I recently finished reading Risen Motherhood by Emily Jensen and Laura Wifler. The book was thought-provoking and challenging as it applied the Gospel to everyday moments in motherhood.
Risen Motherhood seeks to bridge the gap between the “Sunday-morning faith and our Monday-morning mom life” (p. 21) The premise of the book is that the Gospel (the good news of Jesus) meets us in everyday life and shapes the way we view ourselves, our family, and our purpose.
The book looks at different topics relevant to moms (transitions, marriage, birth experiences, postpartum body image, relationships, self care, etc.) through the lens of the Gospel. Each chapter tackles one of these subjects and then applies the four main themes of the gospel: creation, the fall, redemption, and consummation.
I want to share three main thoughts that have stuck with me since I finished the book. I’ve been mulling over these truths and they have changed my perspective on my current phase of life with little ones at my feet.
The Gospel matters in motherhood
When people ask me what I do, I often laugh and say, “I wipe things. Counters, faces, floors, sticky fingers, baby bottoms, etc. I wipe them all. I am a professional wiper.”
It’s so easy to get caught up in the mundane parts of parenting that I miss the calling to use every day – the big and small moments – to worship my Creator and point my children to my Savior. Mothering, especially in the early years, can be quiet, unseen, and filled with servitude. While we have a responsibility to care for the the physical needs of our children, mothers are also “essential to the spiritual upbringing and formation of their children’s character…parents should train their children in wisdom (discerning right from wrong) and faithfully discipline with love and self-control” (p. 35). The authors encourage young moms with the idea that “all our quiet acts of obedience will be seen, rewarded, and praised for the glory of God” (p. 38).
Yes, there are many exciting moments in motherhood: there are a lot of firsts to record, a lot of milestones to celebrate, and a lot of satisfaction when you finally see major progress in your children. But there are also a lot of not-so-exciting moments in motherhood: The tantrums, the attitudes, the fighting, the repeating-myself-every-single-day, the sickness, the feeling of being overwhelmed, etc.
But there is hope for the moms in the trenches. I have this passage printed out on a notecard next to my kitchen sink:
“It might be mundane to fold laundry, but it’s extraordinary to do it patiently with joy and a heart of love. It might be mundane to sit on the couch and read another book to a whiny four-year-old, but its extraordinary to show kindness and mercy to an undeserving sinner. It might be mundane to fill the fridge with groceries, but it’s extraordinary to praise God for his provision. Our everyday moments might be ordinary, but when we accomplish them while displaying the fruit of the Spirit, they reflect our extraordinary Savior” (p. 85)
Too often we begrudge the mundane and mistakenly think that life will be better when…they finally sleep through the night, they’re finally out of diapers, we finally have our dream house, my husband gets a better job, I can stay home with my kids, etc. Chapter 5 encourages moms that much of life is lived in the in-between, and “the in-between is where God does some of his best work of making us more like Christ.”
I want to live my life, fully present in the “in-between,” so that Christ can shine through me and I can “live an authentic gospel life before [my] children, teaching and training them with diligence, perseverance, and hope” (p. 191).
Motherhood is made up of a million tiny moments of worship
Paul David Tripp said, “Worship is not something we do; it defines who we are. You cannot divide human beings into those who worship and those who don’t. Everybody worships; it’s just a matter of what, or whom, we serve.”
We were created to worship. However, after the Fall, human beings have exchanged their worship of the Creator for worship of the created (p. 36), namely themselves. As I started the chapter, I arrogantly thought, “Hmm maybe I should skip this section. Most days I’m doing a pretty good job. I’m a fun, organized Mom who talks to my kids about Jesus. I don’t have a worship problem. And then a line hit me straight in the heart: “we even worship our ability to be a good mom” (p. 36)
After reading this, I chose to go through my day intentionally noticing the number of times I worshipped. I started out the day really well: (1) I woke up early and had my quiet time with the Lord, reading His Word and praying, (2) I listened to worship music while I (3) made breakfast for my family (serving them with a cheerful attitude). But my children hadn’t been downstairs for even an hour when things started going downhill and I resorted to worshipping myself, focusing on (1) my unmet needs, (2) my perfectly-planned schedule, and (3) my selfish desire to control each situation and all the tiny humans that live in my house. I found myself echoing Laura when she said, “I worshipped control and worldly perfection” (p. 94).
This section made me pause and evaluate my priorities, my motives, and the condition of my heart. I’m so thankful I worship a forgiving Father who sees my faults, my inadequacies, and my pride – and He chooses to love me anyway. Every day I want my children to see me as a mom whose life is defined by worship of the Creator.
God can be glorified through imperfection
Too often I think God loves it when I do things for Him perfectly. I strive to be consistent in my quiet times, to be present and intentional with my kids, to serve my neighbors, etc. These are all good things, but the problem lies when I seek to do these things in my own power and if I can’t do each thing perfectly, I get discouraged and want to just throw in the towel. I love starting my day in the quiet hours of the early morning, before anyone else wakes up, with a candle burning, a cup of hot coffee, and dedicated time to read my Bible. I enjoy the peaceful picture-perfect time of study, reflection, and prayer. But, too often for my liking, I forget to set my alarm, my solitude is interrupted by a toddler visitor, my coffee spills, etc. and I think This is just great! Now my time with the Lord is ruined and this day is going to be rough! But chapter 18 encourages us:
“Perhaps we need to set aside our perfect version of Bible study and engage right where God has [us]…developing a deeper understanding of the gospel is less about crafting the perfect quiet time and more about seeing him throughout our whole day -crumbs, stains, screams, and all. It’s firmly, adamantly, stubbornly pursuing God with our whole life.” (p. 201).
I’m learning to lean in to the messy imperfection of everyday life and trust that God can and will be glorified through the chaotic, not-so-instagram-worthy moments. My kids will see a mom who does not always have it all together. They will see a mom who loses her temper, who cares too much about what others say and think, and who worships herself and her needs far too often. But I’m praying they also see a mom who clings to the hope of the Gospel every single day.
Those were just a few nuggets of wisdom and truth from the book! I highly recommend Risen Motherhood by Emily Jensen and Laura Wifler.
>>> You can order the book on Amazon here: Risen Motherhood