Hans’ note: Kristen is married to a Youth Minister, and has three young children. She is involved in ministry with children, young people and other Mums in a small town. In her spare time, she likes to write. Follow her on Twitter
If there is one thing that is going to change everything for you, it is meeting Jesus. The Gospel is more than something you hear about in church on Sunday. It affects everything, no matter what stage of life you’re in. My stage of life is that I’m a wife to one husband, and mother of three small children. It’s been a huge learning process, and I’m still on the journey, but here are some of the things I’ve learned so far about the Gospel and being a wife/mother:
God is more interested in Who I Am than in What I Do.
Before I was married, I worked a full-time paid professional job. I had Degrees! I was in control! I had business cards with my name listed in bold letters! I organised events! I spoke with important people! I had power lunches! Even after I was married, I worked for a few years while my husband finished his college studies. I was doing important stuff!
Then I had children.
Some people try to define it in important career-type terms: “Domestic Goddess” or “Domestic Engineer”. But it was hard to feel Goddess- or Engineer-like when my shirt was covered in porridge and I had just changed the sixth stinky nappy for the day. I longed for the days when I could be an adult, dealing with grown-up career issues. Not wrestling with toilet training or cleaning texta off the carpet.
It was a hard lesson to learn. But ever so slowly, I began to see that God was more concerned with my character than my career title. In God’s mind, it is far more important for me to grow to be like Him. I can do that whether I have a full-time job in an office somewhere, or whether I am at home hanging out the washing.
Who I am (my character) matters more to God than What I Do (my job).
God is more interested in What I Do than in Who I Am.
Status and titles are things that define, but can also imprison us. I am a Mother. I am a Wife. Everyone has a mental picture of what that should mean: am I the stereotypical 1950s Housewife, wearing an apron in an immaculately clean kitchen while baking souffle? Am I the modern Power Mother, handing my children their sushi lunches while preparing for pilates before I head off to work? Am I the new age Earth Mother, encouraging my children in permaculture, and teaching them how to repurpose household refuse?
We want to be able to define ourselves in a way that makes us feel important. Status and Titles are things that we can too often strive for at the expense of what really matters.
Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 7:21
Jesus didn’t care what people called themselves, or what titles they had. He cared about how they lived. More importantly, he cared about how people lived in response to him.
So what if I call myself “Christian”? Does my life show others that Jesus is my King? Or is it just a title that I wear like a badge of honour, while living the opposite way?
So what if I call myself a “Christian Mother”? Does my life demonstrate to my children that Jesus is the most important reality in our existence?
As a parent, we have the most amazing opportunity to help new human beings grow up to understand that their Creator loves them even though they rebel against him, that their Creator sent Jesus to die for them, and that they have the opportunity to love and serve their Creator and the people around them too. We can do that with what we teach them, but we also do it by how we live.
Children enjoy having “opportunities” (like music lessons or craft or reading activities or sport), but most of all they benefit from the example that their parents set. As a wise teacher once said, our faith is “caught”, not just “taught”.
James wrote: “Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.” (James 2:18b).
The Gospel changes our status (from sinner to forgiven), but it also demands a response. I respond in repentance – by turning to God and away from my sin. I respond in faith – by trusting Jesus. But I also respond in action – by living out my faith in my family and community.
I’m not saying that this is easy. There are nights when I’ve spent more time awake tending babies than asleep, days I’ve spent in a sleep-deprived fog. There are days when the demands of the children have been so constant and so unrelenting that I’ve wanted to scream, “Where’s some Me Time for me?!!!” There are times when our marriage has been tested by miscarriage or prolonged illness, or lack of attention to each other’s needs. In each of these times, I’ve had to learn how to be consistent in what I say and do – or when I’ve been challenged at how I’ve let stress or Self stand between my family and Jesus. I’ve had to ask myself, “If my husband or the kids had to describe what they thought was most important to me, what would they say?”
Prayer is important here. I’m amazed at how many times my stressed and strangled cries of “Help!” have been graciously and lovingly answered by an incredibly patient God. I’ve also learned the benefit of technology like iPods, so I can listen to sermons even while I’m cleaning out the bathroom, or take my bible with me in my handbag. These things have helped me to get back on track when life has been full of busyness and stress.
I’m on a journey. I’m still learning to be a wife and parent. I’m learning how to live out my faith in front of an audience. I’m a work in progress (If I said I had it all figured out, you’d know I was lying!). But the Gospel is helping me to follow Jesus one day at a time, and to share his love with my family.
Whether I’m covered in porridge or not.
– Kristen Young