What do we do when motherhood demands sacrifice and service? The other night we had an all-nighter; not the self-inflicted kind I remember from yester-year; not the result of work left until the last minute, nor (sadly) because of a great celebration! Our youngest little one was vomiting for most of the night. Two nights on, and we had a repeat of the whole thing with our three-year old. A few days later, I was down…Not quite the picture of motherhood I had in mind.
A Pathway To Sacrifice and Service
Now, I am very aware that for some mothers, the all-nighters from colicky babies or sick children are more the norm than the exception, so I recognise that this experience is mild in comparison. I tell you about it simply because in between clean up ‘shifts’ and efforts not to grumble and delve into self-pity, I reflected on how motherhood, in fact parenthood, is really a pathway to putting others first… always. Every minute of the day, even the minutes between 12am and 4am, it’s my life, my money, my time, my body, my food, my sleep… for yours!
It begins before we’re even aware of it. When a woman falls pregnant, her organs shift a little higher up every week to make space for this growing life. God has so wisely created our bodies to shift seamlessly into sacrifice and service. Why is it then that after the ‘honeymoon’ period, our hearts seem to take forever to shift into gear?
A Platform To See How Utterly Selfish Our Hearts Are
Three’s a crowd? Truth be told, even two’s a crowd when we’re called to hold another’s interests as more important than our own. When my husband and I got married, we were told that sharing a life together would be a platform to see how utterly selfish our hearts are, more so than we’d probably noticed before. That certainly was the case. In our experience the same can be said when it comes to having babies… only, on steroids!
No matter how easy or colicky the baby, how compliant or rebellious the toddler, your ‘wants’ and ‘needs’ and ‘creature comforts’ as individuals, and obviously as a couple, come last. In our experience of God’s kindness, the love He has placed in our hearts has at times made it feel easy as pie to deny ourselves for one of these precious little people – but certainly not all the time! As we find our lives characterized by daily sacrifice and service, an exhaustion and resentment can start to grow in our hearts. And whilst we probably see much of that reflected in our speech and attitudes toward our children, it undoubtedly causes distance and difficulty towards one another in marriage.
We Turn To Him For The Enabling Power To Live
Getting married and having a family is such a wonderful gift and blessing from the Lord. However, it does not bring the contentment nor the fulfilment that can only be found in a relationship with him. In fact, marriage and family are both gifts that point to him. The family unit is another one of God’s genius designs for proclaiming His wonderful salvation available in Jesus! When we love and respect our husbands and teach and train our children, we are pointing them to Jesus. Even the watching world gets a glimpse of our God; His goodness, wisdom and rescue mission.
When we love and respect our husbands and teach and train our children, we are pointing them to Jesus. Even the watching world gets a glimpse of our God;
If we know and belong to Jesus, our behaviour needs to show it, and for married women this looks like being taught and trained “to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands.” Why? According to Titus 2:5 “so that no-one will malign the word of God”; and in Titus 2:10 “so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Saviour attractive.” Take a look at Ephesians 5 and Titus 1 & 2 to read more!
Marriage and family are God’s idea, and so we turn to him for the enabling power to live life his way; life lived the good way – in fact, the best way. Titus tells us “our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ… gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” (Titus 2:13-14).
Not More Than Our King But Just Like Him
Jesus gave himself for you. Sacrifice and service is tough, and I believe motherhood requires at times the deepest levels of selflessness we might ever know. But no matter how much we practice sacrifice and service, we will never have served and sacrificed more than our king Jesus. Fix your eyes on him. Imitate his example. Draw your strength from him. Pray for wisdom, pray for more of his unlimited patience and then pray some more! Trust his promises and his endless goodness. “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-24).
But no matter how much we practice sacrifice and service, we will never have served and sacrificed more than our king Jesus.
As Emily Jensen writes in her book Risen Motherhood: “Because while service with littles in tow is harder than it used to be, I trust that God uses it to plant seeds of generosity, kindness, and selflessness in their lives. I trust that God will use it to help them see how we can be the tangible hands and feet of Christ.” So, we not only see our king as the ultimate testimony of a parent, in our own sacrifice and service we reveal Christ to our children. When motherhood demands sacrifice and service, remember we will never give more than our king, but we are being just like him.