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Monday, April 30, 2012

A Perspective on Motherhood

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength." Mark 12:30

If you're anything like me, you see raising your children as the most important job you'll ever have. After all, what they learn from you goes on generation after generation; be it simple traditions or convictions fundamental to the family's identity.

My Granny baked a simple dessert we all loved - Hungarian Fruit Squares. It was made on a cookie sheet with a crust similar to a sugar cookie-shortbread combination, spread evenly with canned fruit topping and a pretty dough lattice top. Blueberry was my favorite flavor, but she also made cherry and my aunt now makes it with fresh apples. It's now being made for my grandchildren to enjoy. In-laws all along the way have loved it as well.

My mother passed that recipe on, but more important than the recipes are the lessons she taught us. They're part of who I am, and not neatly documented on a butter-stained recipe card. Their impact is much more significant, however.

So, yes, motherhood is worth doing to the best of your ability. Children are entrusted to us by our Maker. Raising them requires a ton of self sacrifice and effort. Sometimes it's a labor of love and others a labor completed through nothing less than God-given strength. But sometimes it twists into a form of idolatry.

WHAT?!?! Yes, I said idolatry, and I meant it. An excessive devotion to our children becomes the driving force in our life, not God's will. Growing and developing ourselves beyond the umbrella of motherhood seems almost unfaithful, and we tune out any possibility that we are called to do just that.

An ungodly love for our material blessings is obvious. If we defined our identity as "owner of these material blessings God gave to me", we'd choke on the words. Yet, mothers do so all the time. We reach the end of our child rearing years and struggle to figure out who we are. We have no sense of individual identity, and never consider this isn't the way it should be. Motherhood consumed our identity, like any other false god would do.

If we love my children with all my heart, and with all my soul, and with all my mind, and with all my strength - we've given to them God's portion of us. Not only do we idolize them, but we interfere with God's provision for them.

When I struggle, I turn to God. In my sad, lonely, broke, frustrated, confused, angry and lost moments, God gives me peace that passes understanding. His spirit is my counselor, comforter, friend and physician. He intends for me to trust and depend on Him.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you. (I Peter 5:6-7)

What I receive when I go to Him is His response. Our relationship develops into something extraordinary. His wisdom and mercy heal whatever brokenness I am going through.

I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; from whence shall my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1-2

As a mother, we must be examples of women in relationship with God. That relationship requires responding to God's leading in our lives, according to His will. It cannot be a relationship that is peripheral to the center stage of our children.