Motherhood is a wonderful time of life. It is all consuming – filled with laughter, joy, work, trials, challenges and triumphs. But motherhood can also be tiring and draining if we aren’t caring for ourselves. In a culture that has a large emphasis on “me time” and not enough on motherhood encouragement, I want to shift that focus back to our larger purpose – HIS calling upon our lives. But what does this look like? And what is biblical motherhood really meant to be?
The History of Motherhood
In the past (specifically from the 11th to the 18th century), motherhood was something that was celebrated. It was a bonding experience for women. It was a time of motherhood encouragement when women came together, helped one another, and shared their lives .
Emotional attachment was given great value back then and being a mother carried with it the role of educating the next generation.
Mothers taught not only health and life skills, but also morals, culture, language, beliefs, knowledge passed down, and social norms.
During the 18th and 19th centuries, motherhood became highly valued. Women’s bodies were appreciated for their ability to nourish and bring forth life. But in association with increased medical knowledge, they were monitored more closely during this time.
There was a basic understanding that motherhood itself was the root of love and happiness for children. And that when children were raised in a loving and nourishing environment the benefits were reflected in society in general, creating a more peaceful culture .
The 20th century brought about a drastic switch in motherhood – distancing women from their bodies during pregnancy and their roles as mothers afterwards.
The continued growth in reproductive knowledge and medicalization of pregnancy continued to distance women from their own bodies. The comfort and knowledge of past generations around pregnancy and birth became more distant as women looked to doctors for this knowledge instead of each other and the generations before them.
The role of the feminist movement also had a negative impact on the role of motherhood. Women desired to be seen as more than just bodies to produce life – they wanted to be valued for their whole complex selves.
This was a wonderful change for women who had often been seen as lower class. However, the downside was that in seeking this image, it inadvertently downplayed and even diminished the role of motherhood .
Then as we moved into the 21st century our culture took a shift as a whole to one that is much more independent and self focused.
And this shift has also impacted motherhood. Many mothers – whether due to circumstances or choice – work (inside or outside the home). And on top of our already busy lives, we are filled with constant images and input about the hobbies and social activities that we need to be involved in.
And to top if off, we need to carve out time for “me time” which is the focus of many mom groups and chats these days. But this time rarely focuses on motherhood encouragement!
But what does biblical motherhood really look like?
As women of faith we are meant to be in this world, but not of this world. Our views of ourselves as women and mothers should be defined by God’s word and nothing else.
So what does the Bible have to say about motherhood? Let’s start with our children.
Children are a blessing and a reward. And we should treasure them as such! Yes raising little human beings with their own wills and ways is challenging and demanding work. But it is work that is worth sacrificing for.
And what is our job as mothers? It’s multifaceted!
Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 22:6 (NKJV)
Our job is to train up our children. I don’t know if you have ever had to train anyone or anything before (a new employee, or a young puppy perhaps?). But it is work that requires dedication, persistence, consistency and TIME. We need to provide all of these things for our children if we want our training to be fruitful.
And we aren’t just responsible for the training up of our own children! As we grown in years, life experience and knowledge, we are given more responsibility.
The older women likewise, that they be reverent in behaviour, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things— that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children…
Titus 2:3-5 (NKJV)
It is important that as women, we pass down to the next generation of women, wives and mothers, the ins and outs of our roles. That we mentor each other in the caring for and raising up of the next generation.
Not only are we responsible for the rearing of our children and other’s, but we create the environment in which that happens!
She watches over the ways of her household, And does not eat the bread of idleness.
We have the responsibility to run our households. We can allow chaos and disorder to rule, or we can create order and peace. And the Bible even acknowledges that our job is a busy one!
And these are just the roles that we play. The bible also has lots to say about the shaping of our ways of being as mothers.
She opens her mouth with wisdom, And on her tongue is the law of kindness.
Proverbs 31:26 (NKJV)
We are teachers to our children. It is our job to share our wisdom and knowledge and to teach them the ways of the Lord. This isn’t a 9 to 5 kind of job.
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. Deuteronomy 6:5-9 (NKJV)
These instructions don’t tell us to teach them to our children and then move on. We are to talk about our faith in our daily living – reminding the children constantly of what we believe and why. Sharing with them throughout the day, morning to night, no matter where we are.
And let’s go back once more to the Proverbs 31 woman!
She also rises while it is yet night, And provides food for her household,
And a portion for her maidservants. She considers a field and buys it; From her profits she plants a vineyard. She girds herself with strength, And strengthens her arms. She perceives that her merchandise is good, And her lamp does not go out by night. Proverbs 31:15-18 (NKJV)
A mother’s job is never done – our lamps do not go out – we are always on duty. Looking back through all of the scriptures it can seem overwhelming. And even for myself, I used to be very intimidated by the Proverbs 31 woman feeling like I could never live up to everything we are called to be.
But the best news is that we don’t have to live up to this woman!
We already are this woman. God has equipped us with everything that we need!
For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.
Colossians 2: 9-10 (NKJV)
We are complete in Him – and in Him alone. He is our rock and our strength, our help in times of trouble. Our job is not to be who we think we need to be. Our job is to look to God and seek him and with humble hearts, he will make us who he wants us to be.
Don’t lose heart when the days are long and the minutes seem to tick by.
Instead we can rely on Jesus to bring us through these times. Pray, read your bible, and pray more! We should cry out to God whenever we are feeling overwhelmed, or like we just can’t keep our cool for one more minute, or when chaos is ruling our households. And remember what God has promised us in His word!
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Phillipians 4:13 (NKJV)
But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.
Isaiah 40:31 (NKJV)
My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.
2 Corinthians 12:9 (NKJV)
We don’t have to be strong or perfect. We just have to believe and turn to Him.
And as we work on creating the habit of turning to him, we will find that we need “me time” less and less. Our cups will be filled to overflowing by Him!
You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.
Psalm 23:5-6 (NKJV)
Does this mean that we don’t need time away for ourselves?
But hear me out here. We won’t need time to focus on ourselves when we are fulfilled in Christ.
Does that mean we shouldn’t take time when the opportunity arises? NO!
It’s perfectly okay to have a vacation, to go to the spa with girlfriends, to hide away with a hot cup of tea and a good book, or to use the washroom by ourselves! Whatever we enjoy.
But the point of this time away is not to find ourselves, or refresh ourselves, because without Jesus we can’t do any of these things! This time will be futile and we’ll continue to need more and more because the small piece of solace we find won’t last.
The problem with “me time”.
The problem that I have with “me time” is that it is often used to try and fill what we feel like we are lacking. We use it as time where we don’t have to think about others and we want to focus only on ourselves. And if we’re not careful it can drive a really selfish attitude. Or we can find ourselves losing joy in our daily life because we are waiting for the next dose of me time.
But I understand completely the need and want to have a few moments alone, to finish a thought or a task uninterrupted, or to do something I want instead of what needs to be done.
The Top 5 Ways You Can Keep Your Cup Filled In The Every Day
1. Make time in your daily routine to read the bible.
When we instituted our morning book basket routine, the bible became the first book we read. And because I wanted it to be special for each of the kids, they each have their own bible. So, I read a story or chapter out of 3 different bibles each day! And although it’s no replacement for a great bible study it is the truth of God spoken out loud none the less.
2. Pray, pray, pray!
During my early years as a Christian I wasn’t comfortable with prayer. It felt strange to talk outloud to someone I couldn’t see. And group prayer was OUT OF THE QUESTION!
But, as I matured I began to break out of my prayer shell. I also began to realize that prayer doesn’t have to be on my knees hidden away from the world (though this type of prayer definitely has it’s place!). Prayer is a conversation between God and you.
And so I’ve developed the habit of constant conversation. Sometimes it’s praying with my children when things aren’t going as planned. Other times it can be words muttered under my breath. Or even a quiet reflection not even shared out loud but from my heart to his.
The more we include God in every aspect of our lives, the easier it becomes to turn to Him in every moment of our lives!
3. Take joy in the little things
As a young girl I babysat and then nannied for many children. I thought I had a pretty good grasp on child rearing.
However, it wasn’t until I had my own that I truly realized the sacrifice that comes with being a parent.
And every family is different, and age and stage is different. I remind myself constantly that stages pass, often too quickly when we look back on them.
I don’t get to shower as often as I would choose (I LOVE standing under hot running water). But instead of being resentful over my situation, I choose to relish the times that I can stand under the water uninterrupted for as long as I wish.
4. Remember who it is that we are serving
Repetition of daily tasks can drain the joy we used to find in them. Serving others can become tiresome. But if we turn our focus to who we are serving instead of what we are doing, it’s much easier to continue on in the right attitude.
Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’
Matthew 25: 37-40 (NKJV)
5. Remember who we are in Him
We are a children of the King! Is there anything better than that?
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name
Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!
1 John 3:1-2
I hope that what I’ve shared is helpful and encouraging.
If you enjoyed this post you might also like my motherhood encouragement in Want to know how to be the perfect mom?
My desire is not to burden us with lists of who we are meant to be. I don’t want to tell you how we should behave or what you should be like. But instead to remind one another that our shackles are broken and we are free.
All we need is Jesus and he is waiting for us!
Take heart mama and be blessed. You are doing an amazing job!
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