by Catherine McKay
Dear friend who’s about to welcome a baby,
We’ve found that learning to be a mum has been an hour-in, hour-out, day-in, day-out, year-after-year exercise in applied theology. Doctrine collides with milk and nappies and sleep and fatigue. Here are some things we’re learning along the way.
Working out how to love this new person will expose what you really believe about God and people and what life is really about. But it doesn’t just expose us; it grows us. Motherhood gives us lots of unexpected opportunities to marvel at God and to serve Jesus.
When you see your unbearably beautiful baby, you’re seeing a tiny fragment of the infinitely beautiful God displayed in this little, delicate creature. God invented and thought up and knit together that little wonder.
When you look at your baby and see a mystery you can’t solve or fix, marvel at the God who understands everything and who’s baffled by nothing.
As you feel your weakness in not being able to meet all the needs of your baby, let your weakness cause you to rest in God’s strength. He sustains all of creation effortlessly.
When you’re changing another soiled nappy, give thanks for the intricate systems which are functioning in your baby — systems designed by a generous creator.
If you’re ever wondering who you are as your role changes, find yourself not in motherhood, nor in escape from it, but in Jesus.
When it feels like you’re getting nowhere — when every time you try to get a job done, it’s undone or interrupted — remember that our sovereign God is working out his plan for your days, and his plans are never interrupted or thwarted: the interruptions are his plan.
When you feel like you’re not being very useful beyond the walls of your home, remember that you’re doing the good works that Jesus has given you for now, and you never know what far-reaching good he might achieve through your hidden mothering.
When you’re preparing food for a baby, remember that Jesus ate real food and was resurrected in a real body. By stooping to join in the mundane, he has lifted it. This food is growing a body to serve Jesus. You are helping to grow a temporary body which houses an eternal person.
When you’re so tired that you put the milk in the pantry and the roast in the fridge and the dirty washing in the toilet, praise the God who’s never tired and never needs to sleep.
When you feel the constancy of being a mum, the whole-bodyness of it, remember that this constant service is a good training-ground for followers of Jesus. You get to follow the self-sacrificing saviour in new, very concrete ways. You get to spend yourself in sacrificial love 24 hours a day for years on end.
When you need to sleep and it feels like seventeen things still need to be done, remember that God keeps his world going: God keeps your family going, which means you can stop and rest. Rest is an act of faith. God gives sleep to his beloved (Psalm 127–128).
When you feel like you don’t get to concentrate on a sermon or a Bible study any more, remember that God can still nourish you on the broken fragments. He’s sanctifying you in all the things that break your concentration. Don’t resent the person God has entrusted to you, just because they interrupt the other things you want to do for God.
It’s far better to stop and feed on God and speak with him daily than to keep the benches cleared and the bed made at all times. There’ll always be more work to do, so step away from it for a while. If you stop digging into God, you’ll starve and wither over the years to come. When you do dig into him, the difficult and ordinary can become rich and wonderful. The years ahead can become a time of tremendous growth.
When you hear a dozen contradictory opinions on one issue, find some people who love Jesus and still like each other and whose kids you like. Listen to their advice. Ignore the others. Copy people you’re happy to become like.
Remember that you and your husband are on the same team and work hard at keeping the oneness. Enjoy watching him grow into a father and encourage him as you see glimpses of our Heavenly Father in his fatherhood.
In those times when you’re completely happy being a mum, stop and enjoy with thanksgiving. It’s a gift of God to find satisfaction in your toil; it’s not a gift we enjoy all the time. And keep looking beyond this light and fleeting happiness to the solid ground of joy in Jesus, and the hope of what’s still to come.
As you see sin which you didn’t know you had, praise God for its exposure and let it drive you quickly to the cross. Rest in the mercy of Jesus.
As you find temptations which are new in a new situation, be confident in the Holy Spirit’s strong, transforming presence in you. Pray and lean hard on God.
When you face situations with your baby which you would never have designed for your child or your family, look to our God, who’s always strong and good, even in his mysterious ways.
As you welcome and raise your baby, remember that you and your husband aren’t doing it alone. We intend to be beside you, getting to know and love your baby with you for many years to come. We’ll be praying that your baby knows the riches of being in Christ, among his people, both in this life and forever.
Catherine McKay is raising five children with her husband, Steve. Occasionally, she writes on her blog, Women Bible Life