This morning, I watched an interview with a woman who, after 20 years of marriage and with a 3- and 5-year-old at home, decided that she didn’t want to be a mother anymore. So, she divorced her husband and now spends 5-6 hours at a time with her sons. In her own words, she says she realized, “Whoa, I did that thing that I didn’t want to do, which was give up my life for someone else.” Earlier in the interview, she says, “I didn’t want to be a mother, and that was because I had this idea that motherhood was this really all-encompassing thing. I was afraid of being swallowed up by that.” So she just left it all, claiming, “We have to have the freedom to decide what it is we’re going to do and how it is we’re going to — to shape our motherhood, to shape our lives.”
At first, I welled up with righteous indignation, bursting with self-righteousness, “How could she do such a thing?!!” Then, swiftly, the Lord was gracious to humble me and reveal my own heart to me. Am I really any different? Her choice indeed seems despicable, but does my heart look any different to the Lord? I may not be bold enough to voice it as she did, and by God’s grace I pray that I would never go to the extreme she did, but, practically, I operate under much the same belief at times every day. When I am impatient with my kids or I just don’t want to deal with them at the moment, when I nag my husband or just want him to serve me so I can “have a break”, when I get annoyed when other people’s needs infringe on my personal agenda……I am practically saying that I don’t want to give up my life for another.
Now, there is a danger in finding our identity in something fleeting, whether motherhood or a job or something else. We are constantly in danger of being “swallowed up” by something that will become “all-encompassing” to us. We will never find meaning and joy in all of these things by themselves. And they, too, will never last. You only parent children for a short time. You only have a job for a short time. You only have a spouse for a short time. You only have a healthy body for a short time. You only live and breathe for a short time.
Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11)
And he says, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:12-13)
The Apostle Paul says, “in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death,even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:3-8)
And, again, Jesus says, “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:39)
Jesus laid down His life for us. God Almighty, Creator of all things that are or have been or will ever be, Sustainer of all things, Giver of life and breath and being – He laid down His life for us! He counted us as friends when we were not friends and indeed despised Him, and He laid down His life to secure ours! He who is God made HImself nothing and humbled Himself to death, even death on a cross! Be amazed! Be humbled! And be like Jesus!
Surely, then, it is not so bad to lay down your life. Jesus did it. And we are commanded to love one another as He loved us! We are to have the same mindset as Jesus, being willing to make ourselves nothing and become servants. He reminds us that the only way to truly find and save our lives is to willingly lay them down now.
So, what are we to think about motherhood? How are we not to get swallowed up by it (which is detrimental to all involved – she was right in that)? We have to be swallowed up in Jesus instead. He is the only antidote. The only way we will not be swallowed up to destruction is to be all-encompassed by Him. Only then can we joyfully delight in laying down our lives for our children, our husbands, or friends, even our enemies.
May the Lord grant us grace to daily live in Him alone, trusting Him, relying on Him, finding our identities in He who alone will never fade away!