Motherhood is definitely the most challenging thing I have done and likely will ever do. Though physically and mentally taxing, we are able to find strength within ourselves that we didn’t know existed—not because we are strong, but because we have a powerful God who works through us. Without Him, I am undisciplined, vain, lazy, selfish, and resentful.
At the end of a typical day, I am exhausted and have difficulty remembering what I even did that day. I may vaguely recall wiping noses and bottoms, mediating disputes, preparing and cleaning up meals, keeping school books organized, applying bandages, or being pounced on repeatedly and asked to snuggle on the couch when trying to start dinner. But what if these tasks are the ones God wants to use to make me more like Him? Instead of plowing through the mundane so that I can get to the “spiritual part,” I have found that it is in these everyday assignments that God is transforming me the most.
Musicians and athletes know that in order to reach their goals, they have to train daily. We know that our bodies and minds require daily discipline in order to flourish, so it should be no surprise that the spiritual life isn’t any different in that respect. Perhaps this is why Paul coaches Timothy: “Train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Tim 4:7-8).
Every day I confront countless situations for God to do His work in me. I’m being trained in practicing patience with a chatty eight year-old while cleaning yogurt off of a toddler’s hair; I’m being taught the lesson that I should be quicker in crying out to God when a teething infant keeps me up all night. Through God’s grace, He tutors me to do what 1 Thessalonians 5:16 commands: Be joyful always, pray continually, and in everything [even while cleaning vomit off the fourth set of bed-sheets that week…] give thanks. And after the hundredth time, I’m slowly starting to recognize these supposedly ordinary occasions as holy moments—ripe opportunities to cultivate spiritual virtues and the very place where God wants to meet intimately with me.
I knew God was working on my heart one afternoon when my toddler spilled his full cup of milk on my newly mopped floor. Instead of my usual rant and tirade, I looked at the fearful faces of my boys, took a slow breath as I calmly got out the mop and said, “Mommy is learning how to have self-control too! Thank you, Lord!”
As I walk closer with Him, God is showing me that in some ways what matters isn’t always what we do but the attitude of our hearts while we do it. Instead of feeling resentful, I strive to complete my least favorite task (dishes!) while practicing a happy heart, knowing that He sees me, for it is all done unto Him.
“This job has been given to me to do. Therefore, it is a gift. Therefore, it is a privilege. Therefore, it is an offering I may make to God. Therefore, it is to be done gladly, if it is done for Him. Here, not somewhere else, I may learn God’s way. In this job, not in some other, God looks for faithfulness.” –Elisabeth Elliot