29 “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” 30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. 31 Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate. Proverbs 31:29-31 (NIV)
I have never met a mother who believes that they have mastered the task of “mothering”. Even when the kids have turned out “okay”, whatever that means, they look back and wish that they had done more of this, less of that or none of something else. It is not a science, I’m not sure if it’s a skill. It is perhaps instinctive? And then everything that you have figured out gets messed up with each succeeding child. It is an experience sometimes exhilarating, sometimes terrifying, sometimes elating, sometimes devastating that passes all too quickly. Most of us have “flash” memory of our children and wonder how in the world it could have raced past us so quickly. We have flash backs, flash pictures and mental images that flash across our minds that we can’t capture. If a mother sees a desirable response from her children, she should praise God and avoid the natural tendency to take credit and if the response is short of her expectations she should never beat herself up. Children who are seemingly parented to perfection stray for a variety of reasons and some of the seemingly well adjusted adults in our society come from extremely difficult upbringings and disadvantaged or even abused situations.
I believe with all my heart that God is the strongest ally that parents can have when it comes to his “providential parenting”. No human being can run away from the voice of God where He cannot be heard or create enough noise and distraction to drown him out. He will be heard when we are out of breath from running or hoarse from noise making and when the party is over, He is there waiting in the stillness. You can’t escape God. You came from Him, you’ll return to Him and you’ll answer to Him.
Often in times like this we rightfully honor our mothers. I feel dwarfed by my wife when I watch the way that she juggles her responsibilities and manages her work outside and inside the home. She is “Maxi-Mom” in my eyes. On Mother’s day we try to say “thanks” and to give them accolades. On Father’s Day we often beat them up. We do not use the same “gentle” approach that we do with our Moms.
This year for both Fathers’ day and Mothers’ Day, I want to seek a balance somewhere between honor and challenge. Today I want our mothers to feel every special emotion that there is to be felt. We offer our sympathy to those who still mourn their mother’s passing. That pain can be fresh after years of absence. We acknowledge the fact that some have few if any pleasant memories of a devoted, loving mother. There may be those here today who are estranged from their moms. I hope there is the possibility or reconciliation for those cases and trust that you will be receptive to His sweet Spirit today. There are those today who are childless by chance and choice – somehow, I believe that there is the noble heart of a mother there and we pray that you can be stirred and challenged to see God unfold His beautiful plan for you. His plan embraced will bring you His best because it is Plan A not Plan B. We have single folk here today who smart from divorce. You shoulder the responsibility with no back up – no reinforcements. It’s overwhelming by times but you are making it day to day, trusting and hoping like crazy that there is enough gas in the tank to do your job so well that your kids are unaffected by the absence of a father. I think that this is where my heart lies primarily today because I watched my own mother sail those turbulent waters. It took everything that she had. Thanks Mom. And we have our young unmarried women. Bless your mothers today and one day all too soon you will be where they are trying before God to find His way and His help. Too all of you today we love you, we honor you, we thank God for you.
And now for a little challenge, moms, all of you want to be better. As long as you are alive you will have this role, this capacity, this opportunity to impact others in a Maxi-Mom way. You want to do it to the best of your ability and how can that be done? Some are already seeking out the different approaches and I want to look at a couple of those strategies and suggest a couple options as well.
1. You could aspire to be Mom P.R.O. This is not the position of a mercenary and I don’t think there are any true experts. Mom P.R.O. is the mother who has a Personal Relationship with Oprah. In other words you seek any wisdom that you can possibly find and Oprah packages hers a little better than some others so you rely on the things that you can glean from Oprah and other public and published gurus. There are good insights to be gained there for sure but this world can be a conflicting collection of differing perspectives that can leave a conscientious mother more confused when the dust on the TV screen has settled. You see, Oprah doesn’t live in your home and she doesn’t know your child.
Somebody said it takes about six weeks to get back to normal after you've had a baby.
Somebody doesn't know that once you're a mother, normal is history.
Somebody said you learn how to be a mother by instinct.
Somebody never took a three-year-old shopping.
Somebody said being a mother is boring.
Somebody never rode in a car driven by a teenager with a driver's permit.
Somebody said if you're a "good" mother, your child will "turn out good."
Somebody thinks a child comes with directions and a guarantee.
Somebody said "good" mothers never raise their voices.
Somebody never came out the back door just in time to see her child hit a golf ball through the neighbor's kitchen window.
Somebody said you don't need an education to be a mother.
Somebody never helped a fourth grader with his math.
Somebody said you can't love the fifth child as much as you love the first.
Somebody doesn't have more than one child.
Somebody said a mother can find all the answers to her child-rearing questions in the books.
Somebody never had a child stuff beans up his nose.
Somebody said the hardest part of being a mother is labor and delivery.
Somebody never watched her "baby" get on the bus for the first day of kindergarten.
Somebody said a mother can do her job with her eyes closed and one hand tied behind her back.
Somebody never organized seven giggling Girl Scouts to sell cookies.
Somebody said a mother can stop worrying after her child gets married
Somebody doesn't know that marriage adds a new son or daughter-in-law to a mother's heartstrings.
Somebody said a mother's job is done when her last child leaves home
Somebody never had grandchildren.
Somebody said your mother knows you love her, so you don't need to tell her.
Somebody isn't a mother.
Conclusion: God has chosen you as the mother of your children and you are the resident expert. No one else can tell you how to raise your children until they have had that challenge and responsibility themselves. Don’t try to be Mom P.R.O..
2. You may already be Mom S.T.D.. This does not necessarily mean Mom Standard. It is common to many mothers. I don’t think that I would recommend that a lady aspire to be this. It means Mom Scared To Death. Do you remember looking into the eyes of your child for the first time and realizing that you were the primary caregiver for this eternal soul packaged in flesh and bone? Their physical, emotional, social, intellectual, spiritual well-being was entrusted to you. No wonder mothers experience post partum depression. And you thought changing diapers and sleep deprivation was bad. It never gets easier, the challenges just become different. I know grandmothers here today who experience heartache for their kids and grand kids that is worse than anything that they knew when they were brand new parents.
Many mothers parent in fear. Parenting out of fear often creates the very things we wish to avoid. They worry about many things that never happen. As long as you live and love you will worry and spend anxious moments and unimaginable amounts of emotional energy hoping and praying the best for your kids. I don’t know how to take that away from moms.
But what you can do mothers, is to avoid acting out of your fears, parenting out of your fears, trying to control things that are beyond your ability to control. You will either raise fearful children or rebellious children. I believe that it is preferable and possible to raise faith-filled children.
Avoid assuming the attributes of God.
ü Momniscience – God knows everything about us. He is the only one who can handle such knowledge. Don’t think that you know everything about your kids. Don’t be driven to find out everything about your kids. They need some degree of privacy as well as you do. Respect it.
ü Momnipotence – God is all powerful. We are not. He can exercise providential guidance in our lives beyond our knowledge. When we try, we become control freaks. No one wants to be badgered by one of those. You can’t control every outcome. Your children might not choose the vocation that you wish you had chosen – that’s okay. They might not go to college – everyone doesn’t have to. They might be a disinterested student and lack motivation – people are not defined by their experiences in school good or bad. They will fall in love with someone who doesn’t meet your expectations. Be wise sometimes our kids run to the people that we try to keep them from.
ü Momnipresence – God can be everywhere at once – you can’t. You will try, many times. Sometimes it’s your fault, sometimes it’s your kids fault. You see if you try to keep your kids busy in order to keep them out of trouble; you need to realize that you will be as busy as they are and hopefully you have learned by now to stay out of trouble yourself without being busy. This is a classic S.T.D. strategy. Also, I think we needs to help our kids learn how to breathe, how to slow down and live life by a reasonable set of priorities rather than being driven to fill every empty spot on our schedules with busy-ness. If they can’t learn to be still they will have difficulty hearing God. Teach your children that they can’t be involved in everything. Teach them that they have to make choices. Teach them that most parents don’t have the money to provide every distraction that comes along. You can do this by saying “no”. While this is not politically correct and we “fear” that we will traumatize our children by denying them, there are times when they gain a better perspective on life by realizing that there are limitations on time, money, talent and the list goes on. As much as they need to discover their talents and to develop them it is a real-life lesson for them to discover areas in which they are not talented. You see it you want them to play basketball like you did and they are not interested, this can be an area of conflict. If you are able to convince them that they want to play and they are terrible at it then you are going to spend a lot of time arguing with their coach who doesn’t recognize your child’s obvious talents. You know what else? You’ll drive yourself crazy while you’re driving your kids wherever it is that they are going.
Don’t parent out of fear mom. There are wonderful promises in God’s Word that need to be claimed and utilized. More than Jesus said anything else in the N.T, he said “fear not”.
3. Or you could decide that you are going to be a MOM L.E. That’s Limited Edition. This is where a number of you are going to have to stretch with me today. Remember, at my best, I am just a man. What do men know?
You see, I don’t think that the Bible tells us explicitly how to mother or father correctly. As a matter of fact there are so many roles that we play in our lives that require wisdom and skill and tact. I think that God’s divine preoccupation in our lives is the transformation of our hearts and lives as we offer ourselves without reserve to Him. How do I become the best Christian plumber that I can be? You can go to school to learn the techniques and skills necessary to become a plumber. We don’t go to school to learn to become a Christian. You have the presence of God within, His Word as a field manual and life in which to practice.
You don’t need to be a Christian to be a mother, but you need all the help that you can possibly get. I believe that a vital experience with Christ potentially makes us better at whatever role we are thrust into.
So if you want to be a limited edition mom there are two elements unrelated perhaps that are worth consideration. I’d like to challenge you toward them today. I understand that they will not both be applicable to everyone today in terms of your current circumstance. One is totally applicable, the other may not be right now but may be in the future for some.
ü The most intimate relationship that a human being can know in this life is a relationship with God. Often this is a neglected relationship. We live as blind beggars in the kingdom of God. We are blind because our eyes are closed and we our eyes are closed because our hearts are closed. While God wants us to know Him as intimately as He knows us we are “stand-offish”. Consequently we are overwhelmed by life’s obstacles because we cannot see them as God sees them. While the Bible is vague relative to school of mothering, it is precise relative to the school of discipleship. Let me ask you today about your commitment level when it comes to pursuing the heart of God. Do you love Him enough to allow Him to shape and mold your children? When they tell you what God has put in their hearts can you get on board and help them to fulfill God’s will for their lives even if it does not match you dreams for them? If you know God’s heart intimately you will be able to do this.
ü You were created to complete man. Man was alone and it was not good enough. You were the upgrade. You have something that man lacks. If man just needed company, God could have created another man. But two men together would still be alone in God’s eyes. They still would not be good enough. You bring completion to the man and in so doing fulfillment for yourself. I have read before that one of the greatest ways to love your children is to love your spouse. I believe that. The witness of a Christian home was electrifying to me when my home was falling apart. It was safe and secure. There was peace there. I was determined to have a home that was a witness to others. I knew that the key was to actively, consistently love my wife. You see, you married your husband, not your children. As long as that relationship with your husband is intact, you have a framework to rear children that is powerful. Now let me say here as well that I am confident that single parents can provide this for their children as well. The relationship that a single parent has with God is vital to this. With God’s help in the absence of a spouse, your kids are never disadvantaged. With God’s help in the presence of a spouse your children are no more or less advantaged.
When the marital relationship is acknowledged as a God-given priority, the likelihood of effective parenting is magnified.
Let me ask you moms, how the relationship is with you and dad. Will your children want to build a relationship with someone like the relationship that you have with him? If so, great. If not, then how will you show them what to look for?
My challenge for you today is to prioritize the two most vital and intimate relationships that you have in this life so that they can serve as a compass for your children as they establish their life’s direction and values.
Love is the purification of the heart from self; it strengthens and ennobles the character, gives a higher motive and a nobler aim to every action of life, and makes both man and woman strong, noble, and courageous; and the power to love truly and devotedly is the noblest gift with which a human being can be endowed; but it is a sacred fire that must not be burned to idols.
-- Maria Jane Jewsbury
 The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Zondervan: Grand Rapids