On several occasions I’ve been asked the question “Is it hard?” in regards to motherhood. Sometimes I just don’t know how to respond because the answer seems obvious to me. It is an emphatic “YES!” Of course it’s hard. I’m constantly on my feet taking care all the little ones’ needs. I’m up in the middle of the night nursing and as soon as I rise up in the morning, the day is non-stop until the children go down at night. Does this sound hard? It definitely is!
Sometimes I get the look of “Why would you do this to yourself?” It is akin to self-inflicted pain. There are times I ask myself this question too, especially when I’m having a bad day. However, when my mental status is more sane, I think about this question more thoroughly. The only answer I can come up with is this: “It is good for me.” In this day and age, hard work is shunned upon. Thus, when we purposely choose things that are difficult, we make lots of people scratch their heads in bewilderment. In the end, I really believe raising four little ones is good for me because it molds and shapes my character. I’ve never learned to be more giving, selfless, and sacrificial than in becoming a mother. This is what John Mark Reynolds calls “bloodless martyrdom.” I have to agree. This kind of “bloodness martyrdom” better prepares me for the Kingdom of God. Yes, it is hard. Yes, I do struggle. . . . . A LOT. Yes, I do make mistakes, and lots of them.
A constant temptation in my life, and perhaps in the lives of many who live in the ease-oriented culture of America, is to merely yearn for relief. How often I simply want to ask God to make a day end more quickly, or the kids obey more readily, etc. But making that the main point will lead not only to disappointment (on my part), it also falls far short of God’s purposes. David Powlison, in addressing the subject of how we pray, says it well:
We all tend to pray for circumstances to improve so that we might feel better. Such requests are honest and good – unless these requests go no further. Detached from God’s purposes for sanctification and hearts that groan for his kingdom to come, such prayers become self-centered.
My attitude toward this immensely difficult task of motherhood is so revealing of my attitude toward God’s providence in this world. Do I expect life in this sin-tainted world to be easy? Do I expect obeying Christ in all of life not to require sacrifice? Do I expect my children to always be “lovable” so as to make my job of loving them “natural?”
As I contemplate the difficulties of motherhood, and why I have chosen the path that I have, I see how God is leading me down a path of learning what’s good for me. And more often than not, that’s what’s hard for me.
May God help me to learn not only to “endure” the hard seasons of life, but also to look for Him in those seasons. And to grow in those seasons. May I not absorb the spirit of our age — that of comfort and ease — and instead be willing to continue down the difficult path of serving my family to the glory of God.
Note: I write as someone who is still struggling through this. Sometimes when I’m having a bad day, my husband tells me to go read my own blog. Yes, I do read my own blog.