Being a mom is a thankless calling.
So often, I find myself reheating my coffee, shuffling across the kitchen floor hoping to steal a few moments to myself to perhaps read a verse of scripture or wash a dish, when I hear the usual chorus of my life rising from the adjacent room… there’s the, “I had that first!” followed by the (insert act of violence here) and then, without fail, the dreaded wailing of a toddler wronged.
It’s in these moments I think, “oh Lord. Send me to the slums of India, the back alleys of Taiwan, the underground church of China… just anywhere but the living room.”
I hope I’m not the only mom who sits, feet firmly planted on my carpet, nursing yet another baby, folding yet another towel, settling what feels like the seven millionth squabble of the hour, looking out my window and feeling as if it’s all such a waste for the kingdom. Why, oh Lord, would you give me the personality I have, the gifts I have, the desire to reach the unchurched, only to call me to the depths of the playroom?
I’ve yet to be part of a church community that did not, at some point, pray over missionaries that were being sent to a land, far, far away. And, as I’ve swayed in the back with a colicky baby I’ve looked on at the missionary couple with a tinge of envy. They’re really doing something for God! I think. And I am just relegated to this life of meaningless domesticity.
I’ve since realized that I had somehow created a spiritual hierarchy of work in my mind… a false hierarchy. Part of the scandal of the reformation in the 1500s, was that it completely redefined the concept of “work” for the believer. No longer were monks, nuns, and priests alone at the top of the spiritual pyramid. Now, the reformers said, all good work is holy work. In fact, it was Martin Luther who said, “God himself will milk the cows through him whose vocation it is.” No one’s occupation is more or less holy than the pastor or missionary or city maintenance employee next door.
In Tim Keller’s “Every Good Endeavor” he points out one of the main problems with my (or anyone for that matter) assigning spiritual value to a particular occupation. The church receives conflicting messages regarding the nature of work. We are to evangelize our coworkers, promote social justice, be excellent workers, create beauty, impact culture, have a joyful heart, be satisfied, or make loads of money to then be generous. The problem, Keller says, with these messages is that it isn’t possible for us to do all of them simultaneously which is confusing to Christians.
So, they’re left to simply picking whichever aim suits them or their particular wing of evangelicalism and judging those who don’t measure up. And, furthermore, I have noticed in my own experience in the Church, each local church perhaps defines spiritual work differently. I have been a part of churches that champion the stay-at-home mom’s role, unknowingly inflicting guilt on the working mom. I’ve also been a part of churches that emphasize the importance of global missions, leaving those of us serving locally to feel as if we somehow aren’t measuring up.
In Tish Harrison Warren’s, “The Liturgy of the Ordinary,” she admits the following:
“It is hard for me to believe that checking email could ever be a place of prayer. I want God to call me to other things, things that feel more important, meaningful, and thrilling. But this work, in this hour, is a living prayer that I may ‘go in peace to love and serve the Lord.’”
I love that the apostle Paul challenges us in 1 Corinthians 10:31, that, “whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” He takes something small and simple, eating and drinking, and challenges us to glorify God in the seemingly insignificant. If God cares about the “small” actions that make up our day, then can one not argue that He also cares about the “small” vocations in which some of us find ourselves?
I don’t need to serve another master… the other master that tells me to jump through this hoop or go to this country in order to be a true servant of God. I only need to serve the One Master who has called me to where I am. If I truly believe that the Lord has, as according to Acts 17:26, determined my allotted time and place of living, then I can truly believe that it is not without purpose.I don’t need to serve another master… the other master that tells me to jump through this hoop or go to this country in order to be a true servant of God. I only need to serve the One Master who has called me to where I am. Click To Tweet
So, I resolve to carry on. I resolve to wipe the nose, change the diaper, load the dishwasher, serve my neighbor, and pray for those blessed feet that carry the news of the gospel to the unreached places that I may not ever go. My feet may be restless at times, but they are planted. If you are of the same afflicting (restless feet that are planted), let this lead you to prayer. Pray for those whose feet may go but, also, pray for the opportunities in front of you. What you are doing is holy work. What you are doing is gospel work.