Faith, Hope and Motherhood
Becoming a mum brings so many changes to your life: your time, priorities, expenses, energy, maybe even your work life, will change. My own children arrived in pairs: first one set of twins followed, three years later, by a second set.
My life with God had always been focused on what I could give to Him. Yes, I knew that Jesus alone was my redemption, but I thought that following Him meant I should give everything in response to His sacrifice. And in the early years of motherhood that became my problem: I had nothing left to give, so how could God be happy with me?
Maybe you recognize this dilemma. Maybe you’ve also worried you’re not enough.
God is gentler than you think
Years ago, I heard someone teach that God has a special grace for mothers of young children. I’ve held onto those words. And the Bible says something similar:
He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
And carries them close to his heart;
He gently leads those that have young. (Isa. 40:11 NIV)
God is an attentive shepherd. He is actively carrying your children. He will ensure you are not left behind. He is sensitive to your needs and full of love for you in this season.
If you are feeling lost on the journey, be comforted, He is not lost; He will gently lead you on.
It may be time for a new measure
I used to think that following Jesus meant offering Him more and more of my time. When I had four preschool aged children, this felt like an impossible standard to measure up to. But (eventually) the constraints on my energy became a gift. I couldn’t be on every team. I couldn’t attend every meeting. God had to show me what was really at the heart of following Jesus.
John Ortberg puts it well in his book on spiritual disciplines The Life You’ve Always Wanted:
‘Am I growing in love for God and people?’ The real issue [in spiritual development] is what kind of people we are becoming. (Ortberg, 1997)
Am I growing in love – hadn’t my entire existence become an exercise in love? Motherhood has taught me more about love, both the ecstasies and the heartbreaks, than any other season in my life. I encourage you that it is motherhood, because of its constraints and challenges, that will grow you into a person who loves with the God’s love. Ask Him to do this in your life.
Constraints are a blessing
Stick with me! I promise you this is good news!
We live in a world that prizes freedom, agency and action. But you only need to take a walk with a toddler to realise that life with young children is distinctly lacking in freedom and agency. Caring for young children means living under constraints: they have (endless) needs, move slowly (or too quickly in the wrong direction!), and they do not understand our adult agendas. It’s stretching and often difficult.
I love what Paul says about how God uses difficulties: ‘[difficulty] produces perseverance, perseverance, character; and character, hope’ (Romans 5:4). Growth happens not despite the constraints, but because of the constraints.
If your difficulties have left you feeling hopeless, ask God to invite you into a new way of following Him.
I survived the early years, just about. But God used those years to build a better grounding for my spiritual walk with Him. Now when I stumble upon some new vulnerability, I remember that this too is a gift; this too can produce hope. I still look for His gentle leading.
Lindsay Osborne is a freelance writer and proofreader living in Wales. She has four children and a very helpful husband. When she's not glued to her laptop, you'll find her pottering in the garden or drinking coffee.