To be honest, I always claimed to be a Christian since my childhood. However, it wasn’t until I became a young adult that I could make that claim with the sure confidence that God could also say that about it. Regardless, I was always one who was confident in my Christian walk…overly confident.
Right in my own eyes
Yes, these are all words that could describe my attitude toward my Christian walk. Now, obviously I did not realize it at the time, but looking back, that is how I behaved. You see, I thought that my walk was good. There were plenty of situations and circumstances that tested me, and I knew that God was proving and perfecting my faith in Him. Yet, for some reason, I thought that I had finally “gotten it” or “arrived.” Oh, how dangerous and foolish that was…to think that you are mature in Christ. Laying down yesterday evening and reflecting on God’s grace in my life, I realized that I have never had my faith more tested and tried than when I became pregnant and a mother. Let me share how this is so.
#1: Testing my Convictions
I studied the Word of God when I was single and married, and I knew a lot of things from the Word. I knew what was important to God, to the Christian life, the way I should view things, and I had convictions about those things. But becoming a parent forced me to really consider how convicted was I by my convictions.
For example, I knew being a mother and caring for my child and home were extremely important in the eyes of God, most important for wives to do. Yet, I tearfully mourned at the thought of not finishing my degree and not having the career I wanted because I was becoming a mother. In fact, I didn’t want to become a mother at that time because I thought it was so early in my life and because I wanted to have all of these other things too. I thought I had a conviction, but I found it wasn’t as strong as I thought it was.
However, my husband and I both had strong convictions about being parents and being present in our daughter’s life so that she’s not in the care of someone else for 9 hours a day. So we made the decision that I would be at home with her during the day. Let me tell you, that has not been an easy decision to live with. We both know that our quality of life would be much better if I was working. We could eat better quality food, actually be full when we finish a meal, live in a better neighborhood, have better quality furniture and other things to make our home more comfortable. But we don’t. That paycheck is stretched every month, and it gets frustrating and tiring a lot of times. But we believe that the sacrifice of being a full-time, present parent in the eyes of God was worth our own comfort.
You see, becoming a parent has made me go back to the Word of God and reconsider all the things that I ever read about children, the home, the family, and being a mother and wife. It’s made me reconsider how strongly do I believe this? Do I chalk these things up to the culture at that time or are they still significant and true today? Do I even desire to live out God’s word in this way, or do I just want to believe that things should be easier and do it?
#2: Testing my Contentment with God
Before I was a parent, I was very content with God (or so I believed). I had peace in God, and I enjoyed the work that I was doing for the most part. Yet, when I became a mother my contentment in God was so shaken. I thought: How do women do this? How can you just be at home all day with a child? How can you be happy doing this all the time?
You see, I had a hard time believing that any woman (especially the educated and career-driven type) would ever be happy being a stay-at-home mom. I thought for sure that the boredom would kill you. How can you feel like your life has any significance when that is all that you do? What about your purpose and destiny in God? Surely, this is not all that God purposed and destined for me. It couldn’t be.
I told you this was real talk, a deep reflection yesterday. But this is what I thought. In my mind I could not believe that being a wife and mother were the only things that God wanted me to do in my life. I mean, I am a Spelman College alumna. I graduated with honors. I had job opportunities that would have let me make at least $50,000 out of undergrad at my fingertips. In my eyes, God had opened all kinds of doors, and I was content with the life I thought He was giving me until it all changed, and I became a mother. Yeah, I struggled here for a while believing that this couldn’t be everything. But, let me tell you, this consideration came to my mind one day: If this is how God is most glorified in your life, can you be satisfied and content with it? Can you be satisfied that He is most glorified this way? And can you continue to be satisfied if there is nothing else that He wants you to do?
#3: Testing my Righteousness
Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Faithfulness. Gentleness. Self-control. I’m sure you’ve heard this list before….the fruit of the Spirit, the fruit you are supposed to bear continually being a child of God. Again, I thought I had down. But let me tell you, there is nothing that has tested my ability to bear any of this fruit more than being a mother.
When you are at home with a little girl who acts like she has common sense when daddy’s home but loses her mind whenever he leaves….ummm, yeah, you have a high probability of losing your cool all the time. It is so easy to see how alive your flesh is when you become a parent. Suddenly, you see all of your selfishness, anger, lack of patience, lack of self-control…everything more clearly when you have to take care of someone else. And it isn’t just taking care of her, but it’s trying to live a godly example for her to follow….that is what gets you. Plenty of people take care of their children well, but it is trying to maintain a Christ-centered home, having joy and peace present, being kind and gentle even when you’re growing more and more frustrated that proves the quality of the fruit you bear.
Example: You know how Christ taught us to forgive others. Yet, a lot of us tend to struggle with lingering resentment. I tell you the truth that you fully understand the absolute necessity of fully forgiving others and letting go of all resentment when you have a child. I have been continually challenged by having to discipline my daughter properly, forgiving her immediately, and not letting it taint the way that I treat her for the rest of day. I am admitting that it is hard. It’s gotten a lot easier, but it is always a challenge. And it is more challenging the older she gets because I want to walk out the Christian life the right way for her, but it requires a continual strength that I do not possess within myself. I need God. I need Christ. I need the Spirit, every day, hour, and moment. There is nothing in me that can do this life, this walk in a way that will actually please and glorify God. I need Him!
There is so much that I could tell you, so many examples I could give. But I think this is sufficient for now. I just wanted to say that becoming a mother has been the most challenging and rewarding thing in my life. God has used that little girl to test every aspect of my faith in Him, testing what I know to be truth, testing my obedience to His Word and the faithfulness of His promises. I can tell you that I have grown tremendously in my faith and spiritual walk, but it is all through the work of Christ. My boast is in Him. I thank God for her continually, and yet I know that it will never become any easier. It’s going to get harder and harder as the years go by. But I will say that God has truly given me a humble heart through this all. He’s taken away my pride and arrogance. By becoming a mother, He has exposed my flesh, weaknesses, and frailty. He has made me continually dependent upon Him…a posture that we ought never to get out of in the Christian life. In fact, it has all made me realize the truth of this verse:
“Yet she will be saved through childbearing-if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.” -1 Timothy 2:15
For Christian women, I fully believe that God uses the work of motherhood to perfect your faith Him and to continue the work of sanctification in her life until she meets the Lord. Truly, there are few other things that you could do that require the faith, love, prayer, discipline, and continual devotion to God as being a Christian mother trying to raise your children up in the way of the Lord.
So for all of you (man or woman) who are overly confident and boastful of your faith and life in Christ, be aware that God will test all of those things for you. He will make sure that you know that you are frail and pitiful before Him. He will make sure that you remain humble before Him because it is the only way you will continually abide in Him. Blessings to you.