership. As a mother, my job and my role is to serve and in that I am imitating our Lord.
“and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” – Mark 10:44-45
As Mothers, this is our life. And it’s really easy to get worn out and run ragged if we don’t have the proper focus within our motherhood.
When the Days are Long
A mother’s life isn’t easy. And from that day that you welcome that first little bundle of joy into your home, it’s not long before the days can feel mundane, endless, and weary.
I don’t know how many moms I’ve talked to or seen posting on Facebook and they feel overwhelmed and defeated. They are tired, they are exhausted, they work from sun up to sun down without a lot of thanks (or anything thanks) and they start to feel like something is wrong.
“Why I am so exhausted all the time?” “Is it supposed to be this hard?” “I fall into bed exhausted at night only to rise again the next day and do it all over again.”
They look at social media, they look to popular culture, and they assume their days should be easier, maybe a little happier, and certainly less exhausting. We start to feel that there must be something wrong with us if this whole motherhood thing is so hard.
Serving within motherhood
Jesus came to earth with a very unpopular message to the jews. The jews were looking for a Messiah. They were waiting for their victor who would deliver them from the Romans. They were eagerly awaiting the Messiah who they thought would storm in as a military and political leader.
Instead Jesus says, “even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” – Matthew 20:28
We know that Jesus taught us to be servant leaders. To put others interests before our own. To serve with all humility and joy. Jesus led by that example.
However, this flies in the face of what the world values. The world values power, prestige, climbing the corporate ladder to be in the highest position of power possible. We look down on those jobs that are servers. We look down on those blue collar jobs, especially those that take care of the physical needs of people: cleaning, dirty laundry, even child care workers.
We don’t value those jobs and that has a direct translation to our motherhood. What is it that we spend our day and our life doing? Those menial, blue collar jobs that we do day in and day out. My day consists of many roles: As a janitor, as a maid, as a cook, as a laundromat, a school teacher, and so much more.
It’s very easy to look at our motherhood, and to look at our motherhood through the lens of the world’s standards, and see our job in the home as worthless, subpar, or as drudgery.
And I get it – I do not like the dirty dishes or scrubbing poop out of the carpet when potty training the toddlers. And when I start to add up the physical jobs I do each day, it’s easy to feel like my “worth” isn’t much. Because I am spending my time cooking, cleaning, and on repeat. The world doesn’t value these tasks, why would I?
Because Jesus greatly valued these roles and these jobs. Jesus came as a servant. Our Lord and our King came to earth, not to rule over and to have people serve him, but rather so that he could serve. And in the end, he paid the ultimate price with his life. He quite literally laid down his life for the life of his friends.
Jesus was a servant leader and he models this for all believers, and mothers are no exceptions.
Dear exhausted mama, you are a servant leader! When we start to shift our frame of mind from the poor exhausted mama who has so much to do (which isn’t incorrect) to the idea that God has called us to lay down our life for these little people. God has called us to powerfully imitate Christ by being servant mothers. We lead by serving.
While there are wise and good ways to do things from a good laundry routine to discipline within parenting, there’s also nothing wrong with us if we fall into bed exhausted at night.
We need to follow wisdom and build rest into the regular pattern of our day. After all, we note time and again when Jesus would withdraw to be by himself to rest, and most importantly, pray. He knew the importance of that solitude, that rest, and making time with the Father.
But we also see Jesus being hounded by the crowds (kind of reminds me of when all 5 kids are trying to clamber up my legs or sit on my lap at once) and he never gets annoyed or irritated that they are there, or that they need something from him. He responds with love and grace because he knows that his purpose is to serve.
So while the days may be long and exhausting mamas, the years really are short and we are to serve to the best of our ability. This one simple mind shift won’t suddenly give you an extra dose of energy, but it can give you that quiet hope and peace when the toddler wakes up screaming at 3am. Again.
It can give you that patience at the end of a long and weary day to greet your husband with just a little extra dose of understanding. It can give you the endurance to power through the remainder of a week of the stomach flu – knowing that while you’ve been covered in 3 different people’s vomit for the past 72 hours – God is working and moving within it all.
And throughout it all, we can faithfully and powerfully demonstrate the Gospel to those watching. To the littles in your house learning how to behave in this world. To the teens who are looking for strong boundaries and even stronger love. To the husband who has needs and wants love as well. And to a watching world who doesn’t understand WHY we would lovingly spend our life serving and how we can imitate Christ and give a glimpse of the Gospel in all that we do.
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