We all want to be a “fun mom,” don’t we? Despite our greatest efforts to do so, we often fall short.
There are many types of mothers. Some are loving but nagging, others are ambivalent. Still others have the best of intentions, but cannot help but seeing their children as necessary to their own happiness.
With the rearing of our own 15 children, a certain phrase originally spoken by John the Baptist has often been in the back of my mind:
He must increase, I must decrease.
I have learned that the children I have reared have never belonged to me. They have been on loan, and I have been His surrogate; His foster parent.
In Psalm 127 verse 3:
Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
I originally took this to mean God gives us a heritage and a reward in our children, and this is partly true. But, as I have meditated on this Psalm for the last 35 years or so, I have come to understand that this verse primarily means that children are God’s heritage and God’s reward.
Our children do not exist for our needs. This is the “child as pet” model of modernity. In this model motherhood is seen less as a call to selfless service, and more of an “experience.”
Instead of seeing ourselves as vessels for God to bring His persons into the earth through, we must have “all the things” as our rights as women…
The ultrasounds, gender reveal parties, baby showers, etc. are all part of this package, but there is much, much more. None of these things are necessarily bad, unless we forget that its not Mom who knit this baby together, it is God.
Our babies exist for HIM.
In this understanding, pregnancy, childbirth, and child-rearing are things we offer to God as our holy service. Our children don’t belong to us like a business we’ve built or a dress we’ve sewn. We do not create them. God creates them, and they belong to Him.
He loans them to us and charges us with their safety and well-being, even their molding to a certain extent.
But they are to us as Adam and Eve were to God–separate beings from us and fully capable of making decisions that mostly will not take us into consideration–as it should be.
It takes love and self-sacrifice to mother properly–and some of this is so deep it’s absolutely spiritual.
But it also means holding our children at arm’s-length in order to get out of the way and let God have His creation.
Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist, understood this. Can you imagine if she lived today? She waited all of her life until old age to have a son–and he ends up living like a crazy man in the desert. No Ivy League education, nothing to brag about to her friends and relatives. He was just a wild man yelling to important religious leaders to repent, and eventually being beheaded by the head of state.
Social media would be all abuzz with stories of the hyper-religious, misguided upbringing which brought him to his fateful end.
Did Elizabeth hide her face in shame, with an embittered heart mourning all the favors and honor she never received? Or was she a servant who gave her life for God and His intentions?
It would seem Mary, the mother of Jesus, did not have a handle on her role at first. She and Jesus’ brothers were grieved by His erratic behavior and were poised to do a family “intervention” in Mark chapter three.
Can we do a better job? Can we let go and let God have them?
If we do, it’s much more fun. If we’re not always worried or frightened by every action or influence, we can enjoy them more in the moment.
While we teach and train them in the ways of God, we give them wiggle room to have their own relationship with Him. Which leaves us time and energy to have our own relationship with Him.
As the children grow, it’s the example of our own walk with Jesus that is just as important than our lectures and directives. Allowing our children to have freedom is the greatest example of our close walk with Jesus.
It’s not about preserving our own reputations or goals or “feelings,” but about their well being, their success for their own sake (and God’s). Then they feel less like pushing away and more relaxed around us. We end up having more influence instead of less.
When they triumph, we are happy, but we realize we didn’t actually have that much to do with it. It would sort of be like a future king arriving to be coronated and the people praising the carriage he arrived in. Yes, the carriage has all the bells and whistles and is gilded and glittering, but it’s not about the carriage–the carriage was merely a conveyance for the majesty.
And so are we.
This is where we take on the gentleness of Christ. He knows what’s best for us, and He wants us to listen for our own good (and the good of others), but He is meek and humble and has no ego. So He doesn’t push, He stands at the door and knocks. He doesn’t barge in, He waits to be invited in.
So, we set our children free, and we become free–free to love, and counsel, even correct, but in the liberty Jesus bought for us.
Instead of being naggy, haggy, and draggy–we get to relax and be FUN!
Whenever we start getting worried about our children as they venture farther away from the nest, we can stand on Isaiah 54:13:
All your children shall be taught of the LORD, and great shall be the peace of your children.
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