It’s so easy, commendable even, to lose ourselves in motherhood. When that first child comes into our life, our whole identity seemingly changes. We have a new name—Mom—a new routine, new plans, new bedtime. Just about everything from life before kids changes to adapt to this new little person, and we change to accommodate them.
We give up long stretches of sleep, give up going to the movies, give up washing our hair regularly. Some of us give up careers, give up savings, give up our bodies. Introducing a child into your life changes everything, and we change with it.
It’s no wonder, then, that it’s so easy to fall into the temptation to view motherhood as a religion.
We bow at the altar of parenting styles. We proselytize about feeding methods. We create commandments for our home and find our identities in them—working mom, crunchy mom, attachment mom. We grow so fiercely passionate about the way we raise our children and so passionate about our children, that our gravity shifts and we find ourselves revolving around our children, find our seasons determined by their moods and health and milestones.
We lose ourselves in the religion of motherhood.
And while we applaud one another for giving all we’ve got to our kids, for fighting so hard and sacrificing so much, we let our identity in Christ slip away.
We are new creations, indeed—but not made so by motherhood but by His sacrifice.
We are called to such a time as this, and these children are an extension of our ministry on earth, but they are not who we find our identity in. Jesus is.
A few years ago I knew a worship leader who loved her son dearly. He was the only child she and her husband had, and the three of them were understandably tight-knit. They did everything together and really, truly enjoyed their time together. It was so wonderful to witness, so inspiring to see how much time they devoted to their child and how close they were as a result of it.
But then I started to notice the more she spoke about her son, the less she spoke about Jesus.
While leading worship, she used stories about her son to illustrate Biblical principles. Instead of drawing from scripture, she was looking to her son. Week after week we heard stories about her son, her wonderful son, and no mention of the wonderful Son of God. She’d become so enthralled with the relationship between herself and her child that she was drawing inspiration from him, not from God. Instead of reading God’s word to learn more about Him, she watched her son play and drew philosophical statements from a child.
She had made motherhood her religion.
Don’t get me wrong, we are supposed to love our children fiercely, and I do. I love my children so much it makes me ache. But I cannot love them so much that there’s no room for God.
I cannot be so wrapped up in being their mother I forget that I’m His daughter.
I cannot pursue parental perfection with so much passion that I forget to pursue His presence.
I cannot find my salvation in what I do for my children—I can only find it in Him.
My worship-leading friend has a good heart. I know she didn’t mean to turn her child into an idol. I know the pride swelling within her chest as she sees him grow, and I know God feels similarly when He looks upon us. She didn’t intentionally ignore her relationship with God in order to find her encouragement in motherhood. It just happens. It’s easy.
We celebrate mothers who give their all, who work so selflessly, who do the crafts and cook the meals and read the books and do everything good mothers are supposed to do. It’s a noble position, motherhood, and it’s easy to fall prey to the notion we must lose ourselves in it. What better cause than the betterment of our children?
But this is not the relationship God desires of us, and this is not the relationship we should be modeling for our children.
When Abraham took Isaac up the mountain, when a father broke his heart to obey God, he was not only proving his faithfulness to God . . . he was modeling it for Isaac.
We must show our children that yes, they are important, but so is our relationship with God. We have to model prayer, personal prayer, time spent studying scripture. We have to lead our children into relationship with God, not to the center of our universe.
There is no shame in being a good mother, and there should be no guilt in devoting so much of yourself to your children.
We just have to be certain we find our identity in Christ, not in kids, and remember that motherhood is a gift, a calling, a sacrifice, and a blessing, but it is not a religion.