Generous motherhood.

April 2, 2014

(Thoughts from our mom’s group readings and discussions)

Motherhood is funny in some ways.  I’ve found that it simultaneously expands my heart and shrinks it.  It opens my perspective in some ways and shuts it in others.  At least, left to myself it does.  And as I continue through motherhood, I need to remember God’s generous heart and gospel love — not only to my child or my family but for others still, too.

In our mom’s group at church, we’ve been reading through Ed Welch’s book, Running Scared: Fear, Worry, and the God of Rest.  It’s been a nourishing, convicting read in this season.  This past week, we read about God’s generosity toward us, even while we distrust Him and hoard and claw for things for ourselves.  Ed Welch reminded us that we don’t have to live with a tight fist or I-need-to-watch-out-for-me-and-mine-because-no-one-else-will mentality because God deals generously with us.  Not that He gives us everything we want but He offers something — or rather Someone — better: Jesus.  The better Manna.

His plan is to liberate us from our defensive, hoarding, tight-fisted, miserly ways, and to teach us that when we have been given the kingdom — the kingdom! — stinginess is unnatural and unbecoming.  We might prefer a different strategy, but if God is molding us to be chips off the old block, His strategy makes sense.  It is exactly what we need, because need is to be what we were intended to be — to be like Him.

(Welch, pp. 133-134)

When we operate from that truth, we can open our hearts and our hands to others.

What does that have to do with motherhood?  In obvious ways, it makes me sacrificial toward my kiddo.  But as Ian grows, I see my heart shrivel in other ways.  Rather than becoming selfish for my child and hoarding for him, gospel love requires and enables me to open my heart to love and desire the best for other children, too.

I’ve found my selfishness manifest in wanting my kid to have the best and be the best.  But this isn’t gospel generosity.  Yes, I am primarily a steward of my own child, but God opens our hearts to steward our money, time, possessions, and gifts for others, too.  Sometimes maybe even at the expense of my child!  I realize there’s a danger in swinging too far to the other side and neglecting my child in so-called ministry and service acts, but of course I don’t mean this.  I mean that He calls us to stop being so shrivel-hearted that we never taste the joys and sorrows of others.  To stop being so myopic that we never rejoice in the successes of another child and feel their heartaches and failures, too.

I feel like motherhood is one area where it’s easy to justify selfishness on my child’s behalf.  “At least it’s not for me!” I think.

Oh, but isn’t it?  As I begin to view my child as an extension of myself and tie my successes and failures in with them (even my reputation as I think my child reflects on my parenting or my character), isn’t selfish mothering really just plain selfishness?

For me, it certainly is.  And may God cut off sin’s tentacle here, too.  Because only He can enable me to open my heart in any season.  To look beyond “me and mine.”  To see others.  To love them.  To pray for them.  To give to them.  To even think of them!  Even that is so hard sometimes as I pace circles around me and mine only.

He gave His only begotten son for us.  He adopted us into His family.  He opened his heart and gave lavishly to those who weren’t naturally His — namely, us.  So as part of His family, I now do this because it reflect my Father’s generous heart.  And His heart is for all children, not just mine!  I realize that’s obvious, but I guess I don’t always operate on the obvious.

And I can do this in little ways.  I can think of someone other than my own kid when I’m out shopping.  I can help another child “win.”  I can sometimes sacrifice nap schedules and choose to serve another rather than my child’s sleep and the clock.  Rather than hoarding my child’s time (as he grows older), I can release him for ministry.  Maybe one day I can release him for mission work that will take him far away from home (not easy!).  I can rather give of me and mine for the betterment of others.  By God’s grace.  Because this points beyond the natural to a supernatural love.

It points away from me and mine; it points to God and His.  Which is infinitely better.  For all of us.

God, open this selfish mother’s heart.  That my heart and hands would stretch beyond my little world and see Your kingdom’s priorities in this world.  Give me a heart that advocates children other than my own.  Give me a heart that declares, “All is Yours!  All is for You!”

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