Where are We Placing our Hope, Moms?
It took about five seconds for bewilderment to set in. It was the first time I’d been to a Babies-R-Us. I was many months pregnant, and my husband and I went in to create a baby registry.
Every package, every sign, every shelf enticed: Successful parenting starts here.
There was the super high-tech car seat if you really wanted your baby to be safe. There was the fancy jogging stroller if you were truly a fit mom. There was the twice-the-price crib for parents who were actually committed to safe sleeping.
And it wasn’t just the big-ticket items either. We were overwhelmed by ecological diapers, organic baby food, and hypoallergenic creams. There were books telling us how to breastfeed or bottle feed, co-sleep or cry-to-sleep, vaccinate or not to vaccinate.
Every click of the scanning gun felt like an important decision. After all, we wanted what was best for our child.
If you’re a mom, especially if you struggle with being “Type A,” you know that bewilderment. You know that anxiety, the suffocation that says I’ve got to get this right, or my kid will be messed up. It starts at Babies-R-Us, but it persists into toddlerhood, the elementary school days, the awkward middle school years, and the pressure-packed, you’re-running-out-of-time, this-kid’s-about-to-launch teen years.
Looking past our strength
Chances are, you’d love some rest. And not just a solid two-hour nap this afternoon (though that does sound amazing and nothing short of miraculous). You’re likely longing for rest that is soul deep—the kind of rest that transcends the physical and comes from genuinely believing that everything is going to be OK.
The world tells us otherwise, and so does our flesh. The motherhood mantra of our day says do more, try harder, your kids’ success and future well-being is on you. And there is some truth to that. Motherhood is a good and hard calling. It is a gift, granted to us by our Creator. He has called us to steward our little ones well. Our job as moms is one of the most important we’ll ever have on this earth. It is worthy of our very best.
Motherhood is a ministry and a missional calling. Like Paul, we must “run in such a way as to get the prize” (1 Corinthians 9:24). It is right and good for you and me to toil, to teach our children, to do all that we can to present them as mature in Christ (Colossians 1:28-29). Like Paul, we work night and day (1 Thessalonians 2:9).
Yes, our relentless labors on behalf of our children are good and holy work. But—and this is really important‚—all of our efforts can quickly become as strangling and stifling as every must-have baby product in Babies-R-Us, if we put our hope in them alone. Our hard work cannot be the source of our confidence as moms.
Though we may pray for our babies daily from the time we know we’re pregnant or begin the adoption paperwork; though we may have a wonderful church family that helps us to raise our children in the Lord; though we may have the latest catechism book for preschoolers; though we may daily play Scripture lullabies, and nightly conduct family worship; though you and I may practice every good work on behalf of our children, we must not put our hope there.
Looking to Jesus
When Scripture calls us to “run with endurance the race set before us” (Hebrews 12:1), it does not include, “because the better your efforts, the better the outcome.” It does not say that success is dependent on you and me.
Rather, the Word of God says, as we run, we must “[look] to Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). It is Jesus who authored and perfects your faith and mine. And it is Jesus who will author and perfect the faith of your children and mine. Only Jesus. Fix your eyes on Jesus.
This afternoon, I really do hope you get that nap. You are physically tired for good reason. Motherhood is hard. But more than a nap, may you receive real rest. Soul rest. Rest that comes from Christ alone.
Today, know this: Our God is able. Our Father in heaven is kind and good and trustworthy. You and your children are so precious to him that he knows every hair on your head. He knows every hurt, every joy, every burden that you bear. And he does not stand far off. He sent his one and only Son to you—and not only to you, but to your children too.
The strong and capable hands that hold everything together (Colossians 1:17) are the same hands that hold you and your babies, and they’re the same hands that were nailed to a cross on our behalf 2,000 years ago. He is merciful and just and goes to every great length for our good and his glory. And—and—he is risen. Our God is alive and at work.
So moms, rest well today knowing that Christ is preeminent over all things (Colossians 1:18). That includes you, your motherhood journey, your children’s lives, and all that God will do in and through them in the days ahead.
Author’s Note: A version of this article first appeared here at ERLC.