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“I don’t know if I can do this EVERY DAY. This just feels like too much.”
I stared out the window and uttered these words silently, trying to push back the tears. For probably the millionth time.
My kids, clueless, continued to argue over whose turn it was to play with the thing or who had claim to the last cookie in the pantry. It was our first day of homeschooling, and it was disastrous. I had visions of happy kids, excited to set our academic year off right.
No more than a few minutes in, I started having serious doubts about my life decisions.
I’ve sacrificed a lot. I left my career and other meaningful pursuits with my life. Now my personal ambitions move forward at a snail’s pace, if at all (if not backwards). Like many of you, I look back on some days when the house is a disaster and wonder, what did I even do today?
I remember what it used to feel like to have extra income that didn’t get sucked into feeding tiny bottomless pits and supplying them with bunk beds and soccer cleats. We used to go out to eat a lot more. We used to give a lot more away.
Before kids, I thrived in ministry work. My husband Marc and I moved to Alaska and helped launch a campus ministry; we met with people multiple times a week just to talk about the Bible. They changed their lives; we continued to serve; we engaged in the community and gave people hope. It wasn’t always easy, but it seemed obvious that what we were doing was important. We could see the results. The people we built that community with back then are still dear friends today.
I said goodbye to that lifestyle prayerfully and with my eyes wide open. I knew that for me, leaving the workforce and the ministry we had been a part of was what would be best for our kids. Not everyone understood our decisions, but we plunged ahead.
Years later, I drive by the local elementary school where my kids could be attending if we didn’t homeschool and wonder…maybe I need more of a break. I see the professional attire that I don’t need on sale at the mall and muse…it would feel good to wear that. I see the needs at church and in my community and think…I would love to be able to do more.
Of course, I love my kids and I love my life. If you’re in this season with me, you feel me on this. I don’t wrestle so much with my love and dedication to them…but I wrestle with a nagging feeling. It lingers on days when I’m wiping noses, changing diapers, dusting curtains and fixing broken toys. It pesters me when I’m saying no to commitments and stepping down from responsibilities I can no longer handle.
The Lie…and the Truth
Somewhere along this journey, I internalized a false message. It goes something like this: I’m in a season (that part’s true). But it’s a less important season than the other seasons when I can serve more, give more, be more. In other words, my life and my purpose get put on hold when my kids are at home.
Insert record scratch sound here.
What a horrible lie. Left unrecognized it could derail my calling as a mother.
I heard a sermon recently that left me in tears because it exposed this lie at its core. The message was about God’s plan to reach the world. I was expecting to hear a lot about the call to serve the poor, to invite our neighbors to church, to preach the good news and make disciples of all nations. I’ve heard all of that before, quite a bit.
I prepared to start feeling a little guilty. Because you know, kids get in the way of all of that.
Instead, we looked through multiple passages throughout the Old and New Testaments about what the speaker called “generational evangelism.” From the time of the Israelites to the time of the apostles, the instructions were pretty clear:
It started with one couple, Abraham and Sarah:
I will make you into a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.
Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him. For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.
And God worked through their descendants, calling them out of Egypt and reminding them not to forget their purpose:
Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.
While again and again God’s people fell short and rebelled, God’s plan remained. The call was still clear:
One generation commends your works to another;
they tell of your mighty acts.
It was central to the message up to the last prophet of the Old Testament, pointing towards the coming of the Messiah:
See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents…
The Messiah came. The Gospels open with the story of the generations that led to his coming. Jesus loved children and said that we must become more like them. Even though he never married or had his own physical family, he saw the great plan for God’s family.
And the message continued with his followers:
Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.
Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
—2 Timothy 3:14–15
These are just a few passages of a theme that saturates the Scriptures.
My whole mindset about my choices over the past several years has shifted.
Wiping Noses for Jesus is Legit
Raising my kids isn’t a burden to the gospel. Raising a faithful family is a central part of it.
I think I had known this in my heart, but hearing it preached to a crowd and outlined so clearly felt validating. Before, I felt like I had to make excuses—mostly to myself—why I couldn’t do x, y, z. Now, I can justify—mostly to myself—that wiping noses for Jesus is legit.
At the time I’m writing this, there are overwhelmingly heavy burdens that we hear about every day in the world around us. Racism and violence in our own country; terrorism and poverty and refugees abroad. I think a lot of us at home wish we could do more, but we forget: by investing in our families, we are investing in the future.
Some of us are called to go out into the world, to be boots on the ground, to love and serve those who need it most.
Others of us are called to raise those who will have the heart to do it tomorrow. I can send one of me. Or I can send three of my “mini-mes” later.
Furthermore, who better than a parent to invest every spare second I have to teach my kids what it means to love, to reject bigotry and hatred, to show compassion and to embrace what is true? Yes, on many days it’s hard to see the value in the mundane everyday tasks that take up so much time and energy. But it’s within this boring soil that the meaningful moments are cultivated: conversations, life lessons and love.
Moms (and dads) out there, maybe you feel like I do. You question the value of your day-to-day; you wonder if it matters, if you could do more.
My encouragement to you is this: name that lie for what it is. Remember that your family is your first ministry and that the everyday stuff matters more than you know.
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