In an interview with a prominent speaker and author in a leading Christian women’s magazine, the interviewee told of her experience as a young wife and mother saying “I felt neglected. And I hated my life. I mean, hated it. Okay? And then I started hating my husband. I felt like I was doing everything for everybody and getting nothing in return.” She went to the doctor who gave her the advice to “go out and get a job, to do something to satisfy me.” He also instructed her to talk to herself with only affirming, positive messages: “so I looked in the mirror and started talking to myself. I still do that. Every day I tell myself how cute I am. We can’t wait for people to affirm us or our joy goes underground.” At this point in her life, she testifies: “I began to find me.”
This makes me sad. While she says some things that are indeed true, like we cannot frame our sense of worth around the affirmation of others, I am sad that serving her husband and children as a stay at home mom is seen as “getting nothing.”
I know, I know, some moms must work, I get that. Some moms see their jobs as their calling from God, I get that too. But what I hear here is that raising children is an unfulfilling, unsatisfying task and that, for this author being interviewed, preserving her sense of self was more important and more critical than being home. Truly there are a myriad of reasons why women choose to work, but she had to “find herself”? I can’t help but think of Jesus’ words in Matthew 10:39, calling His disciples to lose themselves for His sake.
Sure, being a mom is hard. Sure, I have days just like you and just like this author where I feel lost, where I feel like I’m getting nothing in return for my efforts, when I’d give anything for a “real” job with “real” accomplishment. Days like today where I feel trapped in an endless cycle of mundane, pointless tasks and I resent every single one of them. But then I remember: I am not called to satisfy me, to affirm myself, nor to find myself. My calling is not to my comfort, but to the cross of my Lord Jesus.
From Death by Love from Mark Driscoll:
The theology of glory celebrates what human beings can do based on their personal vision, self-discipline, and hard work. The theology of the cross celebrates what Jesus alone can accomplish for us, through us, with us, and in spite of us. The theology of glory seeks to know God directly in his power, wisdom, success and glory. The theology of the cross seeks to know God through the seeming weakness, folly, failure, and shame of the crucified Jesus. The theology of glory seeks to use God to avoid suffering, hardship, pain, shame, loss and failure. The theology of the cross seeks to see suffering, hardship, pain, shame, loss and failure as opportunities to grow in an understanding, appreciation, and emulation of the crucified Jesus. The theology of glory seeks to use God to obtain health and wealth. The theology of the cross seeks Jesus, even if that should mean experiencing pain and poverty like Jesus.
At the cross of Jesus, we learn that to be like Jesus means we pick up our cross and follow him as he commanded (Matt. 16:24). Practically, this means that we glorify God by allowing hardship, pain and loss to make us more and more like Jesus. The false teaching of American Christianity Lite is that comfort is a virtue and pain a vice.
While I certainly wouldn’t equate being a stay at home mom with suffering (though there are times…), the thought occurred to me: we are all theologians and our theology, what we profess to believe (or not) about God, manifests itself in the way we live, perhaps most particularly for we women in our roles as wives and moms. To which theology do I subscribe? My comfort? Or the cross?
He must increase, but I must decrease. John 3:30
Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Matt. 10:39
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ… Gal. 2:20
For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 1 Cor. 2:2