Motherhood

When “Motherhood is a Woman’s Highest Calling” Backfires

By:  Rebekah Hargravesrebekah hargraves

When I was a little girl, all I ever wanted to be when I grew up was a mommy (well, and a “cooker”, as I apparently said one time!). I always dreamed of having little ones of my own, wanted to be a stay-at-home mom just as my own mom was, babysat all throughout my teen years, and even was a nanny up until the day before I went into labor with my first baby. I guess you could say I’ve always been passionate about motherhood. Now as a mama to my own two little ones ages 2 1/2 and 10 months and the author of a book on motherhood, I am still passionate about this calling of mom, but in a slightly different way.

What may come as a surprise to some is that I began Lies Moms Believe (And How the Gospel Refutes Them) with a chapter entitled “Lie #1: Motherhood is a Woman’s Highest Calling”. Considering my background, that doesn’t quite sound like something I would write, does it? Though I am just as passionate as I have ever been about  the beauty and importance of motherhood and the truth that it is a high and holy calling, I nevertheless no longer hold to the idea that motherhood is a woman’s *highest* calling. In fact, I believe there are actually some adverse ramifications which stem from this idea.

The passion of my heart is to draw women back to the Word of God, to help them see just how very relevant and applicable it truly is to each and every struggle, question, or lie they could ever face in life. We need to be looking solely to the Word of God for the basis of our every belief, the forming of every aspect of our worldview, and the truth we need for our daily lives. This is certainly true in the case of the idea that “motherhood is a woman’s highest calling”. What began with very good intentions (i.e. an effort to counter the culture’s lies that about mothering not being a worthwhile endeavor and motherhood being unimportant and not something to be pursued) has inadvertently produced some unfortunate results in the process.

At this point you may be wondering, “What’s the big deal?” In a culture which disdains children and motherhood, what’s so wrong with proclaiming motherhood to be a woman’s highest calling? Well besides that being a painful and unfair sentiment for a single or barren woman to hear, that idea also leads to problems for women who are mothers.

 

How “Motherhood is a Woman’s Highest Calling” Actually Harms Moms

At face value, there may appear to be nothing wrong with the concept of motherhood as being a woman’s highest calling. There are, however, several issues with this idea:

  • When we believe motherhood to be a woman’s highest calling, we begin to think mothering should crowd out everything else (and allow it to do so!).

We all know firsthand just how pervasive mommy guilt can be – we experience it whenever we attempt to have some “me-time”, we feel it anytime we pursue our own hobbies or interests, we get weighed down by it when we drop the kiddos off at their grandparents’ house so we can go out with our husbands. This is because we have bought into the mistaken idea that all our time and attention should always be focused on our children. Now, don’t get me wrong – if you are a mother, I firmly believe that apart from the Lord and your relationship with your husband which should come first, your children are to be your #1 priority. You should be putting intentional time and attention into mothering them well. It is wrong, however, to believe that you have only been given time for those things which strictly pertain to motherhood. This is what we begin to believe, however, when we believe motherhood to be a woman’s ultimate highest calling – our relationship with the Lord gets put on the back burner, our kids replace our husbands in our order of priorities, and everything suffers as a result.

 

  • When we believe motherhood is a woman’s highest calling, our identity gets wrapped up in motherhood.

When moms believe motherhood is to take up all their time and attention, they end up forgetting who they are and who God created them to be. We hear so many times moms say something to the effect of, “I can’t remember that girl I was in high school.” or “I feel like the woman I was before I had kids is gone.” or “I can’t even remember the interests or passions I had before the kids came.” This is what happens when we allow our identity to be wrapped up solely in who we are as moms. This does nothing but lead to our burning the candle at both ends and becoming chronically stressed out and depleted.

When we instead remember that our identity is to be found in the reality of our being image bearers of God and redeemed saints through Christ, everything changes. We begin to remember again the woman God originally created us to be, the woman with unique and specific passions, gifts, talents, and interests. The woman who has God-given permission to pursue those things, even in the midst of motherhood (see Proverbs 31:10-31 and 1 Corinthians 12). When we are careful to, yes, prioritize our children and to delight in the sacred calling of motherhood, but to also live life as the multi-faceted, whole woman we were designed to be, we flourish – and so do our families!

 

  • When we believe motherhood is a woman’s highest calling, motherhood actually loses its very importance and purpose.

 

The ironic thing is that, in a valiant effort to restore to motherhood its importance and worth, we have actually deprived it of both. We want the culture to understand that it is a beautiful thing (and a worthwhile endeavor!) to be a mother, but when we separate motherhood from its God-given role, instead placing it on a higher plane than God does, it becomes stripped of its high purpose. Here is what I mean: As I touched on above, our identity as Christian women is to be found in our being image-bearers of God and ambassadors of Christ. In reality, this is not only our identity, but our true highest calling, as well. A woman’s highest calling is to bear the image of God to the world and to represent Christ well. Motherhood, then, becomes an outworking of this, one important and impactful way in which a woman is able to spread God’s truth to future generations. Our Savior came to earth through the avenue of motherhood and childbearing (Genesis 3:15, 1 Timothy 2:15), and the spread of His truth today continues throughout the generations as women have children and more image-bearers are born.

Therefore, it is when we understand motherhood in its proper context, as one beautiful way in which the truth of God is able to be spread and our ambassadorship for Christ is able to be lived out, that motherhood then receives great importance and purpose. When we instead make the mistake of taking motherhood off by itself, raising it above the level of importance God gave it, and having it stand alone as the highest calling for women, then what is it all for? What then is the purpose of motherhood? Why is it believed to be the “highest” calling? There is no answer for this. It is only when we understand motherhood in light of the Gospel that the work of mothering becomes a vastly important work.

 

Look to Christ, Mama!

So, sweet mama, as you go about the daily work of mothering, working day in and day out to care for the needs of your children, to raise them up in the way that they should go, and to impart God’s truth to them, remember – what you are doing is important. It is beautiful. It is impacting countless future generations. It is not, however, your ultimate highest calling. The whole of your identity is not to be wrapped up in it. If you think it is, there will come a day in which your children are all grown and gone, and you will be left wondering what your purpose is in life. If you allow the sum total of your identity to be wrapped up in motherhood, you will feel like a failure when your children make mistakes, thinking yourself wholly responsible for how they turn out. If you place your identity in motherhood as your highest calling, it will lose some of its importance.

Instead, look to Christ. Daily look to Christ and find your mission, your identity, your calling, and your purpose in Him. When you do, your motherhood will be drastically changed for the better, and you will truly be working towards the advancement of the Lord’s Kingdom.

God bless you, mamas!

Bio: Rebekah Hargraves is a wife, mama of two littles, home business owner, podcaster, and blogger residing in TN. Her passion is to bless fellow Christian women through her writings on her website, Hargraves Home and Hearth, which exists to “edify, equip, and encourage women in their journey of Biblical womanhood”. Rebekah’s first book, “Lies Moms Believe (And How the Gospel Refutes Them)”, releases in November.

Facebook: Hargraves Home and Hearth

Instagram: @rebekahhargraves

Twitter: @hhomeandhearth

Website: Hargraves Home and Hearth 

Motherhood

When Are You Having Kids?

By:  Alison Rodriguez

That question. Oh, THAT question.

It used to make my blood boil when someone asked me that question.

So many times, my mind screamed:

None of your business!
I’m trying!
I wish I knew!

Instead, the polite person in me – well, really, the person who did not want to face the fact that something was wrong – would often reply:

Oh, I’d like to finish my master’s degree first.
Maybe in a couple more years.

Except one time. Someone at work caught me on a bad day. A lady from another department whom I don’t know very well asked the forbidden question. No made up excuse this time. She got Ally’s famous evil eyes, and, “I actually can’t have kids.” In that moment, I found great joy in the shocked look on her face and her fumbled attempt at a response. All I could think was that’s what you get for asking a personal question to someone with whom you don’t have a personal relationship.

For so long, I used school as an excuse. And then when I finished, I used my husband going to school as an excuse. Excuses are lies you tell others hoping you’ll begin to believe them yourself. Truth be told, I dreamt of holding my baby boy or girl on graduation day wearing my master’s cap, gown, and hood. Now, I dream of having our little one sit on my lap at my husband’s graduation as he receives his master’s hood.

I know that most people have only good intentions when asking this question, but it carries so many assumptions and connotations.

When are you having kids?

…assumes someone wants kids.
…assumes someone can physically have kids.
…assumes that conceiving is the only way to grow a family.

To those trying to conceive, this question strikes a painful chord deep within their soul. It is a reminder that they are not pregnant. It is a reminder that something is wrong with them. It is a reminder that this little person who has mommy’s eyes and daddy’s smile still isn’t here yet and may never be.

This blood-boiling question and my long-time response to it made me realize one very important thing. The condition of your heart determines the character of your response. My heart was bitter so my response was bitter. I created bogus excuses to comfort myself and so easily told them to others.

 

 

Now, when asked this question, I’m truthful. I no longer feel shame in sharing our journey, because I know God has me in this season for a reason. Instead of being a source of heartache, this question has become an opportunity to share what the Lord has done in our lives and hearts. No more bogus excuses. I now share that I have a little angel baby watching over me. I now say that we are halfway through the process of adopting a little one from the foster care system.

When are you having kids?

Does it still strike a painful chord? Yes.
Do I still want to yell, “none of your business!” Sometimes.

But I’m so thankful that those moments are now few and far between. I’m thankful that God did not leave my side for one moment while I worked on changing my heart.

One thing I ask of you: Can we change this question? Can we be mindful of who we ask it to? You never know who is struggling with infertility, and what this question represents in their life. 

Let’s change this from “having kids” to “growing families”. So many families are grown through fostering, adoption, and surrogacy. And some families remain as duos with pets. Let’s refrain from asking this question to people with whom we don’t share a personal relationship. Asking coworkers and acquaintances might not go over so well.

And one last request. Take a moment to evaluate the condition of your heart. Most times, the first thing that needs to change in your circumstance is your heart’s response to it.

With love,
Ally Rod

Motherhood

Fulfilling His Plan

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By: Betty Predmore

Last night our two youngest, both adopted, thanked us for adopting them. Sweet little Lizbeth says, “Thanks for saving us.” Jovanney adds, “Thanks for giving us a home.”

There were moments yesterday, when their rooms looked like an F5 had landed there, that my frustration with them was high. There are moments on many days that I feel inadequate for this job. But then there are moments like last night, when two sweet little souls speak their heart to you in a way that touches you all the way to the tips of your toes. And then you realize…I am adequate for this job. God chose me just for these specific children. God doesn’t make mistakes. He knows far better than I do what these kids need…what I need.

This is the case for all of us mamas, biological, step, adoptive. There are times we doubt our abilities. There are moments when our frustration gets the better of us. There are instances of fear. It is in these moments that we seek our Father for direction. It is at these times that we trust in the One whose plans are far greater than ours.

Thank you Lord for bringing these children to me. Thank you for trusting me with their hearts and their lives. May I, each day, live up to the challenge and blessed opportunity you have given me. Help me, Father, each day to fulfill Your plan.

I can do all things brought Christ Jesus, who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)

Motherhood

The Magic of My Kingdom

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By:  Betty Predmore

If you ask a lot of children where the happiest place on earth is, they are likely to say it is that great adventure park where a walking mouse holds court, along with his silly dog friend, and a duck decked out in blue. That is a place of magic and adventure, where memories are made and smiles are abundant.

If you ask that same question to my son, he will tell you the happiest place on earth is his mama’s house. There are no animals walking around as humans, there are no turbulent rides of excitement, and you can’t buy churros at a corner stand. But what you DO get is enough.

In my magic kingdom there is always excitement. One day you might be waiting on the tooth fairy, the next it might be an unannounced camping trip. There is always delicious fine dining in mama’s kitchen, thanks to dad’s culinary skills. We may not have a churro stand, but there are always treats like Sissy’s homemade cookies, Emmie’s brownies, or one of mama’s cakes.

Magic and adventure….there is plenty at mama’s house. There is the magic of unconditional love, forgiveness when necessary, compassion and tenderness, and acceptance. There is great adventure in our family “nerf wars” and pool races. There is the adventure of beginning each new day, knowing that God has something really awesome for us. There is adventure in the moments of expectation and the moments of surprise.

And just like that great theme park, my magic kingdom has plenty of smiles. There are the smiles that greet each other in the morning, ready to begin a new day. There are the smiles of welcome after a day away from home. There are the smiles and laughter that come from silly jokes, old stories, and selfie poses. There are smiles and shrieks of laughter through the tickles and hide-and-seek chases. There are smiles and embraces for those who come home to visit, and even smiles through our tears when we say goodbye.

And ALL of this….everything that happens in my magic kingdom, makes our beautiful memories. This life that God has given us, this family that He has joined together, has made some beautiful, unforgettable memories together, and I know God is just getting started! Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,”declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” His plans for the future of this family are awesome. He wants to prosper us and bring us new things….new adventures, new opportunities to love, show grace & compassion, new chances to learn from each other and from Him. His desire is that we continue to follow Him, and grow in our knowledge of Him. He wants us to smile and laugh together, and make millions more new memories. I know a lot of that will happen in my house….my very own magic kingdom.

Motherhood

The Aftermath

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By: Betty Predmore

I sit here this morning, surveying the aftermath of a weekend with house guests and birthdays. On Friday, my home was something to be proud of. It was clean and sparkly, everything was in its place, and it was ever do serene. This morning there are shoes in the floor, toys strewn across the table, a pile of used towels in the bathroom, and a table full of birthday gifts I don’t have the energy to put away.

Does this upset me? Does this frustrate me? Does this make me weary? Absolutely not! When I look around this morning, I don’t see a mess. I smile and remember the laughter that was shared in my home this weekend. I remember the smiles of my little girl as she turned 8 years old. I remember the squeals of my granddaughter, and my little boys wrestling with their big brother. I remember the delicious meals my husband made so lovingly for his family, and I remember all the hugs and kisses.

I am proud of this mess. This mess means that this mama shared a beautiful weekend with her babies. This mess means that loved flowed through this place. This mess means that “mama’s” house is home.

“She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.” Proverbs 31:27

Motherhood

Blessed Opportunity

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By:  Betty Predmore

By loving, obeying, and having a reverence for the Lord, we are setting ourselves up for blessings, for prosperity in our lives. Even better is the fact that we are creating that for our children. The Lord will direct our paths straight into abundance if we let him…if we listen to his prompting. We have an incredible, blessed, vital opportunity to raise our children in reverence and love for Jesus. We have this one life with our kids and this one chance to lead them towards that prosperity that can only come from Christ. Keep your eyes on the path that He has set before you. Keep obedience in your heart and in your mind. Seek Him, follow Him, and allow Him to bless you and your children far beyond what you can imagine.

Motherhood

Placing Your Nest

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By:  Betty Predmore

Even the sparrow has found a home , and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young – a place near your altar, Lord Almighty, my King and my God. (Psalm 84:3)

We mamas will do anything to protect our children. We go to great lengths to make sure our homes are safe, the food we serve is safe, that we teach them about 9-1-1 and about stranger danger. We want to protect our children….from danger, from doubt, from insecurity, from fear, and from pain. We want them to be safe at all times and we want them to have that sweet assurance that they are protected.

I think of the swallow….just a small bird, yet so wise in the placement of her nest. She was preparing a safe place to have her babies….a safe place near the altar of God. She knew instinctively that her nest needed to be positioned near the place that resonated reverence and awe for the King of Kings. I find that amazing, and see it as yet another example of God’s awesome creation.

As mamas, are we like that swallow? With all of the worry and fuss over the physical safety of our children, are we making sure they are spiritually safe? Are we preparing a place for them, bringing them up near our Father? Are we feeding their souls? Are our homes filled with the security and assurance of the Holy Spirit? Are we teaching them about the love of Christ?

Just like that mama bird, we are responsible for our children. They are depending on us. God gave them to us with the purpose of us raising them up in His ways, teaching them to live and to serve like Jesus did. That spiritual nurturing is so important in His plan for their lives. Be wise. Be prepared. Be safe. Place your “nest” at the foot of the cross and let God hold your family in his safe and comforting arms.