Welcome back to Part 2 of our interview with Elizabeth of Grace and Pieces of Wisdom! If you missed Part 1, you can find it here. This week’s is a little short, but full of wisdom. If you are just joining us, Rejoicing in Motherhood is a series primarily for Christian moms, discussing how to rejoice in this season when it’s achingly hard as well as when it is easy peasy. Now let’s jump right in to part 2!
Have you ever been tempted to make an idol of your motherhood or your children? How could rejoicing in motherhood turn into idolizing it in this season?
Absolutely! As the wise John Calvin once said, “The human heart is an idol factory.” Motherhood is one of God’s most supreme blessings, I believe, on this side of eternity. Naturally, it is tempting to hold motherhood with a closed hand and treasure it more deeply than Christ.
One of the toughest challenges in this area for me is that motherhood is all-encompassing… it is a never-ending, day-and-night, all-you-have job. It’s also a huge responsibility that can easily require a lot of mental, emotional, and physical energy. Now, I honestly don’t think any of those realities necessarily mean idolatry. But, it can become idolatry when motherhood is understood as an ultimate end, when everything you are and do is all for the ultimate goal of being a good mom.
If being a good mom is all I care about, it will crush me. If I fail, I would despair. If I succeed, I would forget God in my pride. “Rejoicing in motherhood” makes a pitiful god because motherhood cannot satisfy the deepest longings of my heart. Only the One True God can do that, and He’s the one who deserves my worship. That means that motherhood’s proper position is as a means of worshiping and enjoying God, not the other way around.
Reflect for a moment on James 1:2-4. How does this apply to motherhood?
“(2) Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, (3) for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. (4) And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
(James 1:2-4, ESV)
Christian joy is often concurrent with trials. This idea is insane, if you really think about it, unless you read on to v.3-4, which give explanation for why there is any cause for joy amid trials. Answer: trials test your faith, which produces steadfastness (or endurance), which plays a vital role in your sanctification (or becoming more like Christ with perfect faith and righteousness). And growing in Christ-likeness is always a cause for joy.
Malachi 3:2-4 uses a metaphor, referring to the faith of God’s people, that “he is like a refiner’s fire […] He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver […] Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD […].”
Gold must be refined because it contains impurities that decrease its value. In the refinement process, a goldsmith would use fire to heat the gold. This causes impurities to rise to the top where he can see them and remove them. When this process is finished, the gold is pure and of full value.
This is like our faith in the trials of life. Our faith is like gold, but it’s full of impurities because of our sin. Trials are like the refiner’s fire, putting stress on our lives and hearts, causing sin and impurity to rise to the surface. (Example: I was ignorant of my impatience before becoming a mom, but sleepless nights forced my impatience to the surface.) Then, God, our Divine Goldsmith, helps us to shed those impurities, leaving our faith purer than before. This is a lifelong process, but one day, when Christ returns, we will finally see him as he truly is and be fully transformed to perfection (1 John 3:2-3). Motherhood, along with the rest of life, is part of God’s foreordained plan for purifying our faith. In that, no matter how much sleep we’ve gotten, we surely must rejoice.