The following article is a guest post by Rebecca VanDoodewaard, author of Uprooted: A Guide for Homesick Christians, Your Future ‘Other Half’: It Matters Whom You Marry, and Reformation Women: Sixteenth-Century Figures Who Shaped Christianity's Rebirth.
A lot of young women around me are expecting: about a dozen have recently had or are about to have a baby. As I have talked with some of them about motherhood, the identity that underpins motherhood has become more precious. There is something more fundamental than motherhood. If you are a Christian mother, you are also a child. The identity of “mother” is a beautiful one, it is a gift from the Lord, but it is an identity that is tied to this life. There was a time before we were mothers, and there will be a time when we will no longer be mothers. But our identity as children of a heavenly Father is eternal. This identity also has massive implications for motherhood. Here are five, short things that are true for Christian mothers.
The fact that we are children means that we have a Father who understands us. People don’t always understand us, and this is especially true if we are living in a different culture, have no family in town, or are just dealing with pregnancy hormones and new sleep deprivation. The Lord understands. He also made us when we were in our mother’s wombs (Psalm 139), He knows what it’s like to be human in his work of salvation, and He has a complete picture of all the factors in our lives. He knows what motivates us, what saddens us, when the baby isn’t sleeping, when we are worrying—He knows the things that burden us. When our husbands don’t understand us—when we don’t understand ourselves!—our Father does. More than the best mother, the Lord understands His children.
The fact that we are children means that we have a Father who listens to us. We spend a lot of time listening to our children, don’t we? Sometimes we can get tired of it: we want adult conversation, or just some peace and quiet. God isn’t like us. He never gets tired of His children coming to Him in prayer with our needs, insecurities, and fears, as well as joys and thanksgivings. Even when we ramble and repeat and don’t say the right thing, He hears us. Whatever it is, big or little, we can take it to the Lord in prayer as He has told us to do. He loves to have His children come and tell Him everything.
The fact that we are children means that we have a Father with answers. Our kids ask us lots of questions, don’t they? These questions can be funny, frustrating, or tough. From “Why is snow cold?” to “Why is Russia invading?” to “What does Trinity mean?” We don’t always have the answers. And as mothers, we have our own questions: “How can I pray for this child?” to “How should we educate her?” to “What discipline is biblical?” Our Father has given us His Word and Spirit as well as His church, and we can mother our children knowing that when we have questions, our Father has answers.
The fact that we are children means that we have a Father whom we’re accountable to. Sometimes, I forget that my kids are not my kids first, and I start behaving as though I’m the ultimate authority. But my kids are the Lord’s. My children are “on loan” to me, and I will answer for how I teach them, discipline them, lead them, and love them. To children, adults look powerful and in control. But we’re dependent beings, certainly not in control of what’s around us. We may be in charge of some things, but we are just stewards. There will be an evaluation of what we have done with our Father’s children.
The fact that we are children means that we have a Father who will carry us. When one of my kids was a baby, I was sitting in my grandmother’s living room, listening to her talk about when her children were little: “I remember being so tired, it felt like my arms were going to fall off!” Parenting quickly brings us to our limits. Like few other things, motherhood is humbling. It shows us our sins (some of them, at least!). It exposes our own weaknesses. Our faults come through. God’s Fatherhood has none of that. It is all strength, shown as tenderness to His children. He has promised to: “save your people and bless your heritage! Be their shepherd and carry them forever” (Psalm 28:9). “He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young” (Is. 40:11).
And for mothers who no longer have babies, but mother in other ways, there is still the Father’s promise: “…even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save” (Is. 46:4).