Being a mom means doing your utmost all the time to make sure that the house is sparkling, the kids are beautiful and well-dressed, there’s a hot meal on the table every night, you have an important career, and, to top it all off, you go to the gym a few times a week to make sure you’re in good shape. At least, that’s what Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook tell us. When you don’t live up to those expectations, it can be discouraging. Believe it or not, you can skip all those things and be a fantastic mother in God’s eyes. Galatians 5:1 tells us that Christ has set us free and that we are not to submit to a yoke of slavery. Slavery comes in all shapes and sizes.
The perfect home
If you search Pinterest for home décor ideas, you’ll find big spacious rooms where everything matches perfectly. There are tasteful accents of teal and a gorgeous view outside the windows. You take mental notes and head to the store to make your house more beautiful. You spend hours decorating and redecorating your home every few week. But it is never good enough, so you always have to do more. This is not what God gave you a home for.
Don’t get me wrong, wanting your home to be a welcoming space that makes your family feel proud is not a bad thing. It just needs to be tempered by what God actually wants for you and your family. God gave you a home so you could use it for his glory. Invite friends from church over and host a Bible study. Invite unsaved friends from work or your kids’ school so that they can witness a Christian family living out their faith in daily activities (like praying before a meal). Your focus should be on making your home a place for others.
Now, that’s not an excuse to say that your home is not good enough for visitors and that it needs to be made better. Invite people over and share what you have, as is. Don’t be anxious about what they will think or about being the perfect hostess, just spend time with them and show them love (Luke 10:41-42). They will appreciate the love you show them far more than the cute coffee table you planned on making from reclaimed wood. And that love may well be what brings them to Christ. Don’t let that opportunity to be used by God pass you by; you may never get it again.
The perfect body
These days it seems like a gym membership is absolutely required by all members of society. The world is very vocal about health in recent years. If you don’t go to the gym, work out, eat organic and look like a million bucks, you are not living up to your potential. If you feed your children anything other than organic, non-processed, high-fructose-corn-syrup-free, sustainably grown, non-GMO food, you are a bad mother. If you don’t have the perfect shape, you are influencing your children to have unhealthy lifestyles and are, again, a bad mother. And heaven forbid if you are in a rush and actually feed your children McDonald’s!
Fortunately for those of us in Christ, we can rest knowing that those are just man’s rules and not God’s. 1 Corinthians 6:19 is often used to show people how important it is to take care of their bodies, and it is an important factor in our lives, no arguments there. But let’s look at what the verse says: “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?” The verse does not say that your body “will be a temple of the Holy Spirit once you detox and shed those 10 pounds of post-pregnancy weight gain,” it says that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit; the size of the temple goes unmentioned. Your body is indwelt by the Holy Spirit right now, as you are. In Luke 12:22, Jesus specifically commands us not to be anxious about your food, your body or your life. Do what you can and leave the rest in Christ’s capable hands.
What you were made for
We were made to serve God. That’s it. Moms were not made with a different purpose than all the rest of God’s creation. Moms, you are to serve God in all that you do, not your husband and not your kids. Christ has to be first in your heart, and the goal of all your actions should be to bring him glory. When you feel like you’re overwhelmed and there’s just too much to do, take a look at your to-do list. Are there items on it that are not there to please God but to please you or your family? Feel free to put those items off until you have more free time. Focus on loving the people God has placed in your life and showing them His grace. Don’t worry about how you or the house look while you’re doing it.
My mom is the most loving person I have ever known. She always cares about us and about others. She’s quick to excuse faults in others and to bring up a Bible verse to help others get through rough patches. No one notices that the house has rarely had a coherent theme or that dinner is often served on a paper plate. Those things just don’t matter.
What matters is how God wants us to live our lives, not Pinterest. If you obey God and do the things he wants you to do, He will use you in ways you could never imagine. If you lay aside the long list of to-do’s you’ve imposed on yourself and take up Jesus’ light load, you will find that you are, indeed, free. Micah 6:8 spells out what God requires from moms (and everyone): “…to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.”
A native-born Miamian, Tami Gomez is a freelance writer for the Good News while she and her husband attend Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in North Carolina. She hopes to become a missionary to the Far East. She can be reached at [email protected].