A few years ago, a friend passed along a book called “The Missional Mom: Living with Purpose at Home and in the World.” In the book, award-winning author Helen Lee writes about how she believes moms have the ability and the calling to change the world for the better.
Wait a minute. Change the world? But I have so little available time.
When I first started reading it, something in me was yearning to do more…more than just change diapers, do laundry, make sure dinner would be on the table that evening. But, the thought of “more” was daunting. My day already seemed full of tasks and to-dos. How could I possibly add something as intimidating as “change the world” to my list? And, what would it look like?
- Do a load of diapers.
- Return client phone call.
- Walk the dog.
- Find missing Thomas the Train.
- Change the world.
But, I do believe Helen is on to something in her book. From the first page, I began to relate to where she was coming from. In the beginning of the book, she talks about Molly the Barn Owl—an Internet sensation when she built her nest in a nesting box that had a webcam in it. As Molly laid her eggs and cared for her babies, motherhood seemed to come naturally to her, which made Helen question her own purpose and place in life after becoming a mom. She wondered how it seemed to come so naturally for Molly, but not for herself. I know I had similar questions and uncertainties when I became a mom. Was diaper duty and milk producer the extent of my purpose? And, I know Helen and I are not alone in those feelings.
When I asked Helen about this, she said, “We become totally confused by the cultural messages around us that tell us we are bad mothers if we don’t give every part of ourselves to our kids. But I have found, for myself and for so many moms I know, when you start getting caught up in that mentality, it leads to feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and ultimately dissatisfied. In the end, only following after God’s purposes first and foremost can we live with a certainty about where our lives are headed.”
But how can we find that purpose and mission for our lives, especially when external factors stand in the way? As Helen said, “The culture is a huge factor for us here in America. It’s pushing us to be overinvolved parents who put their trust in their children’s futures and who feel the need to orchestrate every aspect of their kids’ lives in order to ensure they will be successful in the way that culture defines. I see Christian parents caught up in this race just as much as non-Christian parents. It’s a huge stumbling block for us all to be engaged in child-centered parenting rather than seeing God’s mission as being central to our lives.”
While I have seen for myself how child-centered rearing can be a stumbling block, I also know from experience that there are stages when children do need more time, attention and energy, especially in the early years. Thankfully Helen mentioned that in the book:
“After I started to have my kids, my world got really small,” says Shayne Moore, the “Global Soccer Mom.” “I wish someone would have told me that was appropriate, that it was okay my world became smaller when I started to have babies.”
Elisa Morgan, president emeritus of MOPS International and publisher of Fullfill (www.FullFill.org), an online resource encouraging leadership development in women of all stages and spheres, says that “women need to give themselves a great deal of grace. Most of the time, we are not going to have our most effective influencing years outwardly when our children are very young….” [page 184]
Those few sentences spoke so much to me. Growing up, I was always asked what I wanted to be, but motherhood was never one of the options. That was always just a sidebar. “Oh, sure, you can be a mom, BUT what CAREER do you want?…” So, I just began to assume that motherhood was a sidebar, that motherhood was something you did in the evenings or on weekends. Imagine my surprise when my first child was born and reality hit. There was no sidebar. There was only an all-encompassing new role that I was left to figure out for myself.
That’s why those sentences meant so much to me. Yes, I want to be a world changer, but there are life stages when my most “effective influencing” is more inward than outward. This is the stage I’m in. This is the stage that many of you readers are in. So, I want to offer you encouragement. I know many of you want to make a difference and want to change the world alongside me. And, we can. We don’t have to hit the pause button until the elementary or tween or teen years. There is still much we can do right now, but with more realistic expectations, we can realize it’s on a different scale. But how can we do that? Thankfully Helen has some suggestions:
“Even when you are in the stage when your children are young and your time and energy are limited, there is still so much you can do to become aware of the needs around you and possibly even to make a difference in those areas of need. Subscribe to email newsletters of organizations dealing with global needs. Pray for those needs whenever you have a chance during the day. Pray for your neighbors and for opportunities to be a light in their lives even in your brief interactions with them. When you are out and about with your kids, recognize that you are a missionary for God wherever you are, and you can bring the love of Christ into each and every interaction you have–with the person checking our your groceries, with other moms you come in contact with. You can embrace a missional perspective that doesn’t add more time into your lives; it just reorients your life so that you understand its true purpose and you live it accordingly.”
So tell us, do you find comfort and encouragement in Helen’s words? How can you be a missional mom?
Please note, this is not a sponsored post, though I do receive a portion of each purchase made via the Amazon associate links.