The first story I ever wrote about motherhood was titled, “My Children Aren’t Perfect.” It told about my original Glorious Vision of Motherhood. I believed that if I poured all my love and time and just the right bits of research, learning, and training into my children; they would be practically perfect. With each passing year the truth became more and more ruthless in wrestling my pride and ignorance. Finally I saw my Glorious Vision as what it truly was – a grotesque idol that must come toppling down.
When the dust settled, all I had were broken pieces of my dream and a tentative hope – that God could make something beautiful with my imperfect mothering and messed up children.
Now six years later I am confident that He is writing a masterpiece with my broken life! Of course He can bring eternal glory out of my flawed motherhood. Of course He can with yours! That was His plan all along, and our imperfections are just interesting details that add conflict and excitement to His story.
During the drudgery of dirty diapers, emotional outbursts, and broken car doors when you are in a hurry to get somewhere; it is nice to set our sights on something lovely. What does all our “day to day” hustle really mean?
When I was feeling so sick with my 10th pregnancy, God began to show me His Glorious Vision for my Motherhood. I had been sitting on the sofa for about a month. To pass the time I would try to read books. Still I would have to stop every so often to put the book down, close my eyes and just breathe.
“I am fine. This nausea will pass. I will not feel wretched forever. I just need to get through this day, this hour, this moment, this next chapter of my book.”
Then I would continue to read, to try and escape how I felt, and to enter into another life more pleasant than my own. Janette Oak books were always a good choice; interesting, sweet, and encouraging. Perhaps you have read her famous book that began her famous series, Love Comes Softly. I didn’t read the entire series, but I read one of the very last books, The Tender Years.
A scene at the beginning of the book captured my imagination. The original heroine, Marty, was now in her 80s. She was helping in the kitchen with all the daughters and granddaughters as they prepared a feast for a family reunion. One of her daughters urged Marty to sit down and take a rest, and she did so gladly. That gave her time to think about her many descendants that were all around her, romping in the yard, or in far-away places. Marty knew each one by name. She knew where they were and what they were doing. She knew their infinite value, carried them in her heart, and constantly remembered them in her prayers.
I counted each name she listed (which included children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and all of their spouses). One Hundred and fifty! That was the number of her progeny. I was impressed and amazed! She and her husband Clark had 5 children. I had 10! Marty began to fade out of my mind and I imagined myself at 80. I was vibrant and healthy, excited about having most of the family home to eat around our huge tables and play around our large country home. I could have more than 150 in my brood, and I began to get so excited!
In the moment I was still feeling listless and weak. But my spirit perked up as I realized that someday I would get my energy back. Someday I would enjoy playing and learning new things with my children again. Someday even further down the road, it will no longer be me who is pregnant. It will be my daughters and my daughters-in-law. I will be able to help and encourage them!
Someday I will help cook and clean for them. I will snuggle newborns and chase after toddlers. I will babysit, read books, and do art projects. I will encourage my children and grandchildren and pray for them by name. I will rejoice with every wedding and every new life!
And while I am living my normal and mundane mom-life, my descendants will be slowly and surely taking over the world!
I closed my eyes and this is the vision that God gave me. Chris and I had grown together to become the trunk of a mighty oak tree. The more we press into God, the deeper our root system grows down into the fertile soil. We have sprouted 9 strong, tall branches that will produce many branches of their own. We also have a special branch that is smaller and more twisted than the others. Although she most likely won’t sprout any new branches, her life and her fruit are indispensable to our family. Together we are a magnificent tree, the kind that dominates the landscape and produces much fruit. The kind that offers shade to the burnt-out, rest to the weary, and shelter to the storm-tossed.
Like it says in Is 61:3, “we will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.”
This vision of the mighty oak gives me strength and encouragement on the hard days. I am living for the long term benefits, not immediate comfort. Lots of crap happens in life. Sometimes storms come and tear off the fruit. Sometimes the branches are in danger of being cut off. The floods come and threaten to wash us away. The droughts come and jeopardize our green leaves.
I know that as long as we press into God, our roots will always tap into His water, His life, His Holy Spirit just like in Jer 17:8 and Ps 1:3. Those roots are the anchor that keeps us steady and firm.
I got through that difficult pregnancy, got through the difficult labor, got through the difficult recovery and have begun to get my energy and enthusiasm back. I have been able to enjoy my jewel of a baby girl while at the same time joyfully anticipate the future babies that my own children will have in the coming years.
God took this vision one step further for me recently at church. I had my eyes closed during worship and I was thinking about all the trials we had endured and were still enduring. Then I saw our family as a mighty oak tree again – tall and strong and green. I saw our roots go deeper and then deeper still with each hardship. This continued until the roots hit molten lava.
The lava traveled up the roots and soon the entire tree was ablaze. Yet it wasn’t consumed as a normal tree would have been. It was like Moses’ burning bush; still vibrant, still alive, yet on fire. What a sight to behold!
Then I remembered that I had been asking God to put fire in our hearts. A fire for Him that would never be quenched. A fire which would burn away all other “gods”, which would give us zeal and energy to pursue Him to our dying breath. A fire that would continue and even increase down through the generations.
It seemed like God was saying, “If everything that comes your way in this life causes you to go deeper with me, your prayer WILL be answered. It is happening even now.”
A fiery, flourishing, expansive tree reaching the whole earth with its branches heavy laden with fruit – that is God’s Glorious Vision for my Motherhood.
It is a vision I consider worth living and dying for. It is a vision that I know that I can’t accomplish. I have very little control over who my children marry, how many children they have, or the length or quality of their lives. I can’t anticipate the wrong choices, the tragedies, or the sorrows that may come. Nor can I imagine the intensity of the triumphs and joys.
Yet I know that God will accomplish His purpose for us. It is HIS vision! And if I am able to make it to 80 and take in with my own eyes the powerful world-changers I helped to bring forth; it will be all His doing!
Perhaps you don’t have as many children as I do. Perhaps you have more. You might even have a beautiful menagerie of spiritual children, adopted children, God-children, or step-children…charming, amazing, and exasperating children! Each family tree is unique and one of a kind. Each has a special purpose. Have you asked God to show you His Vision for YOUR Motherhood? Go ahead…I dare you!