I often think about what advice I most want to give to mothers. The first thing that usually comes to mind is "Get sleep: you AND your children!" I sometimes think, "Be consistent." Other times I think I would say, "Think about the kids you want to launch into the world at age 18 and then find a way to start shaping that kid now when they are two." And still other moments leave me wanting to scream (at myself and others), "MODEL. MODEL. MODEL. Kids won't learn what they don't see."
I feel passionately about these things and many more like them. It's true, kids and parents do need sleep. Being consistent is extremely important. Beginning with the end in mind keeps you from fumbling through this thing called parenting. And yes, modeling is extremely important. Kids really don't learn what they don't see lived out in front of them.
But no. Those aren't my final answer. As much as I believe in those things, they aren't what is most important.
For us as Christian mamas, being in the Word—and letting it shape and mold us—is the most important thing we can do.
The world has so much it wants to teach us about people, life, and the way things work. By God's grace, we can learn a lot about life from the world (in fact, I just started a fascinating book about how we make decisions and I am in awe at the complexity of the human brain!) But true knowledge, true wisdom, and true guidance come from God Himself.
The Word of God
- is pure
- is refreshing to the soul
- is trustworthy
- makes the simple wise
- is right
- gives joy to the heart
- is radiant
- gives light to the eyes
- is pure
- endures forever
- is firm
- is righteous
- is more precious than gold
- is sweeter than honey
- warns God's servants
- if kept, yields great reward
As mothers, isn't that what we want to lead us and guide us? Don't we want something pure? something true? something that endures forever? something worth more than money? something that gives great reward?
Each of us have been created uniquely. We each have different talents, dreams, abilities, personalities, quirks, passions, and circumstances. There is no way that a particular book or article on parenting will work for all of us, no matter how many thousands fill the bookstore shelves. God has a plan for you in your parenting. He has different aspects of His personality that He wants to show through you and your family. If that is true (and I believe that it is), then it is imperative that we go to God for our wisdom and guidance.
In this past ten months, as I have had a renewed commitment to daily time in the Word, I have realized how much I have missed out on in the past. God has so much truth and wisdom and guidance for me as it relates to life and to mothering and I basically ignored it. I looked to my own great ideas and I hung onto every word of good books, but I neglected God's revelation of what HE wanted for me and for my family. I learned a lot from those good books but there was something missing. It was God's plan for me. Each day now, as I come in the dark and quiet hours of the morning and open His Word, His plan for me and the personality He has given me, slowly takes shape. It is truly giving light to my eyes.
- I can't tell you what is right for your family.
- I can't tell you whether you should send your kids to public school or homeschool them.
- I can't tell you whether to put your kids in every activity possible or to just choose one.
- I can't tell you how many kids to have.
- I can't tell you how many meals a week you need to eat together as a family.
- I can't tell you if you should put your kids in Sunday School/Youth Group or not.
- I can't tell you how to spend your money and what activities/things are good for your family.
- I can't tell you what food and exercise you should get to care for your body.
- I can't tell you whether you should pack your bags and move overseas or instead stay where you are, ministering to those around you locally.
I can't tell you those things. But God can.
If you want to know how to be a good mother, look to the Word. Don't compare what you are doing to other women (comparison either builds arrogant pride or feelings of inferiority and inadequacy). If you want to know how you are doing as a mom, compare yourself to what God has to say about it. The Scriptures are filled with God revealing His plan for caring for and raising children. Put yourself up against God's standard and then rely on Him to help bring you to meet that standard. I am far from who I want to be (as a woman and as a mother) but at least now I know where I am heading. Instead of aimlessly floating through these parenting years, hoping for the best and praying that I won't mess up too bad, I have a plan. I see God's heart for children and for mothers and I am starting to see where He is leading our particular family with our particular set of circumstances. My answers won't necessarily be your answers. But your answer is there. God chose you for your children and your children for you. Go to Him to find out why.
Let the Word shape you as a mother. Let it build you where you are lacking. Let it prune you where you are growing wild. Let it soften rough edges and sturdy your foundation.
There will always be more books on parenting. There will always be more blog posts. There will always be well-intentioned advice from others. And those are good things, really. God wants us to open our mouths in wisdom. He wants us to buy truth. He wants us to teach younger women how to love their children. But—and this is a huge but—the only 100% reliable place to receive guidance in the Word of God. People will fail us. Books will leave us empty. Good ideas will only get us so far. We need to feed our souls on what God has to say. If we as mothers skip out on this desperately needed nourishment, we will have nothing to give our families. Nothing.
That's where I am today. Desperately seeking God for what He has to say about parenting. Passionately seeking His approval for what I am doing. In the end, when I meet the Lord face to face and I have to give an account of my life, I want to be able to stand before God and know that to the best of my flawed and sinful human ability, I sought Him for the answers of life and for the strength to live those answers out. It isn't always going to be the easy way. It isn't always going to be the popular way. It isn't always going to be the way that lines up with what I want to do. But it is the right way.