Through the glass window beside our front door, I caught a glimpse of a spider hard at work beneath the glow of our porch light. She was hustling. It seemed she was just beginning the work on what would be a beautiful, strong web by morning. I paused to watch her strategy. At times it seemed she would fall; her little legs crawling on silk so delicate I couldn’t even see the strands supporting her.
How often in my personal journey through motherhood I’ve felt just like this creature – creating, building, investing – all while feeling like I’m barely hanging on. I’ve spent many days during this new season with the underlying notion that I’m losing my footing. I’m continually surprised by how easily us moms find ourselves here: isolated, self-reliant, hustling, on the edge. I truly do believe that what I’m building will become something beautiful, though most days I don’t yet see the fruit of it. However, left to my own devices and ambivalence, I am certain it will be an endless, lonely, and fearful cycle in which I toil in vain.
When my first son came into this world, I had an idea of the mom I wanted to be. My top priority was to teach him about our Creator and the Gospel as much as possible, while reflecting Jesus and my own deep need for such a Savior. Easy enough, right? I yearned to be present, mindful, and gracious. Yet, as time went on I was surprised by how incredibly easy it was to focus on the somewhat petty and temporal aspects of motherhood.
I unwillingly found myself right in the middle of today’s mommy wars such as: breast or bottle? Crib or co-sleeping? Working inside or outside the home? Spanking or no spanking? Screens or no screens? Disciplinary styles. Extracurricular activities. Communication techniques. Sleep training. Books on theories on philosophies.
These are just a few measures of “good” moms that our culture currently holds dear. And what does any of it mean in light of eternity? On their own, nothing. How deeply we burden ourselves with these shackles of self-reliance and approval-seeking from those around us. We carry these chains in our hearts as we try to find our identity in all the wrong places along our journey as moms.
The good news is that Jesus came to set us free. The Gospel is so simple, yet so poignant and challenging to the core of our humanness. Repeatedly throughout the Word He simplifies life for us, beckons us to rest in Him, and calls us to be concerned only with pleasing His heart:
Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it. – Deuteronomy 12:32 (ESV)
But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” – Matthew 22:34-40 (ESV)
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30 (ESV)
How often do I take the liberty of adding to what He has called me to in motherhood, as His daughter? How habitually do I create “laws” for myself to which I become enslaved? How frequently do I burden myself with my own commands and forget to meditate on who He has called me to be? How often do I look for rest in all the wrong places?
Too many times to count.
So what does Jesus require of us in our role as mothers today? The same thing he did 2,000 years ago: to seek Him and love Him first with everything we’ve got, to love our family as we do ourselves, and to trust Him with the remaining details. He cares more than we can ever understand on this side of heaven. Let’s trust him to provide us guidance with every aspect of our children’s lives – from the sleeping and feeding to their spiritual and emotional well-being – as we pursue Him with everything we have in us.
I thank God for the soul rest He offers us each moment. We are invited to learn from the example of Jesus – seeking solace and quiet with his Father even amidst constant company and commotion. We don’t have to toil like a spider. He even sustains them – how much more will He sustain us? We are not creating something in our home and families that is here today and gone tomorrow. What we are doing is a great eternal work, and our provision and footing is certain in Him.