It's nice to be celebrated. Everyone likes to be thanked and appreciated. Most of my fellow mom friends are in the same stage I am in... we have a baby or two at home. We chase toddlers all day. We pick up spilled food from the floor, nurse a babe every few hours, and rarely get enough sleep. Raising little ones is surprisingly simple yet grueling at the same time. Some of my friends are in other stages of motherhood... they have three or four kids, they do daily school pick-up and drop-off, they might even be on the verge of the teenage years. Every season is different with its own gifts and challenges.
And on this Mother's Day, no matter what stage you are in, I hope you have a chance to rest and celebrate. I hope your children and your spouse bless you and show you a little extra kindness. I hope you get a nap or a massage or some pretty flowers if that's your thing. I hope you go out to brunch or pick up your favorite fancy coffee on the way to church.
But more than any of these things... I hope you remember the joy of motherhood is not in this one special day each spring, but in all the days before and after Mother's Day. The true joy of motherhood is pouring yourself out for these little ones in the moments that seem, on the surface, to be the hardest and least joyful of them all.
In II Corinthians Paul writes, "I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls." (12:15). Paul is talking to the church of Corinth, whose members have been sinful and catty. Basically, they are acting like toddlers. He is frustrated with them and trying to correct them, yet he ends his letter with such love. He says he will be spent for them... and not reluctantly. He will gladly be spent for their souls. He longs to see their hearts changed - repentant and joyful before the Lord.
I read this verse yesterday morning and instantly thought of motherhood. At any given moment, you might find me sighing as I pick up the cup thrown by an impatient toddler or try to clean out my child's snotty, congested nose so she can attempt to nap in the midst of her seventeenth cold of the season. You might find me taking a deep breath before I stoop down to a one-year old's level to look into her eyes as I correct her disobedient behavior and teach her about boundaries, patience, and kindness. You might see me chuckle as we say our 57th prayer of the day, because my daughter's favorite activity is to "pway!" all day long and throw her hands in the air when we say "Amen!" I probably look tired when I lug my 35 week pregnant body from bed each morning, after being up from 1-2am with a coughing child, and try to sneak in a quick quiet time before the house wakes up...
It's in these moments I feel spent. I don't know if I can wake up one more time in the middle of the night. I don't know if my swollen body and achy back can kneel down yet again to discipline my toddler. I don't know if I have any patience left to correct the food and cup throwing in a loving way.
And yet... when I think of my daughter's heart and the privilege it is to teach her about Christ and show her the Gospel every day, I realize I am being spent in the best way. I will gladly be spent and poured out for the sake of her soul. Because all these little moments, as tiring and trying as they might seem, are stitched together. I am spending myself to offer my daughter a full childhood of hope, love, protection, discipline and good news. Jesus loves her. I love her. I get to show her this love every day.
Mothers, I hope you have a lovely day today. But even if the day is not as calm and peaceful as you wished for, I hope you take joy in being spent for the souls of your sons and daughters. I hope you endure the small trials of motherhood with a gladness that points your children to the One who endured the cross with joy and was utterly spent because of his great love for us.
...Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.