"I think, in recent years, motherhood has kind of become an idol in our culture."
My friend's words left me feeling a little bit uneasy, but also gave me a great deal to think about on the drive home from our weekly girls night. Could she be right? I write about mothering all the time because I believe it to be incredibly important. Because I've been a desperate and lonely first time Mama who needed a little encouragement. Because culturally, we are disconnected more and more from our families of origin and need others to help light the way. Maybe that's why her statement put me on the defensive almost immediately. Maybe that's why it stuck with me for a few days more, popping up every now and then in my mind as I went about the rest of my week.
The truth is, anything can become an idol when we fail to keep our focus on the source and purpose of it all. When we neglect gratitude and humility. When we focus on showing others how amazing we are in any capacity and take full credit. I know that the only reason I can get 6 kids dressed and out the door to church solo is with a heaping dose of supernatural grace. The only way I can navigate sleepless nights and potty training and homeschooling is with God's help. Any successes I have are a direct result of His goodness to us. I know this because sometimes I do make an idol of it. Feel proud of "my" accomplishments, "my" family, "my" abilities. I find out quickly, living that way, that it just plain doesn't work.
Mothering is important. I truly believe it is vocational, a life work that is able to glorify God and give us opportunities for sanctification. Mothering can highlight our eternal need for God in each and every moment. It can be the catalyst for drawing us closer to Him. I know that in my life, nothing brings me to my knees more frequently than my mothering. The importance and weight of this vocation requires total reliance on grace.
Mothering can be an idol. When we use to to show off to others. When we hold ourselves and others to unyielding standards. When we allow ourselves to take part in the "Mommy Wars" as opposed to lifting one another up. When we allow pride to be our incentive and our prize, our selfish egos the only concern.
When Mothering becomes an idol, everyone loses. Ourselves, other Moms, our kids. It becomes empty and trite, nothing more than a falsified snapshot of real life. When we keep God at the center of our lives, everyone is blessed in real and rich ways. Not just our own children and those closest to us, but the world as a greater whole. Setting the distractions of pride and perfectionism aside, we can grasp the grace that God has for us - and change the world.
Mothering for Mothering's sake is empty. Allowing God to use our motherhood to change us into vessels of grace? No greater honor.
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