Flourishing In the Ordinary – And The Nominees for Best Mom Are…

Flourishing In the Ordinary – And The Nominees for Best Mom Are…

For this winter season, I’ve been spending each Wednesday morning at our church with the young moms and tots of my church family.  I’ve been providing snacks, a less-germy indoor play place than the local McDonalds and principles for young motherhood that saved my sanity when my girls were tiny.  Today’s principle that I’m sharing from the Proverbs 31 series from two years ago was one that I wish I knew 16 years back but didn’t discover until recently.  It really can liberate you from the crippling comparison game that plagues so many young mothers.  So before you restock that designer diaper bag, slave over that Pinterest cake or document every glowing mother-moment on Instagram, I hope you will take a couple minutes to read on.    


 

“Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.”

Proverbs 31:28-29

 

As I sit to type this post tonight, my computer screen isn’t the only thing glowing.

Despite two slatherings of 60 SPF, organic sunscreen, I have crispy “track” face.  All three of my girls competed for the day in their school’s track & field events.  It is an amazing day, equal parts glorious & grueling.  Hundreds of pubescent students with knees & elbows flailing.  Straining for their chance at glory.  Even if it takes jump offs and photo-finishes, someone has to win.  One person gets the red ribbon and the proverbial top of the podium.

Our passage for today begins to wrap up the Super Wife tribute we’ve been studying for the past four months.  In them we see her husband and children bless her – even boast in her exalted position above all other women.

“Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.”

If you’re like me and hope for this kind of commendation from your family in the years to come, our passage gives us some tips to help bring that about.

Shrink the Audience

Most of us don’t live in a social vacuum.  Many people watch.  Many people notice.  Many people evaluate. (Prov. 31:15, 20, 23, 24, 31) But the fact that only these immediate family commendations find their way into this tribute infers something pretty significant:  It is an honourable aspiration to pursue the admiration of our husbands and children above all other people on the planet.

But wait.  Aren’t we told not to live for the opinions of man?  To live with a Holy Disregard for the valuation of others because at the end of our lives, it’s only God’s estimation of us that matters?

Yes.  But as women, let’s think about this.  A large part of our commendation from God is going to come from how well we’ve stewarded the people that He’s most specifically entrusted to us.  So, getting a hearty thumbs-up from our families greatly increases our chance of receiving a glowing commendation from the Lord.  You could say that the one ensures the other.

But in a world that shouts at us to expand our influence and broaden our platforms, the choice has to be intentional to shrink the audience we are playing to.  I don’t want my children one day telling the sad story I’ve heard from too many adult children – that mom or dad were heroes outside the home but failures within.  Giving to everyone else what their own kids craved but never received.  Appearing to everyone else what their own children knew they weren’t.

One day when we’re as wrinkly as the prunes we’ll need to eat to stay regular, it won’t matter what the beautiful neighbour thought, or the critical church lady thought, of the hundreds of social media followers that we never actually talked to thought.  Let’s shrink our audience to a much more manageable size: For God & for family.  At the end of our lives, better to mean much to few than mean little to many.

Delay the Gratification

That being said, seeking immediate approval from our children could be disastrous.  Please note that the verse eludes to the children being older, or established in life.  (“…rise up and call her blessed.”)  This is not a chubby knuckled toddler or a fickle 5-year-old or an all-knowing teenager.  If we have any hope of attaining this overall, life-commendation from our kids, we must develop the maturity to delay gratification.

You see, as parents we have a choice – to parent for our children’s current enjoyment & approval or parent for their future good & appreciation.  Because most children exit the womb as short-sighted, unwise, selfish little twits, to parent for their current enjoyment & approval means that we’ll usually sacrifice their future good in the process.  Easy yes.  Long term mess.  Whereas parenting for their future good and appreciation means we will often bear the brunt of their disappointment and disapproval.  Out of love, we must choose to bear the pain of their temporary disapproval over letting them suffer later under the consequences we might have helped them avoid.

Parenting would be a snap if our children could appreciate our efforts right away:

  • “Mom, I so respect you for caring enough for my development, purity and creativity that you limit my media time.”
  • “Mom you are so wise and loving to buck social convention and have me be the only teen my age without a cell phone so that you can protect me from all the dangers that lurk in unchecked access.”
  • “Mom thank you for those thoughtful and needed consequences for my dishonesty so that I don’t grow up harbouring sinful habits that will harm me and my future relationships.”

Yeah… not happening.  “Blessed” is not their descriptor of choice for me in those moments, but by God’s grace, one day I believe it will be.  (Update: With two wise teenagers in the house now, it is beginning!)

Treasured, authentic, non-manipulative commendations from our kids don’t come until much later in life when the blinders of youth fall from their eyes.  At that point, and rarely before it will the wisdom and love in our parenting be appreciated for what it is.  Friend, we can’t shortcut this process in our thirst for the immediate gratification we can find in their current approval.  They are too precious for us to allow that to happen.  We’re the big girls.  Let’s tough it up for their sake.

Stop Comparing

If we stacked up all our strengths and accomplishments as wives & mothers, compared to you I doubt I’d rank as the best.

  • I sometimes file artwork and love notes in the recycle bin.
  • I can’t be bothered with “on-theme” birthday parties and I’m terrified of Pinterest cakes.
  • And sometimes I laugh before checking if my kids are okay after a mishap.

Regardless of our varied shortcomings, I’d venture to guess that many of our Mother’s Day cards still named us “Best”.  But we can’t all be best, right?  By definition, the word “best” requires one body on the top podium.  So who is it?  You?  Me?

Let’s learn something from the hubby in our passage.  This husband knows that, though they are rare, other noble women do exist.  But in comparison, his lovely is the best of all.  But let’s stop and think about this for a minute.  Can he really say that?  I mean, does he live with those other ladies?  Does he receive all the service & care rendered by their hands?  Does he hear every soft and instructive word uttered from other lips?  Does he reap the benefit of those other ladies’ diligence, benevolence and wisdom?

No.  The truth is, this is a totally subjective statement.  But don’t panic.  The fact that this is a subjective assessment doesn’t neutralize the power of this point.  It actually gives us a brilliant principle:

 

God never instructs us to be everyone’s breed of “Best”.  He simply calls us to be the best mom and wife to the family we are stewarding.

 

How freeing.  Can you feel the shackles of comparison dropping from your heart?  Go out today and love your family in the ways that are best for them, as only we can know.  If we will do that, there is room on the podium for all of us.

1 Comment

  1. Heather Bock

    I always appreciate the wisdom you give about motherhood!

    Reply

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