Last week, I went to a community church service, and ended up weeping as the guest speaker looked right into my heart and said the words I didn’t know I needed to hear.
Right in the thick of sleep training, I had gone to church by myself to take a break (ha) because I was going nuts from the sleep deprivation and the crying. Going anywhere once you’re a mom, without a child, is pretty much the definition of taking a break, even if it’s just to church.
The speaker was a traveling musician, talking about helping children through Compassion Canada, a fantastic organization. But more generally, he was talking about caring about the people Jesus cared (and cares) about; the poor, the weak, the marginalized, the oppressed, widows, the hungry, the over looked (Matthew 25). He was talking about caring for the people Jesus cared for and took time for many times in the new testament: children.
Why would this make me cry? Why would this touch me so much, as a mother? As someone who’s full time, every moment of every day (and night), is consumed with caring for a child, why would someone saying Jesus cared about children make me so emotional?
Because someone was telling me my job description was important. Because someone was telling me that the day in , day out, diaper after nasty diaper, is important. Because someone was telling me that by caring for my child, I was caring about the things Jesus cared about; that loving my daughter is a part of loving Jesus, and valuing what Jesus values.
Hearing these words was like finally taking a deep breath when I didn’t know I was holding it.
I’ve written before about the difficulties of being a mom, so I won’t repeat myself here. But I will say, a mom can’t hear these words enough: you matter; the work you do every day, it matters. Even if you don’t subscribe to Jesus’s words, hear them, and let them remind you that caring for your child is important. You are seen, and what you do is valuable.
Not just because caring for your children is your responsibility, and joy, but also because Jesus set up His value system and kingdom to value exactly opposite what the world values. He values the poor (Mark 12:42), He exalts the humble (Luke 14:11), He honors the overlooked (Matthew 19:13).
I saw this as the speaker read Jesus’ words to His disciples about children:
“Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. . . See that you do not despise one of these little ones.” Matthew 18:5,10.
Do not despise. Ouch.
Now hear me, I don’t despise my baby girl (most days she’s a complete joy); but some days I do despise the more difficult parts of being a mom. Sleep training, teething, sleep regressions, separation anxiety – we’re only 8 months into this parenting gig and there are for sure some stages and seasons I have despised. And I’ll always be honest about that, even if I wish it weren’t that way. Because some days it is, and last Sunday was one of those days. And Jesus’ words in Matthew 18 are exactly what I needed to hear.
These words didn’t make me feel like a bad mom, or like I didn’t like being a mom enough. No, instead, they gave value to the struggle; the struggle to love being a mom even when I don’t love the season we are in. They gave value to how hard and how long the days can be, and how tired I am. They gave value to the tug of war in my heart between wanting to be with my baby that morning, and to enjoy her, when all I needed was an hour to myself.
Because even though it’s hard, even though some days it’s easy to despise, I know that being a mom is valuable, and perhaps the most important thing I will ever do – so I want to do it really, really well. Because Jesus says it’s valuable, and He sees me.