Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Value of Mothering

Have you ever noticed that our modern society tends to undervalue mothering?  Culture often overlooks the value of choosing to stay home with one’s children.  In fact, discussing the value of mothering is wandering into dangerous territory; even if words are chosen very, very carefully, the mere suggestion that full-time mothering is valuable and important can be misunderstood as being judgmental toward women who’ve made different choices.

Even in Christian culture, mothering is undervalued at times.  For example, we applaud those who make sacrifices to minister overseas, work with orphans or the impoverished, or other outreach/ministry.  And those things are indeed wonderful, admirable, and Christlike!  But, generally speaking, I have seen much less appreciation for women who make sacrifices in order to raise their children on a full-time basis– yet this is also admirable and Christlike.

I, too, have struggled to value my own role as a mother.  But the truth is, I have an opportunity to minister to my children.  As a parent, I am called to teach them about God and to love, comfort, guide, and disciple them in a way that reflects God’s heart toward us all.  That is a truly amazing thing– yet I have realized that I have valued it so little.  Even in the menial, repetitive tasks (doing laundry, washing dishes, sweeping floors, changing diapers), I am being given an opportunity to serve my family.  And yet I’ve found myself feeling as though that kind of ministry and service isn’t “good enough.”

I’ve spent so much time thinking that once the kids are in school, I can move on to my “real” calling, helping other people.  I hope to encourage people in their relationships with God, their children, and others.  This has been really important to me, and that isn’t a bad thing.  But suppose the only people I ever impact in a major way are my three children.  Would that be enough for me?  That is a “real” calling, too.

And I’ve recently realized a sobering truth: I have often valued loving, serving, and ministering to other people above loving, serving, and ministering to the little children God has put directly in my care.


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