I like beautiful things. I like to create beautiful things and I like to have beautiful things surround me. Nine months ago I entered the wonderful, hard, joyful, and exhausting world of motherhood. And anyone who’s been with a baby longer than ten minutes knows that a baby, while absolutely adorable and precious, is not always beautiful. Babies are messy. They spit up, they poop, they make messes everywhere in the house. While this season of my life has been incredibly, sweet, and life-giving, it has also been one of the most challenging times of my life. I’ve discovered that it is easy to feel fruitless and inconsequential in the mundane tasks of being a wife and mother. Motherhood has taught me that I can’t run away from hard things, that endurance is an essential part of life, and that I sometimes have to fight to find beauty in the midst of the messiness of life. When I think about the past nine months, two verses come to my mind.
“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
The way that Paul transitions in Romans 5 from suffering to hope is beautiful. Not because he is saying that if we just try harder and push through our suffering, we will gain hope, but because God’s love has been poured into our hearts, and therefore our sufferings transform our character and produces hope in our lives. We can’t run the race of life with endurance by our own strength. Like Hebrews says, the only way we can endure is by looking to Jesus who endured the most excruciating thing that anyone could experience, separation from God the Father. But Jesus knew the joy that was set before him, and he was therefore able to endure the cross.
How does this relate to the challenges of motherhood? When the mundane tasks of cleaning the house, changing diapers, rocking a sick baby, putting away toys for the 10th time that day, feel pointless, I can have hope the Lord is refining my character and making me more like himself.
For example, before I got married, the way I handled conflict was that I didn’t. When I became a wife, I had to learn how to deal with disagreements in order to maintain a healthy marriage. Now, as a mother, I have to learn how to deal with a crying, selfish, needy baby 24/7. I can’t run away from this conflict. I can’t just give Ellie back to her parents when she starts screaming, I am her parent! I have to overcome my fear of this struggle in order to care for my family. But how do we overcome our fears and how do we find joy and beauty in the midst of the mundaneness and challenges of life? Thankfully the Lord is gracious and doesn’t ask us conquer our fears by ourself. He is teaching me that I cannot run through this life on my own strength. I can’t maintain patience, kindness, and peace through sheer will power. I will fail. I consistently need the love and grace of God poured in my life.
I still fail every day but God’s grace is unlimited. I also need to remember the joy that is set before me. The joy of raising another generation to know Jesus, and hopefully to show them how to bring more light into this dark world. When my days seem to drag on and my near future appears to be nothing but doing the same tasks over and over again, I can think about not just the immediate future, but my eternal future, and the eternal future of my children. I am truly blessed to have the privilege of raising my children to know and experience the hope and joy that Jesus gave me. That is beautiful.
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