Growing up I had dreams of what would happen in my future. As a little girl my dreams were filled with hopes of becoming a dolphin trainer at SeaWorld with an underground tunnel to my house on Tom Sawyer’s Island at Disneyland. Around 10, I dreamed of being a veterinarian who tested new icecream flavors. And as a young adult, my dreams became to travel and surf in different parts of the world. But my reality became far from any of that (although I feel like an animal trainer at times, so maybe that counts?). My reality became becoming a mom.
After I had my first baby, I knew that my life wasn’t about me anymore. I knew that caring for this precious child was the most important call I would ever have. But I wanted to go to school. I wanted to be a nurse. So I went to school. I became pregnant with our second child and school had to be put on hold, but I still wanted to work. So I worked more hours to fill in the gap of not going to school. By the time our third child was born, I was a stay-at-home-mom, but wanted to do something… anything than just stay at home. So I began to fill my time with things that I liked to do.
I remember being at a park one day, listening to a conversation between a few other moms. They were talking about how hard their lives as mothers were, how tired they were and how they couldn’t wait for their children to be old enough to go to preschool so that they could get things done. One of them looked at me and said, “You know what we are saying- you have three. You must never have time to do anything productive.” This short interaction stayed with me the rest of the day. Why did these moms dislike being a mom so much? Why were they complaining so much?
When we got home I put on a movie for the kids because I was going to sew a dress that I had been wanting to sew for weeks. As I was sewing, my youngest would not leave me alone. She needed help with something every ten seconds and needed a snack every five seconds in between. I remember getting so annoyed and short with my daughter. I remember thinking how unfair the situation was… for me. All I wanted to do was something productive and my kids were ruining it! Maybe life would be better if my kids were in school.
And the Lord said to me, “What if you just stopped believing being a mom is a sacrifice? What if you lived your life as if this is how I meant for you to live?”
I was confused, and offended. I thought He was at the wrong house and meant to say these things to the moms at the park. The ones who were complaining. And after a moment I understood. This situation with my kids was not a new one. Me trying to hurry my kids to naptime or to watch a movie so that I could be “productive” was more common than I would like to admit. Don’t get me wrong, they didn’t watch movies everyday and I didn’t ignore them. I spent all of my time with them. I enjoyed them. But there was always a piece missing. There was always a yearning and a need to be doing something more. My heart silently carried the feelings that the moms at the park were saying out loud. I had just never admitted it verbally. And in this moment of being frustrated with my daughter, God was calling me out. It didn’t feel good to admit that the log in my own eye was being exposed, but it freed me.
Seeing the log in my own eye, allowed me to be honest. I didn’t think being a mom was enough. I knew it was the most important thing that I could ever do, but I didn’t believe it was all God had intended for me for such a long season of life. There must be more. My gifts and my talents would go to waste by giving all of my time and energy into being a mom for such a long period of time.
Sacrifice. God said to me, “What if you just stopped believing being a mom is a sacrifice?” What does that even mean? I had to really pray about this for a long time. I have grown up hearing moms all around me saying, “I sacrificed my life for my children.” Mother’s Day cards are filled with thank yous from their children for their mom’s sacrificing their life for them. Husbands thank their wives for all of the sacrifices they make for their family. I have even thought things like, “One day, my children will appreciate my sacrifices.” And then it hit me.
We live in a culture that believes being a mom is a sacrifice to the life we were supposed to have.
I had been taught to believe that being a mom is a sacrifice. I had been taught that being a mom and giving all of my attention and focus was not how life was supposed to be. My kids were to be secondary to my talents. My kids were to be secondary to my wants. But this is all so contrary to the Bible. I cannot find anywhere in His Word that says being a mom is a sacrifice. I cannot find anywhere in the Bible that says our babies were ever going to sleep through the night from birth, or our children wouldn’t talk incessantly and ask a thousand questions a day. I cannot find in scripture where it says our children wouldn’t need to eat 9 times a day, or dishes wouldn’t need to be washed, or laundry wouldn’t need to be folded.
I cannot find where God ever says that our children would not need so much of our time if Eve had never eaten the fruit from the tree.
From the beginning of creation, God designed our time to be given to others. Before sin entered, His design was relationship and to fill the needs of others. Adam and Eve were to serve each other. Serving is not sacrificing. The time we give to our children is not a sacrifice because of sin. Our lack of sleep is not a sacrifice we make because of sin. Being a mom was always going to be a constant filling of needs. Being a mom was always going to come first before our talents and gifts. We are designed to choose others before ourselves.
But there is sin now. That’s what makes it so tricky. We are in a constant battle to choose what is right. And we live in a culture telling us constantly and so seductively that we can be more effective if we find something else to do, or add on to what we do. I had accepted that being productive meant adding more to the world outside of my home, than changing the world from within my home. I had accepted that I was sacrificing the life I was really meant to have, and it was wearing me down.
I found my victory in seeing my life through God’s eyes. I had to release this idea that I was somehow giving up a better life to follow Jesus. I know it’s just a word and who cares about a word. But the word sacrifice was meant to represent a life given up to atone for sin. To pay the price of sin. This word is of the highest regard.
Jesus was a sacrifice, not me, not you. Jesus.
I had to let go of believing that being a stay-at-home-mom was a sacrifice of my talents, or a sacrifice of money for my family. I had to let go of believing that not getting to read as many books as I would like, or sew as many things as I would like, or refurbish as many pieces of old furniture as I would like, is a sacrifice because I am a mom. Eve wouldn’t have had time for these things either, even in the perfect garden. In the perfect garden though, she would have peace of mind. She would have felt content with her call in life. In the perfect garden, we would know that everything we do as mothers is not a sacrifice, but is part of His plan from the beginning of His plans for us.
We give up selfishness and gain love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. We cannot call giving up selfishness, sacrifice. We cannot call making the right choices and doing His will a sacrifice. If we believe that we are sacrificing a part of us by being a mom, we do not fully believe our life is God’s.
Please know that I am not saying working is a bad thing, or hobbies are wrong to have, and if your kids are playing you should be on guard standing in front of them in case they need you. There is a difference between filling a void and filling a need. There was a time when I needed to work, and there was a time I just wanted to fill a void with work. There were times I was cramming hobbies into my life constantly to fill a missing piece, and now my hobbies fill a need. The difference is in the attitude of the heart.
When I started seeing my life through God’s eyes, I found contentment and peace. The missing part of my life that I thought was supposed to be filled with more productive things, simply needed to be filled with a piece of the perfect garden. The garden would have been just as constant, but in the constant there would have been contentment. And contentment always gives eyes to see what God sees. And He sees that walking with Him in the garden, hand in hand with our children asking what every plant is called, what every animal is named, and if it’s snack time yet, was how it was always supposed to be.
Today, allow the truths of your heart to be freed. Let God ask you, “What if you just stopped believing being a mom is a sacrifice? What if you lived your life as if this is how I meant for you to live?”
May your day be filled with a piece of the perfect garden!
“For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” (1 John 2:16-17)