On motherhood, joy, and the gospel

When my second son was in first grade, some ten years ago now, his teacher was expecting her first baby. As part of our end of the year festivities some of the moms gave her a baby shower on the last day of school. We moms were asked to write the expectant mom a note sharing our best mothering advice. I, the experienced mom that I was with about nine years of mothering under my belt, filled about two pages’ worth of all sorts of tips, covering everything from breastfeeding to “just enjoy it.”

Yeah, two pages. Really.

A few months ago the ladies of my church honored a sweet young couple in our church family with a baby shower and once again participants were asked to write their advice to the new mom on a slip of paper that was then collected in a jar and given to her at the close of the shower. I, the experienced mom that I am with about eighteen years of mothering under my belt, wrote just three words: “Remember the gospel.”

I guess you could say my perspective has changed.

It’s not that I think my previous counsel, all two pages, was rendered unimportant or irrelevant. No, it’s important to receive encouragement from those who have gone before; I certainly have benefited from older, wiser moms who encouraged me, sometimes with the mere fact that they did it and lived through it. Judge me if you wish, but there were days when my only goal was survival.

Survive I did, long enough to now laugh at myself just a little, me so full of opinions and eager to convince you of them. It’s funny, isn’t it, how black and white things seem to us as a mom in the trenches but once we get out–or transition from one trench to another–we realize how little we knew all along.

To my fellow moms out there, whether you be moms of little ones or moms of bigger ones, knee deep in the trenches of juice cups and play doh or wading through the trenches of college applications and first apartments, or somewhere in between: remember the gospel. Being a mom is hard work. You are a sinner and your kids are sinners and those two facts alone result in struggle and heartache and disappointment and failure. You don’t have to be a mom very long to know that truth.

Remember the gospel! Jesus saves sinful, opinionated moms, desperate moms sure they have ruined their kids perhaps forever. He gives hope and rest on those days you’ve reached the end of yourself and you are sure you cannot do this one more day. You can’t; He can. Remember that He who gave up His own Son to purchase your redemption will surely give you all that you need. He is sufficient! Your insufficiency is a blessing because it drives you to the cross and it reveals the vast measure of grace that is yours through Christ. His strength is made perfect in weakness! Remember! Rest! Rejoice!

I love being a mom. Not all or even most of my days have been of the sort I just described, though in the day-to-day grind I sometimes forget the joy and privilege that is mine. As I look back on my mothering journey, from holding that precious baby boy for the first time on a cold February afternoon eighteen-plus years ago all the way to kissing my oldest sons before they left for work and practice this morning and then watching my youngest son play basketball later today, my heart is so full I fear it could explode.

So much joy. I am grateful. I am blessed.

I know that this joy–and all joy–is granted to me for the sake of Christ, so that I may see His goodness to me and rejoice in Him. He has freely given me much: a loving husband, four wonderful children, the privilege and responsibility of motherhood. These blessings point me to the greater blessing: Christ Himself. As I compare earthly joys, great as they are, with the joy of Christ I cannot conceive of heaven. What hope we have! What joy awaits in the future grace that is ours, bought with the blood of Christ and sealed by His Spirit!

Remember the gospel. Jesus is our life, our hope, our joy.


Author: Lisa Spence

Wife, mother, Bible teacher, bibliophile, occasional blogger

9 thoughts on “On motherhood, joy, and the gospel”

  1. Tonight I had the first moment wherein I THINK your advice is (finally) starting to sink in (just a little bit). I was listening to a Steven Curtis Chapman song (oh great surprise!) and it hit me like a ton of bricks that I am representing the Gospel (and poorly at that). As you say, there is really so little that we know – that *I* know. Just keep repeating your advice though. Because whenever I rehearse what others have told me, the phrase "Remember the Gospel" sinks in and I pray I remember it and ACT as if I remember it.

  2. What great advice–and applicable to so much more than parenting. Stress at work? Remember the gospel. Teaching unruly 2nd and 3rd graders in Sunday School? Remember the gospel. Wondering why you're still single? Remember the gospel. Hearing my e-reader read this post this morning on my commute helped set me up for a day in which remembering the gospel was oh so important. Thanks.

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