Being An Undivided, Whole-Hearted Mother.

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Last year I read The Mission of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson. It is, by far, one of the best books on motherhood I have ever read. And, when I read it, my soul felt a thrill of joy. Finally, finally, a woman spoke the language of my heart for motherhood. I didn’t feel so alone anymore. Here was a woman who embraced, fully and completely, the task and call of being a mother and didn’t let anything pull her from this eternal task.

In fact, I put up a picture on Instagram the moment I dived into this kindred-spirit-of-a-book:

Now, when I say that I didn’t feel so alone anymore, I mean this: It is not that I think other mothers are less, or that their choices for their families mean they are not wholehearted. I would be lying if I said that I don’t compare, struggle with pride or insecurity. It’s just that, despite all the amazing mothers I know, who love love love their kids and do their very best, I just feel…different. Odd.

Perhaps, it is perspective. Perspective is definitely what got me here today, pursuing undivided, whole-hearted motherhood.ย You see, the reason I believe in this so deeply and passionately is this:ย I had a mother who loved us deeply, but also had a divided heart.ย There are so many reasons for that – her own upbringing, her own life experiences, insecurities – and I feel sad for her. But, because of choices she made, her children suffered.

This is not going to be a blog post bagging my mother. I love her. There are many qualities I so deeply admire in her. And she is an amazing Nanna! But part of my story is the living and working through the failures she made as a mother. Without going into details, though a loving mother with great strengths {she is better at nursing her sick children than I ever will be}, she had a divided heart. She wanted motherhood, but she wanted more too.

Is it wrong to want things outside of motherhood? No. But the plain truth of the matter is that we cannot have it all without sacrifice. Either our families get our best, or something else does. It is impossible for us to be 100% for everyone and everything.

“In that moment the two conflicted drives of my heart stood out in stark contrast – my commitment to motherhood versus my lurking desire to have life my own way. And from that moment on, I became a little clearer about which path I needed to follow if I really wanted to reflect God’s design. I began to see my children’s care and nurture as God’s best will for my life during my season as a mother… If I didn’t commit myself wholeheartedly to the demands of motherhood, I would never be able to do my best, because my heart would always be somewhere else.” ~ Sally Clarkson {emphasis mine}.

Growing up, my little child-heart sensed – then grew to know – my mother’s heart was always somewhere else. I knew my mother loved me and I relished her love. But there were parts of my life where I felt her absence. Distinctly I remember feeling forgotten, shunted aside for more important pursuits, and, verbally, that we {my brother and I} were burdens.

It is still painful now, especially since I have become a mother. The pain is raw, the vulnerability I felt as a child still lingers. But, and a great but it is, God is a God of redemption and he has redeemed my life, so deeply.ย 

“[What is] sown in weakness, is raised in power.” ~ 1 Corinthians 15:43

Only recently did God press this verse on my heart. Because of Christ, because of his blood purchased on the cross for me, all that is sown in weakness in my life can be raised in power. If we commit our pains, hurts, wounds to God, he lovingly and carefully restores goodness, truth, healing and freedom into our lives.

For me, he has raised in me a passion for wives and mothers to embrace living their lives fully for their families. I do believe this is biblical and the way it has always meant to be. But we’re broken, fallen and wayward, and we’ve lost the truth that our families need us – all of us. And I know that that can produce in us a feeling of panic, of drowning – “What about me?” we ask, “What about my needs? My dreams? My life?”

I get it. In many ways, it is natural. But in a lot of other ways, it is cultural. Our culture demands that we give ourselves up for no-one. Our lives should be determined by ourselves and if anything requires sacrifice, don’t let it swallow you.

By encouraging undivided, wholehearted motherhood, I am not saying lose your identity, or what makes you you. God made you unique and essentially you. You and your personality were written in the Book of Life from long ago, and God delights in you. But he also delights when we love others so much that we put them and their needs first. As crazy and as mental as that sounds, in the biblically-mathematically-rule-of-nature-and-life, when we lose ourselves to others, we gain life. True, abundant life.

But if you are a Christian, you know this. You know that to follow Jesus, we emulate him, and we lose our lives by giving them up for others, and we gain eternity. We know this. Yet, we’re still dipping our toes in the pools of selves along with everyone else, and we’re wondering why we’re still lost. But isn’t obvious that if we look to what is broken to fix us we’re just going to end up as messed up as everyone else? And, not just us, but our children.

As Sally realised in her early years of parenting, she couldn’t have it both ways. For the season when her children needed her, she knew that she had to put aside the pursuits that would draw her heart, her mind and her body away from her family. And that is what we need to remember, it is just for a season. It isn’t for always.

Again, I am not saying you can’t have hobbies, or outside accomplishments, or a job. But we need to make sure that get it all in the right order. Some people say we need to find balance, but I personally don’t think it’s possible. It is more that we get things in the right order. Family first, then other stuff. Our family get our best. By God’s strength and grace, they get our best. And whatever we struggle or fail in {because we will}, we pray that whatever we sow – ignorantly or deliberately – in weakness, that he would lovingly raise in power in the lives of our children.

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11 Comments

  1. I can truly understand this post; even without being a Christian. I strive to strike a healthy balance but often it does feel like it’s a question of choice above all else. Motherhood is beautiful and tough. I guess you have to do what feels right for you.

  2. Well said, Sarah. My attitude towards my children and being at home with them only began to change when I started to accept that it’s not all about me. Of course I’m a work in progress still ๐Ÿ˜‰ Thank you for sharing this.

  3. I can’t wait to get my hands on this book! I very much need a boost of inspiration for the valleys of motherhood I seem to be trudging through right now. Motherhood is such a beautiful calling, but it is also a selfless one, and our flesh so yearns to have its way at times. I love the affirmation of its significance in a world that tells us otherwise.

    On a totally different note, I just got through reading Educating the Wholehearted Child by Sally and her husband. WOW. It really gave me a new perspective for homeschooling and the discipleship of our children. I know that you were considering homeschooling, and it may offer some insights as you prayerfully consider your options. They have such a wonderful ministry, and I’m looking forward to reading more of their books. Thanks for sharing. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Veronica, I did read Educating ๐Ÿ™‚ I enjoyed it though I found it enormous and so much to think on. Their overall beliefs on education – that it is a whole-being education – is what I believe. I seem to have a little bit of lots of camps – a little Charlotte Mason, a little classical, a little whole-hearted ๐Ÿ™‚

      Friend, press into Jesus. Even if you don’t get into the word everyday, make some time to pray. Praying releases all that’s going on inside upwards and points our minds to Christ, even when we don’t want to. I will pray for you right now x

      1. As I was praying, I just thought of this phrase: “Rest in Christ”. Don’t strive to do more than you need to right now. Treasure this word:

        He tends his flock like a shepherd:
        He gathers the lambs in his arms
        and carries them close to his heart;
        he gently leads those that have young.
        ~ Isaiah 40:11

        You’re not meant to have more than feeding, caring, correcting, loving and enjoying your wee ones right now. Hugs x

      2. Thank you so very much for the prayer and encouraging words. I absolutely love that scripture. I truly appreciate your words of wisdom and will definitely take it to heart.

        I seem to have a little bit of lots of camps, too. ๐Ÿ™‚

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