This is a devotional I gave at my sister-in-law’s baby shower on Saturday.
As I’m sure you’ve already felt, beginning your family starts a seismic shift in your life.
For the past number of years, you’ve faced milestone decision after milestone decision.
- What college should I attend?
- What major should I pursue?
- Who will I marry?
- Is this the one?
- What sort of job should I look for? What job should I take?
- Where will we live?
- Should we buy a house? What house?
- When will we have a baby?
Now you have the degree, you’re married, you own a house, and you’re holding your first child.
It’s time for the calm, right? The coming of normality. Now starts the “real” rest of your life, what you’ve been building up to.
The good news is that the way life is right now is not your new normal. Waking up every three hours is only a temporary normal. Learning how to bounce a fussing baby just the way she likes is a short phase. In the scheme of things, even nursing is not going to last long. Sleep deprivation and hormonal flux are – we pray – not a new normal.
The bad news is that just as soon as you get something figured out, she will move on and you have a new thing to figure out. Depending on how quickly her siblings follow, you might soon realize there is no longer such a thing as normal because little ones’ patterns and habits and needs change so quickly.
Don’t be on the lookout for settling into normal. It will continue to elude you.
The good news is that God’s design for your life is just the same now as it was before she was born, before you were married, before you even went off to college. God’s will and path for you is your sanctification for His glory.
Motherhood is one avenue for sanctification – one of many, but a very effective and intensive one. All the phases that will come and go are double-edged means. They are calls on you to serve God by loving and discipling your children through them and they will be tools God uses to love and disciple you.
Motherhood is a calling, a way of serving God by serving the people He’s placed in our families, and He does with our work what He pleases – for our good, for our children’s good, for His glory.
What once startled me as I rocked a newborn Hans was realizing how often God uses the metaphor of fatherhood and family relationships for Himself and His relationship with us. Especially with that firstborn, we feel this sudden change in our position in the world. This tiny helpless person needs me for everything. Driving for the first time with that little guy in the back carseat felt as if I had never paid attention to driving before.
Motherhood is an intense path of sanctification because of how potent it is, how much it directly brings home God’s Word to us. God is our father. What does that really mean? It means I am as helpless to take care of myself as Abbie. It means just as you always return to feed her, change her diaper, so God tirelessly and faithfully takes care of our needs.
And, when we’re vomited on, when we have to clean excrement out of the bathtub, when we make meals every day and aren’t thanked for our efforts, we realize that the flip side of learning how God is a father is learning how we are like children. We are the thankless child. We are the petulant two-year-old who wants things our way. We are the helpless infants who can’t control our own bodily functions. And God cleans us up again and again and again. Ceaselessly, lovingly, patiently, even when we don’t realize what a mess we just made. Sometimes he shows us and makes us help clean it up. Sometimes he covers it entirely himself and we don’t even notice because we’ve already moved on to thinking about our next need. We’re just like infants.
Mothering is one path of sanctification. Our children are really like little mirrors. When we see ourselves in them we are able to handle them and life with more love and grace. When we deal with our own sin first before rushing in to squash their sin, we are not only better mothers, we are growing in sanctification, which is God’s will for us.
Your seismic life changes might be at an end, at least for a few decades. But the little, mundane changes and decisions and situations, day after day, matter just as much. They are the moments that build a life. Sins will make up a large part of that life. Your sins. Her sins. Your husband’s sins. Other people’s sins. But these are unending opportunities to forgive, to clean up, to repent.
May we all be given the grace we need to do that day in and day out, for the praise of His glory.
Our Father, we pray you will teach us all more about Yourself and more about our own need for You in the way we relate to those around us, whether it be our spouses, siblings, children, or friends. Help us to be quick to repent, quick to forgive, and quick to love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.