I am 24 years old, have been married for almost four years, and we have an 11-month-old daughter and a baby on the way.
At 18 years old I had zero intentions of getting married anytime soon, much less two years later. As a pastor’s daughter I long ago declared I would not marry anyone going into full-time, vocational ministry. Now here I am married to a seminary graduate applying for pastoral positions. As a newlywed I swore we would not have children until we had been married for at least five years, yet we got pregnant soon after our second anniversary.
I say all of this simply to let you know I don’t have it all figured out and am constantly learning (and relearning) to trust the Lord and to seek him. I am utterly dependent upon him in every aspect of my life, but especially in the area of motherhood.
I cannot do it alone.
One of the first things I learned as a new mom was that I had to die to self daily. When Hadley was waking every two or three hours in the night, my exhaustion took the back seat. She needed me. When she is sick, I am right there rocking her and comforting her.
Seeing my daughter’s dependence upon us has been a beautiful picture of our dependence upon Christ. We need him. I cannot be the wife I am called to be without the Holy Spirit. I cannot selflessly love and care for my daughter without God’s strength and wisdom.
But not only do I need Christ as a believer; I need his Bride, the Church, as well.
As believers, we cannot live holy lives and continue on in sanctification without immersing ourselves in the Word, in prayer, and in community with fellow believers – the latter of which is often, sadly, neglected.
I know this becomes difficult to maintain when children come along, but I also knowchildren need a father and mother who faithfully love Jesus and his church.
In order to “train up a child in the way he should go” (Prov. 22:6), we have to make Christ and his church paramount in our lives. For Christians, local church involvement is not optional, and should be something to which we look forward.
See your local church body for what it is – the very bride of Christ. Love those people, and get to know them. The church body needs all of its members to function as God intended. One of the best ways to do this is to have a place of service, utilizing the gift God has given you. Do not let your children be your excuse to pull back from being a faithful part of your church.
If I have learned anything this first year of motherhood, it is that children are resilient.They may be fussy on Sunday afternoon due to missing a morning nap while at church, but they will have plenty of time to sleep that night. They will adjust.
I would much rather deal with a fussy child on a Sunday afternoon, than my own spiritual malnourishment due to being disconnected from the body of Christ and consistent teaching from the Word.
But simply attending church is not enough. You need to know your fellow members and allow them to know you.
Growing up in a pastor’s home, we never lived near extended family until my junior year of high school. Our church became our family. There were members we called “Aunt” and “Uncle.” We were the “adopted grandchildren” of so many sweet couples in our church. If my parents needed to go out of town for a few days, we would stay with church members. We truly enjoyed living life alongside our fellow church members.
Fellowship within the body was engrained in me at a young age, and for that I am incredibly thankful.
My husband and I have been blessed with loving church families throughout our marriage who have come alongside us and ministered to us. Lord willing, we still have a long way to go, and I know we will continue to need faithful church members to encourage us and help us along the way.
I am not saying any of this because I am a model church member. Unfortunately, I did a poor job of staying active in our church outside of Sunday morning attendance for the first few months of Hadley’s life. I suffered from the lack of Christian fellowship in my life.
So from one mother to another, please do not neglect the church. You need those fellow believers in life, and your family needs them as well.
Hebrews 12:24-25 says:
“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”
As mothers and fellow sisters in Christ, I pray that we will not neglect the gathering together with other believers. Motherhood is difficult, just as the Christian life is difficult. We were not meant to do it alone. Christ died for his church and gave himself up for her. I’m convinced if we cherish the church as Christ does we will be better mothers because of it.