My phone dinged and I looked down to see a Facebook message from a dear friend. She reached out in her exhaustion and guilt from yelling and snapping less-than-honorable words at her three young kids. She felt ashamed for feeding her kids fast food—again. She felt judged by church members because she came to an event in her workout clothes without make-up (and forgot to brush her teeth). And then she said the words I have told myself before, “I used to do ministry and things that mattered.”
I laughed at the message. Not a laugh that thinks it’s funny, but a laugh mixed with tears that is so thankful another mommy—another mommy that I think is a rock star and loves Jesus and her family—feels, does, and thinks the same as me.
You see, just a few weeks ago I was the mom spent, exhausted, yelling and saying things I thought I would never say to my children—the ones I pray for and hope love Jesus some day—I would then go into my closet and cry out of deep pain and shame. I too felt like I am the worst mom in the world and I can’t hang on. How can I love my kids well? “I use to do ministry and things that mattered.”
I was never going to write this for fear of being judged myself by other mommies that somehow seem to grace through all the challenges, fears, tantrums, and rebellion with dollops of calm and servings of Bible verses. But here it is mamas: we are not perfect. Yep. My Facebook posts of happy faces don’t include the occasional pushing that happens second after. Of course, motherhood is full of wonderful joy and every day moments I sip slowly, hoping I will never forget—like when we pick up Kavin from school and Judah says, “It’s me, my Kavin!”
But there are those days—sometimes weeks—when I have nothing left and I don’t know what to do and I feel like screaming… and do.
In those days I don’t need a Bible verse to tell me how I should be “training up a child in the way he should go”, I need a Bible verse that tells me “You understand my thoughts from afar.” I need to know God is with me and not against me like I am against myself at times. I need His love, not Christianese 12-steps to be a super mom. Because I do everything I can to be a super mom, but some days I feel like the villain.
I need grace and a vision.
The reality is, I have given my life over the Jesus. I love Him with all I am and He has placed me here for His glory: in the ministry of motherhood. My place is not the unreached people of China (where I hoped he was sending us years ago), but the small quarters of a simple apartment living the dream of following Jesus’ call on our lives to love Him and love others—the call all of us have. My kids aren’t dangerous tribal warriors; they are my hooligans that need Jesus’ love just as much. God assigned me my place in his kingdom as a mother and wife. It is not all of me and is not all I will be involved with for the kingdom, but is ministry. This is His life, His purpose, His plan, and His assignment. Washing the dishes for my kids is just as much ministry as washing the dishes in the soup kitchen.
God gave me a picture for my vision and it helps me in the moments I feel most undone: an acorn.
Right now there are hundreds of acorns in the parking lot of our apartment. Judah stops, bends over, and says, “Acorn!” as if he has discovered them for the first time when we stroll to and from the car. I have learned to give us extra time. One such encounter, I too saw the acorn as if for the first time. But in my image, the acorn was buried under ground, broken and undone, dissolving into the earth. Then, a shoot pokes through the ground. Then, a sapling, young tree, then into a towering oak. And the thought forms, “Motherhood is living life like an acorn. We offer all of ourselves to the process, dying to ourselves every day, in hopes that a mighty oak will live beyond our years.”
The acorn never sees the oak. The oak never sees the acorn.
Motherhood is a job of faith. Faith in the substance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen (Heb. 11:1). We hope for our children, and their children, and their children. What we do now, we will never see the results this side of heaven.
But dear mama friend, “THIS is ministry and THIS matters.”