I am not one of those women who simply always wanted to a mother. For a lot of my life I didn’t know what I wanted to be, but mommy never really crossed my mind.
Yet here I am being defined primarily in this role of mother. Last spring I quit my teaching job and significantly scaled back my campus ministry work in order to focus on the two little disciples I have living with me now and it has really required a shift in my thinking about my identity, my calling and my relationship with God.
The work is hard.
The work is dirty.
I mean, wiping icky bottoms, getting spit up on and blending purees fit for toothless babies to consume are hardly an ideal way to spend a day.
Even the fun things, like playing with glitter and glue, walking to the park, and giggles and tickles and cuddling and cooing can seem so very…unspiritual.
As a campus staff worker with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship I truly connect with God when I am teaching His Word, leading bible studies, mentoring girls and prayer walking.
I connect with God when I am trainings our students to grow as leaders and missionaries and followers of The Way.
When I do these things, although they are outward actions, inside my heart is singing and praising and worshipping God.
So when these activities suddenly became very infrequent in my life because I was spending most of my hours at home being mommy, instead of on campus being minister; connecting with God became more challenging as well.
One evening not too long ago, I was putting my daughter to bed after a particularly naughty day and I found myself praying something different with her at night besides the usual “Thank you God for mommy and daddy and Evangeline and Zachary. Thank you for Jesus. Amen” prayer.
Instead, I prayed this alongside my daughter: “Jesus, Evangeline is very sorry that she didn’t listen to mommy and daddy today. She is sorry that she threw a fit and threw her toys. Thanks God for loving her so much, even though she sometimes misbehaves Amen”.
With that Evangeline, in her ‘upset’ voice told me firsthand how she disobeyed daddy that day. And then she said strait from her heart “Sorry God”.
Such sorrow and repentance was in her voice that I was compelled to continue on, uttering my own mommy prayer for both her and God to hear.
“And Jesus, I am sorry too. I am sorry that I was not very patient with Evangeline today. Please help me to be more patient and to not yell so much. And thank you God for loving me so much, even though I sometimes misbehave.”
The Father has been so very generous to me as a mother, letting me know that although my mission work doesn’t seem quite as exciting and radical most days, that there is plenty of Kingdom work left to be done in my kids, in my neighbors’ lives, in our community and in my own spirit.
When we go outside after morning naps we look at the blue sky, the palm trees, the mountains and the sun we give thanks to God for his creation; Evangeline, in her sweet little two-year old girl voice, and me in my prideful 30 year-old woman heart.
When I am forced to endure 30 minutes of Veggie tales random lyrics and silly stories and I hear her say that God made her beautiful on the outside, but cares about the inside, I feel a sense of freedom in having messy hair and crows feet.
When I try feebly and clumsily to explain to my daughter who God is, and eventually land on “God is The King”, and then I hear her say to me a couple of days later “God is the ONLY king” I am humbled in my heart by the majesty and glory of The Only King.
When all of these moments, plus a million more giggles and cuddles and loads of laundry and stinky bottoms fill up my day, I hear God asking me to worship him in a new way.
A way that is different.
A way that is difficult.
A way that is good.
I am thankful that He has taken a role, the role of motherhood, that for me seemed so earthly and humble and….poopy…and shown me how important it is to be there to teach my little ones, and myself, things like repentance, and patience, and how to be true worshippers of The Only King.