I recently read that viral post from a woman judging other women who have chosen to raise families. And while it’s obvious that she wrote it just to go viral and get high traffic on her post, something she said stuck out to me because it’s always been my own struggling point: anyone can be a mom.
Maybe it’s just me, but I always wanted my life to be special. To do something no one else could do. To fulfill my potential, which would obviously be a huge blessing to the world. I wanted to be what no one else could be, like filling a void that I was created to fill. In other words, I wanted my life to count for something huge. (But of course, for the glory of God, and all the while hoping the pride exuding from my pores would be mistaken for that, you know, “obedience glow”.)
But while this sentiment is very American dreamish, it’s also very counter biblical.
Have you ever noticed that God doesn’t talk about our “potential”? He doesn’t give us a lot of big promises about the great things that we will do? He definitely gives us promises about the great things He will do, but that’s completely different. Notice that He doesn’t show us how to make a name for ourselves or become famous or admired in other people’s eyes? In fact, the story that comes to mind now is the Tower of Babel in Genesis, where He actually scattered the people all over the earth because their sole purpose was to become famous and be noticed apart from Him. No, God isn’t really concerned with us doing great things. He’s really concerned, however, with us becoming more like Christ.
And that’s where I’ve been thinking. I struggled for a long time over being called to motherhood. Why would God want me to devote my life to something anyone can do? Something so behind the scenes, something so un-glamorous? I’ll tell you why. Because, if being a servant was good enough for Jesus, then it definitely is good enough for me.
Think about it. Anyone can wash people’s feet. Which is why it was quite astonishing to the disciples when Jesus bent down to wash theirs – the God of heaven and earth washing dirty, stinky feet? I think about how bad Micah’s toenails can get after just a few days, and then I feel astonished too. Jesus understood our desire to really be something. And in response, to paraphrase with a kids’ song, He said, “If you want to be great in God’s kingdom, learn to be the servant of all.”
In our culture, making a name for ourselves is the end all. But to God, serving others with a cheerful and humble heart is. I can’t think of a more serving (and often less thankless) job than motherhood. It consists of wiping noses, washing dirty bodies, scrubbing floors, cooking, cleaning, and feeding. Not to mention, wiping bottoms, holding our kids’ hair or rubbing their backs while they throw up, sleepless nights, and often cleaning up questionable substances off of the floor, walls, their faces and hair.
Yes, anyone can do those things. But that’s not really the point. Jesus didn’t give the commandment to go and be unique and make a name for yourself. He gave everyone the same commandment: go, tell others about Him, and make disciples. In other words, go, give up your life for the sake of bringing others to know Him. For my life right now, this “go” often directs me within my house, and making disciples often pairs with cleaning my child ‘s face or hands or during discipline or while I’m cooking. In the act of serving my family, I get to point the way to Jesus. This – this – is the call of motherhood. Fatherhood. Parenthood. And this, by the very nature of the commandment – going and investing in people – is serving others by sacrificing our wants and desires for their sakes.
Having a job and succeeding in it is not wrong – that’s a huge blessing. But that in itself doesn’t determine worth. God calls us to be transformed from glory to glory, meaning becoming more and more like Jesus. For me, there is nothing more effective in challenging and transforming my character than motherhood. This is a good enough reason for me to accept it as a life calling, not even to mention the impact it has on my kids. God has called me to a life of service. Maybe He’s called you to the same kind of life. If we want to be great in His kingdom, it will often look less like us smiling on a pedestal and more like us scrubbing something off the floor. And that – sacrificing our lives for another person’s benefit – is, ironically, something that not everyone is willing to do. But it is something that is completely worthwhile.