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We’ve all met them – women who nostalgically recall their time as stay-at-home mothers and wish they could re-live those precious years. We stare at them in awe, wondering how they could have found the sedentary, slow-paced years of child rearing fulfilling!
Many moms cherish their children and readily acknowledge their irreplaceable value. It is, in fact, the desire to protect this value that drives families into making the costly decision to have mom stay at home. While some families are able to afford this lifestyle comfortably, many make the choice in spite of the financial constraints it brings.
Although stay-at-home moms typically embrace the preciousness of their children and the dire need to be fully available to them, they soon discover that being solely dedicated to creating a warm and stable home for their families may not be entirely satisfying in the long-term. Yes, they may want to be there for their children and husbands; they may want to apply their hearts and skills to ensuring their homes are properly managed; they may want to personally impart life lessons to their growing children; and they may want to teach godly values in an age where positive values are fading fast from the world scene. But they also find that they desire to apply their lives to other significant endeabours and long to pursue goals that harness their intellectual and professional abilities. They may also desire to work with adults, and perhaps, earn money for their labors. These, they reason, are all normal and legitimate desires.
But these moms soon discover something else – they find that their self-developmental needs bring tension into their world, for how can they fulfill these needs without compromising their crucial role in the home? At the time of this writing, I’ve been primarily a stay-at-home mom for 10 years and, like many others, I’ve had my fair share of emotional ups and downs. I have had seasons when I’ve loved what I do and others when I’ve questioned my purpose and choice.
One source of consistent encouragement throughout my journey, however, has been the Word of God. When I see the value that God places on the family unit and on children, I realize that the sacrifice of my energies and years to motherhood is not a waste. Not only does it add unquantifiable value to my children’s lives, but it also, surprisingly, plays a part in the development and advancement of God's kingdom.
THEY MINISTERED TO HIM ...
Several verses in the gospels give account of women who followed Jesus and ministered to Him while He was here on earth. These women always seemed to be present at significant points in the Lord’s ministry. For example, His mother, Mary, was a witness to the first miracle of His public ministry (turning water into wine); Mary and Martha who served Him in their home were actively involved in the miraculous raising of their brother, Lazarus; Mary anointed His body for death; the women who went to anoint His body in the tomb were the first witnesses of His resurrection; and so on.
It would appear that their availability to fulfill their feminine roles freed these women up to experience and serve the Lord. Writing to Titus about expected qualities in the church, Paul the apostle said, “Teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God” (Titus 2:3-5). It seems that their willingness to be immersed in their roles as wives and mothers prepared these early church women to become invaluable mentors within the kingdom of God.
Today, many opportunities beckon to mothers from beyond the home. Frankly, it is not always easy to let them go. But the understanding that our sacrifices create value that transcends our homes – reaching into the kingdom of God – and the fruit of our labors will live beyond the formative years of our children’s lives provides substantial motivation for what we do. This has been a source of inspiration to me, and I pray it becomes the same to many other stay-at-home moms.
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