Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Motherhood and Dying to Self

(The latest article I wrote for our MOPS newsletter)
Function: noun
1 : the state or condition of being entitled
2 : a right to benefits that is granted esp. by law or contract
3: the assumption on the part of a mother that she has rights that supercede the needs of her children, therefore resulting in selfishness

I honestly used to think I had certain rights. This list of rights included, but was not limited to, things such as: going to the restroom alone, taking a shower on a daily basis, taking “me” time whenever I wanted to, running a simple errand alone, getting a full night’s sleep, having quiet in my home, and being able to use only my true voice (as opposed to the high, squeaky voice that stuffed animals speak in).

Now, during the daily process of sanctification (which R.C. Sproul, Jr. refers to as “Jesus-ification”), I am slowly coming to realize what the Scriptures mean when they refer to ‘dying to self.’ It is a truly slow and sometimes grueling process, involving the startling reality that our lives are not our own, and therefore must be defined by sacrifice.

I used to consider myself a patient person. I also considered myself to be thoughtful, kind, and rather selfless. That self-image was shattered the day I gave birth. From that point forward, I now had a little mirror to my soul, a visible Holy Spirit, if you will. Children have a way of reflecting our character and heart, for good or bad. It’s funny how with each child God gives me, I become aware of another major character flaw in myself that needs correcting.

You see, it’s easy to be patient when it’s on our time schedule. It’s easy to be thoughtful when it makes us look good and we know the gesture will be returned. It’s even easy to be sacrificial to our husbands when we know they’ll appreciate it. But when it comes to mothering, we are forced to purify our motives.

Our interests, desires, and schedules must take back burner for the sake of our children’s well-being. While we certainly need an occasional break from the demands of parenting, we must be cautious not to buy into the world’s message telling us that “we deserve such-and-such”, or “we have to make sure our needs are met first”, or “we need to do something for ourselves more often”.

This sense of entitlement, or self-interest, is contrary to the overall spirit of sacrifice that Christ calls us to. As Paul says, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Phil. 2:3-4).

So take heart, continue loving your children, and “whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.” (Col. 3:23-24).

We live for others because Christ died for us.
It’s just that simple. It’s just that profound.


Grandfather said...

Again, you prove to be the apple of my eye, and a glorious arrow from my quiver, for whom I daily praise the Lord.

He is good. Your life proves it to me, day after day, dear child.

Tamber said...

You have said it much more eloquently than I think I ever could have. Thank you for sharing this with other women, especially with mothers who have decided to stay at home with their children.

Krista said...

I love this article! You use your words so well, Stephanie! And your kids are very cute, too :)

Stephanie said...

I'm so glad you all were as encouraged by reading this as I was by writing it. The Lord has been faithfully teaching me hard lessons lately, and then putting words in my head to transform those lessons into articles to write for the edification of others. It's been neat to see His hand in all this! I suppose if I weren't experiencing hard things I'd have a pretty lame MOPS newsletter and blog. I'd have to come up with various witty ways to say, "life is peachy, life is grand." ;)

Mom said...

I love this article! You have been such a joy to us. Keep up the good work with the children. I love that picture of the kids! They are such a blessing to us. Emma has been such a good sister to her little brother. We thank the Lord for your litle family. We love you very much.

Krista said...

Have I ever told you how amazing I think you are? You are one of my favorite people! Just thought you should know :)

Kim C. said...

Amen, sister! Children can be so humbling when we see our faults reflected in them - but what an opportunity for sancification. We are so often blind to our own flaws and shortcomings, but parenthood neatly solves that little problem.