It seems like my world revolves around nap schedules and diaper changes, and my brain seems consumed with the one pressing question: Why is she still getting up 4 times a night? What can I do to help her sleep on her own?
In my bible study last week, I was sharing that sometimes motherhood feels myopic to me. Until 7 months ago, my focus was on hundreds of children. Now it is on one. Don’t misunderstand me… I LOVE being Cora’s mama. Every single day I am thankful that I get to spend my time with her, and I am soaking in every single moment.
But the monotony of motherhood – the diapers, feedings, naps, laundry – sometimes rattles me. I’m silent on this blog nowadays… mostly because I feel like I have nothing to say. (And little time to say it.) I know that is a lie, planted in my head by the one who wants to dishearten me from my task. But it is hard to feel valuable, meaningful, and relevant when I am spending considerable portions of my day scanning the floor for potential choking hazards.
(Because she will find them.)
I know what I’m doing matters. I know it is the most important job I could have right now. I know all the right things we mama’s say to each other. And I do know they are true. But some days there is a disconnect between what I know and what I feel, and what I feel is sometimes that I have lost a bit of myself somewhere along the way… lost the part of me that has a big heart for the forgotten and an energy and a drive to make a difference. It’s a little scary, confusing, and even discouraging at times – I just don’t feel like I have much to emotionally offer to the causes I was so passionate about just a few short months ago.
I guess that’s why I feel motherhood can be a bit myopic. All my focus on one, when part of my heart still desires to focus on the others. But last week, in my study of 1 Peter for bible study, a particular passage jumped out at me. It was an odd one – the first time I read it, I honestly thought that it didn’t even apply to me, so I skipped ahead. It’s about elders… But then for some reason I came back to it. (Actually the reason is that this particular study has us reading and journaling about a few verses a day. You can’t really skip a section you don’t think is applicable when it is THE section you are supposed to focus on for the day. It’s good for me, because what tends to happen is I find the most conviction/life-change in the passages I initially write off as irrelevant. Funny how that works.)
Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly – not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example. And when the Great Shepherd appears, you will receive a crown of never-ending glory and honor.
-1 Peter 5:2-4
Willingly, not grudgingly… oh to always have this attitude. For me, motherhood is the epitome of servanthood; and being a servant isn’t glamorous and it doesn’t get you acclaim. I so often struggle with feeling inadequate; not as smart and talented as I once was or as my peers who are still “in the trenches” of orphan care, the workplace, or any other responsibility that doesn’t center around a baby.
But in this passage, God spoke loud and clear to me. When I’m changing Cora’s diaper, or rocking her to sleep, or feeding her in the middle of the night, I’m serving HIM. Not an earthly boss, but the God of all Creation.
I’m reading Sacred Parenting by Gary Thomas right now. It’s a great book, not about how to raise your children, but about how raising your children shapes your soul. Powerful and convicting stuff. In it, he says anger towards infants is rooted in inconvenience to the parents. So very true. The other night, I was rocking Cora for an hour straight! She STILL wouldn’t go to sleep! I had plans for my evening, for that sacred time after she was asleep, and they were all falling apart with each minute that ticked by. At one point, I wanted to scream at her: JUST GO TO SLEEP! And with that I realized, God is using this season of my life to weed out not only pride, but also my self-centeredness. Putting the “other” before myself is the chief task of motherhood.
But if we’re being honest, isn’t it the chief task of the Christian walk as well?
And then it hit me… Being Cora’s mama isn’t myopic. It is training ground for a deeper way; a higher calling. I truly believe God is wanting to develop in me a mother’s heart – not just towards my own daughter and my future children, but towards all the people he puts in my life. My prayer these last few days has been that God will use this season of parenting Cora… a season of high needs and constant demands and never-ending attention… to create in me a nurturing, loving, life-giving, and self-sacrificial heart towards all that He puts in my path.
What would the world look like if we served those around us the same way we served our children? Joyfully, with no accounting, no question of whether or not it is deserved — just served, open-hearted and open-handed, in whatever relationships He puts us in?
It’d be revolutionary.