Vocation of Motherhood

This article written by Pastor RJ Runewald was originally posted on his blog.

Motherhood.  Being a mom is perhaps one of the most difficult, thankless, overlooked, and exhausting callings that God has created.  And it is also one of the most important callings that there is.  When I walk in the door after a busy day of work, I am able to leave my work behind and my kids are excited to play and have fun with daddy.  My wife on the other hand, when she has a difficult day at home as a mom, she’s still got to be a mom.  And while daddy walks in the door for fun times, mommy just spent hours trying to get a meal ready, discipline a two-year-old, and straighten up the house.  Have I mentioned that being a mom is difficult?

I’ve heard it said that as a parent the days often feel long and the years feel short.  And moms often feel this very closely.  A day drags on waiting for some relief from keeping the kids from killing each other.  The day drags on waiting for the weather to change so the kids can finally go outside and play.  But then the tension comes as your baby is going off to school and you wonder, where did the time go?

Dear Moms...

Those little things that you do.  Playing legos.  Cutting the sandwich into triangles.  Checking on your kids for the tenth time.  The extra bed-time story and cuddles.  The counseling after a bad day at school.  Running out to pick up flowers to prevent your kid from being embarrassed without them on their first date.  And of course the little things that are not so glamorous.  The changing the diapers.  The time-outs.  The loading the kids up in the car for a family trip to the grocery store.

These little things are sacred.

In the midst of the long and difficult days, these things don’t feel like they are sacred but they are.  Because God is at work as you do the work of mothering.

God is loving your children, caring for them, protecting them, growing them, and watching over them as you do the work of being a mom. God is at work in the life of your child through the work you do as mom.  That’s a sacred calling.  And as a Christian we are free to do the work of mothering the best we can, not because God needs us to be good mothers in order to earn anything.  But simply because our kids need the best mothers.

"What then does Christian faith say to this? It opens its eyes, looks upon all these insignificant, distasteful, and despised duties in the Spirit, and is aware that they are all adorned with divine approval as with the costliest gold and jewels…God with all his angels and creatures is smiling - not because the father (or mother) is washing diapers, but because he is doing so in Christian faith.”

Martin Luther [LW 45:39-40]

And let’s be clear.  You can be a faithful, Christian mother even when you are struggling to give yourself to the spiritual things. Don’t get me wrong, these things are good things - giving ourselves to reading, memorizing, and studying God’s Word is always valuable.  But in the midst of the long, difficult days that are filled with endless battles, the struggle can make the Christian mother feel unspiritual as she doesn’t do the “spiritual” things that she longs to do.

One author wrote the following:

“A woman told me about getting involved in a Bible study that demanded strict commitment to the study of God’s Word.  ‘You should make the Bible your number one priority,’ she was told.  That meant getting up early and the very first thing in the morning doing Bible reading and having a quiet time with the Lord.  She did this, but to her consternation every morning as she would start to read her Bible, the baby would wake up.  She found herself resenting the interruption.  Here she was, trying to spend time with God, and the baby would start fussing, demanding to be fed and distracting her attention away from spiritual things.  After a while, though, she came to understand the doctrine of vocation.  Taking care of her baby was what God, at that moment, was calling her to do.  Being a mother and loving and serving her child was her vocation, her divine calling from the Lord.  She could read the Bible later.  She did not have to feel guilty that she was neglecting spiritual things; taking care of her baby is a spiritual thing!”

Gene Veith, God at Work

All of work is sacred.  And for mothers that means all those little things - the things you love and the things you dread - are sacred.  Motherhood is a holy calling.  Parents are the primary influences and disciple-makers for their children and mothers get the opportunity to do this day in and day out as they love, care for, and spend time with their kids.

RJ Grunewald is Pastor at Faith Lutheran Church in Troy, Michigan and attends seminary at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis MO.