Motherhood as Mission
My church is beginning 2014 by focusing on evangelism, and my question is this: where do mothers fit in? I sometimes feel frustrated that my life is ordered around my kids – ferrying them to and from school, helping with homework, making packed lunches, taking them to clubs and birthday parties – always putting their needs first. There is little time left to think about how I can be involved in outreach. What is my mission for this year?
I began to look at how motherhood is perceived in society today. When asked what you do, many mothers will say I’m just a mum. Even at church, I wonder if we underestimate the value of motherhood. Is more emphasis put on going rather than staying?
“I wanted to change the world, but I couldn’t find a babysitter”
As a Christian mother it is so easy to think that the work you are doing does not matter much and that if you were really doing something for Christ you would be out there somewhere else doing it. But is there a mission field at home?
I work on an adolescent unit catering for those with both medical and psychological needs. I’ve been on that ward for nearly 15 years now. Overdoses and self-harm used to be a rare occurrence, now most shifts I see children struggling to cope with life. Often these kids have poor role models in their parents, if they have either or both parents. I think there is an urgency to claw back what it means to be a mother, to reteach and regain the value of motherhood for the sake of the next generation. I have three kids and this is my mission for this season, to teach my children to love as God has loved them, so they can speak out for truth and justice and live Godly lives.
Whilst this vision is vital, living it out in the day to day can be hard. I need to lose the resentment that can come with motherhood. This is my sacrifice: to give wholeheartedly of myself. It can be easy to get caught up in the details of mothering, making sure there is food in the fridge, clean clothes, homework done; spending the day refereeing about who did what to who and whose turn it is next. The sacrifices we make every day are not made in a losing battle. They are the sacrifices of the victorious; they are the cost of a winning war.
At the heart of the gospel is sacrifice and there is perhaps no occupation in the world as intrinsically sacrificial as motherhood. God chose to present his son the most precious gift to the world out of a mother’s womb. That has a lot to say about the value he puts on mothers. Mary had the right perspective: she knew who God was, the Lord Almighty, and who she was, his servant. Mary knew the word of God. She saw her role as a mother as an honour and as a blessing.
My kids will often ask me “have you got any jobs to do?” before they ask me to play with them or give time to them. I sometimes wonder if they think I value getting my jobs done over them. I need to be like Mary, not Martha (Luke 10:38-42), choosing what is better. Jesus puts children first even when his disciples try to turn them away to protect Jesus after a busy day. “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them” Matt 19:14.
God, in Isaiah 49:15 even compares his love for Israel, to a mother’s love for their child. “Can a mother forget her baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne?”
There is something so strong and powerful about the love of a mother that imitates God’s love for his people. It is unconditional, endless, self-sacrificing, and beautiful. So rather than thinking “this it for the next ten to fifteen years…”, mothers can feel privileged in the task God has entrusted to us, shaping our children’s lives, teaching them to be good role models in a fallen world, to put others before them, to shine in the darkness and to learn to love even when it hurts.
My original title for this post was “motherhood and mission”, but I’ve come to the conclusion that you cannot separate the two. Motherhood is probably one of the hardest jobs I will ever do, but God has appointed me to it and he believes I can do it. He has given me endless resources to succeed.
 Ordinary Mum Extraordinary Mission” Anna France-Williams & Joy French (IVP 2013)