One day in middle school, I came home feeling hurt by a friend. I don’t remember the details but there were tears. Before bed I talked to my mom about the situation. Just like every night, she stood beside my bed and tucked me inside the covers. She suggested we pray about it. Tender, wisdom-filled words sprang from her heart. Her presence calmed my frustrations and pain.
As I think about Mother’s Day this weekend and all that my my mom means to me, one of her greatest gifts has been prayer. And now that I’ve been a mother for almost six years, I’m just scratching the surface of how sacrificial the role of a mother really is.
In motherhood, you rarely receive accolades and praise. You may receive words of encouragement occasionally but in the daily grind of cleaning messes, dirty dishes, staying on top of schoolwork, and tackling piles of laundry you just don’t hear affirmation. I’ll be honest, at times my flesh craves the hand claps and pats on the back.
You sacrifice your time, energy, and whole life as you tend to the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of your children. You give of yourself while you nurse a nasty nose, bandage cuts, wipe dirty bottoms, manage major meltdowns and fits, discipline unruly behavior, shepherd wayward hearts, prepare meals, clean up meals and do it all over again the next day.
Sometimes you have to say “no” to good things and outings or shaving your legs and looking pretty so you can just meet the basic needs of your children. And when you’re not expending physical energy, you’re exerting yourself emotionally as you pray for their safety and choices.
This sacrifice involves both joy and pain because motherhood is a daily dying to your self- giving up your life for the sake of another. Putting your child’s needs before your own. Loving him or her more than you love yourself.
We know this from Jesus, our perfect example of selflesssness:
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” – Phil 2:3
“Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” – Matt. 10:39
In this sacrifice you’ll often feel like you’re spinning your wheels. You won’t see fruit. You’ll be exhausted and want to throw in the towel. You won’t think you’re making a difference. You’ll feel guilty when you mess up. You’ll worry you’re not doing it right. You’ll get sick and tired of correcting and disciplining defiant behavior. You’ll pray “God, help me,” feeling like a broken record.
And then out of the blue a day will come when you watch your son’s compassion and love as he befriends an adult with special needs at a school picnic and asks to eat his hotdog with her. When your daughter scrubs her skin with soap in the bathtub, happily singing a church song about how Jesus washes our sins away with “super soap” and her words convict and touch you deeply. When you ask your son if he wants to ask Jesus to live in his heart and he replies, “Mom… I’ve always believed.”
When there are moments of harmony in your home and it’s a glimpse of heaven.
And the taste of your sacrifice is nothing but sweet. And you thank God for all the gifts, joys, and blessings of being a mother and for the ability to invest in the life of your child. You thank God that he uses you in the midst of your imperfections.
Don’t lose sight that the around-the-clock, demanding work you’re doing will reap dividends as you stay faithful to Christ and your family. Even if no one is praising you, God sees your work as worthy.
After that night my mom prayed with me, I slept soundly. I went to school the next day and the conflict was resolved. I was relieved and felt at peace again. God answered our prayers. I look back on that evening as just one of the many examples of my mom’s constant love, care, concern, and sacrifice throughout my whole life as her child. Her sacrificial love is forever imprinted on my heart.