No Harm Done

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Great Expectations

A couple of years ago I was asked to give the devotion at a baby shower for a woman in our church. I couldn't really think of anything significant to say about babies, and ended up speaking about how our expectations of motherhood often fall short of reality.

Here is the text, and a copy of a picture I held up for everyone to read. Try to imagine me reading this out loud, while simultaneously trying not to pass out and attempting to hide my shaking hands.

Happy Mother's Day!


Great Expectations
No one’s ever asked me to do a devotional before, so - as a disclaimer, and in the interest of full disclosure - I need to make the following things clear:

1. Know that you are listening to a mother who has given her oldest son a reverse Mohawk while trying to cut his hair.

3. A mother who, failing to get the attention of the lifeguard on duty, jumped fully-clothed into a YMCA pool to save her 2 year old whom she thought was drowning.

I’m sure you’re beginning to understand why no one’s ever asked me to give a devotional before.

Also, know that all of my children are under 13, and so much of my parenting perspective revolves around younger children. But I’ve always appreciated hearing from mothers who are a few steps ahead on the journey.

God’s View of Motherhood
Throughout the Bible, God exalts motherhood: Sarah, Rachel, Jochebed, Deborah, Ruth, Elizabeth and Mary. Scripture makes it clear that motherhood is a great and wonderful thing.

Over and over the Bible communicates that children are a blessing and a gift:
Psa 127:3-4 Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one's youth.

Genesis 4:1, Eve "conceived and bore Cain and said, ‘I have gotten a man from the Lord.’" At the very beginning, Eve knew who was the source of her children. They are gifts from God.

Children," says the Old Testament, "are a heritage from the Lord."

Expectations of Parenthood
We have in our heads, consciously or unconsciously, our own images and expectations of motherhood. We may remember our mothers and plan what we will do similarly or differently from them. We may spend the months of pregnancy planning the nursery, closely observing friends and family members with children, and imagining what our lives will be like when this new life is added.

But no matter how much you read beforehand or plan ahead, you still find yourself home from the hospital with a little one who is completely dependent upon you, thinking, “Now what do I do?” or “Will I ever sleep again?”

Beforehand, you think you’re prepared. You think you have an idea of what parenthood is like. But your imaginings usually have little in common with reality. At times like that, and there will be many of them, a sense of humor will be your greatest asset.

We’ve been working on Brogan’s first grade reading and writing skills this year. I’ve been anxious for him to begin writing sentences. Real sentences. Not sentences that I’ve dictated to him, but ones that he’s generated himself.

I remember when my sister and brother were in this stage, and they wrote cute little notes to Mom like “I luv yoo,” with all of the phonetic misspellings expected. Things of that nature. It was sweet and adorable. I was eagerly awaiting that with Brogan.

A couple of weeks ago, that moment finally arrived, and Brogan was so proud of his first sentence that he had to show it to me:

Now, if Brogan had been my first child, I’m sure I would’ve felt a twinge of disappointment and letdown with this reality that didn’t quite meet my expectations. But at this point in my parenting journey, I just thought, “At least it’s spelled correctly.”

Preparing children for God
Our priority as mothers is to be evangelists in our homes. We need to teach our children God’s law, show them their need for a Savior, and then point them to Jesus as the only one who can save them. We need to teach them the Gospel clearly and pray for God to regenerate their hearts.

When we’re new parents, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and pressured about this calling as mothers. But remember that when God chose Moses and David, He chose shepherds, men who had been prepared for the tough assignment of leading God’s people by leading sheep. God has lent us His children for a short time, so that we may train them for Him. "The job of a mother," as someone has said, "is giving saints to God."

Mothering Changes ME
The most surprising thing about motherhood is how it changes us. I think we never realize how selfish we really are until we have children. Motherhood also changes our perspective of God and His discipline.

When we discipline our children it upsets them and hurts us, but we are training children for God’s kingdom. But training requires discipline.

I’m going to read a short passage from Hebrews 12:
" 'MY SON, DO NOT REGARD LIGHTLY THE DISCIPLINE OF THE LORD, NOR FAINT WHEN YOU ARE REPROVED BY HIM;

"FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES, AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES.'

"It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom {his} father does not discipline?

"But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.


"Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live?

"For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He {disciplines us} for {our} good, so that we may share His holiness.

"All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterward it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. "

Any father who truly loves and delights in his child will discipline him, reprove him, and correct him. Knowing that our discipline comes from a God who loves us and delights in us, should change our response and enable us to feel secure in His love and sovereignty.

In Hebrews 12, God shows us how valuable His discipline is. I want my children to value discipline as well. Recently, during a trip to WalMart, I had opportunity to bless my children with discipline.

We had run errands in town. The boys behaved very nicely until we got to WalMart. Something about WalMart brings out their inner rascals, and I spent much of the time working on behavior issues instead of getting the shopping done.

Near the end of our trip, I saw Colson sitting in the cart with his head bowed, eyes closed, and hands folded. "How precious," I sighed to myself.

When Colson finished praying, he very seriously said, "I was praying that God would make you a nice mommy."

Hopefully Colson was right, and that God is changing me into a nicer mommy. This world is the proving ground for Heaven. While here, God shapes us and changes us through interactions with people and experiences. We have a God-given responsibility to train our children for the Lord, and we are growing along with our children. All the time we’re working, He’s changing us. Through the process of raising children we are blessed with images and insight in the Lord that we wouldn’t have otherwise.

3 Comments:

At 7:14 PM , Blogger Shauna said...

Hi Hillary! I really enjoyed this at the shower, and I just enjoyed reading it again! Thanks for posting! Happy Mother's Day!

 
At 9:08 AM , Blogger Matt Mikalatos said...

Maybe Brogan misspelled "Phat!"

Great post. We had a good Mother's Day service at church complete with moving video about moms everywhere.

As I recall on Father's Day we had a convicting sermon about how Dads need to work harder at being good dads. Hmmm....

Happy Mother's Day...

 
At 1:47 AM , Anonymous Jeannie said...

Thanks Hillary. I really needed to read this! I laughed, I felt truth, and I'm so grateful that someone else is raising brutally honest children as well! :)

 

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