Want to sit down and have a cup of coffee? - because any blog that has "Part 1" in its title ought to come with coffee. :)
(And I want to say at the start: this blog series isn’t comprehensive, not in any sense,
and I’m not pretending it is.*)
In this series, my focus is on what many of us experience: getting
married and having kids. This is the path a lot of us take, and so it's worth
looking at it. Most of us marry rather than burn, and the result of sex is
kids. Fairly often, anyway.
Given that, what does that mean for Christian women? It means that our
primary vocations, often, will be that of wife and mother.
And this isn't a bad thing.
In fact, this is a normal path for sanctification. Marriage and
child-rearing require self-sacrifice and that's good. It doesn't feel
good, but it is good.
I'm not sure I know another way to say it . . . I just know it needs to be
said. Yes, it's hard. Yes, you have to give things up. Yes, you get an infinite
Your sphere of influence will be abruptly contracted and so will your
choices. You chose this one thing (and in our culture, it was your choice - now
there's a mercy and a judgment!) and that meant you didn't choose every
other thing in the world.**
And you have to be faithful to the vocation to which you've been called.
Yes, called, even though you chose it. Did you really know what you were choosing?
No, probably not. We never do. We're human, which means we're finite. Which
means we're stupid. (Cosmically speaking, anyway.)
You didn't know it would be so hard, and that you'd be so tired, and that
you'd be so angry, so often. So, so often.
But it happens to men too, it happens to single people too, it happens to
everyone. Everyone chooses one thing and not every other thing. Everyone has to
deal with the consequences of their choices and the loss of freedom that
But there's a new kind of freedom that comes after the choice: the freedom
to be faithful. Once you know what you're supposed to be doing, you're free to
do it well. You're freed to do it with your whole heart. You're
freed to do it faithfully.***
Which is just glorious.
So, that first: being a wife and a mother is normal and good. Your biology
is destiny, in one way. You were made to do this. You were made to bear and to
nurture. You were made to give of yourself. You were made to be the strong and
sturdy trellis these baby plants could cling to as they grow towards the sun.
You were made to provide structure and peace around their nutty energy. You
were made to soothe and comfort and feed and protect. This is normal. This is
And when people say it's not, they're lying.
Yes, you can't do everything you want. You can't have it all. Being a mother
means that where you're going to spend the majority of your time and energy for
the next twenty years is now determined, and you don't have the potential you
used to, and you can't "have it all".
But no one can. No one can.
And motherhood, if you receive it as from the Lord, if you take it as from
His hands, will give you opportunity after opportunity to grow in holiness. It
will give you practice in giving grace - over and over - and in opening
yourself up to receive it in turn. It can teach you the practice, the constant
practice, of turning your face towards the Father to receive from Him the love
that you need. And then you can turn and give it to your children. And then
receive again - because you don't have enough of yourself, and motherhood
teaches you how finite and small and fragile you are - how much you need the
And how much He gives of Himself to you. How He is ever-present,
ever-sufficient, ever-kind. How He loves you through His own presence, and
through the presence of your husband, and of your family, and of your church,
and of your friends. Christ in every face that greets you with kindness. Christ
being formed in your children. Christ when you are in tears for fear of their
lives or of their souls. Christ when you're so tired you wish you never had to
wake up. Christ always present, always.
This is a grace that I am sure is available in every vocation, but that I know
is present in motherhood.
It should not be despised.
(Stay tuned for Part 2, tomorrow . . .)
* My experience is that of a married woman who didn’t struggle with her
fertility. I know that means there are a lot of people this series of essays
just can’t address. I'm writing under the assumption mothering is one of the
normative vocations for Christian women. But there are other paths; those other paths exist and they matter and many good people who are not me are
writing good things about them. (Try this blog, or this one, just as a start.)
**I learned this from Elena.
***This is what discipline does: it allows for freedom. Think of how working
out regularly allows you take a hike in the gorgeous fall weather without
getting out of breath. Think of how practicing scales gives you the freedom to
interpret a piece by Bach. It is the boundaries of discipline and choice –
choosing “this” and not “that” - that allow for freedom!