Standing in the market in Thailand, I studied my unfamiliar world. The noises of horns, the smells of incense, and the shouts of street vendors kept my head spinning like a top. The variety fascinated me. As I moved ahead in the surge of humanity (faking the fact that I fit in and pretending I knew what I was doing), I made sure not to trip on the uneven pavement while still absorbing the kaleidoscope of color all around me.
Then, her smile caught my attention, and I stopped. Before I knew it, Susan and I engaged in a meaningful conversation. Right on the edge of a dangerously busy street, she managed her business of selling scarves—silk and cashmere scarves. Her perfect English made conversation easy. We completed our business transaction, and chatted further about life—specifically, life as a mother.
Listening to her heartfelt concerns for her children nearby, I realized I could close my eyes and see myself in this same conversation with a mother in Brazil, a mother in South Africa, or a mother in Moldova. Susan loved her children, and carried a heavy burden to do her best in her role.
Around the world, a consistent longing connects mothers: the longing to do a good job. And we all ask the same common questions: How? How can I make a difference? How will I know I am getting it right, that I am on the right path, that I am headed in the right direction?
If Susan and I were neighbors, if we saw each other on a regular basis, we would have time to delve into this topic in a meaningful manner. This is what I would offer her: I believe a mother makes her greatest contribution by investing in three relationships.
Her Relationship with the Lord
Life meanders like the Rio Grande River and life promises changes. If we as Moms try to get our equilibrium from our setting, circumstances, or contemporary trends, we will always be unstable. But when we immerse ourselves in our relationship with The Lord, we will reap the benefit of supernatural strength and stability. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8), and in Him alone do we find a firm foundation on which to stand. As we transition from toddlers to teenagers, He provides supernatural resources needed for our ongoing challenges.
The single most important occurrence in the day of a mother is her time with Jesus. This will never be easy, but it will always be worth it. Perhaps it is only 10 minutes, but those 10 minutes set aside to read one verse and utter one prayer sets the course for the entire day.
Before you know it, the day will dawn when the ten minutes expand to thirty minutes and then—one day, believe it or not—to sixty minutes. The amount of time is not the issue, but the intent of the heart is. And remember, the Bible is better than Google®. Whatever is on your heart is already on the heart of God. Give Him a chance to weigh in with your thinking.
Allow your time alone with Jesus to transition from have to~ought to want to~long to. Let this sanctified set of minutes become music for your heart, rest for your soul, peace for your mind, and strength for your day.
Above all remember this precious portion of Scripture from Isaiah 40:11c: He gently leads those that are with young. You are with young, and He wants to gently lead you, not as a taskmaster demanding more bricks with less straw, but as a gentle Shepherd who loves you dearly.
Her Relationship with her Husband
From my vantage point in the empty nest, I champion the cause of Date Night in the life of a couple, regardless of the children’s ages. For Larry and me, this habit has served us well for nearly 45 years in marriage.
The logistical arrangements might fall to you, but go for it. Get the sitter, get it on the calendar, and get out the door.
Practical suggestions for how-to:
- Brainstorm with other moms and help each other with ideas.
- Be flexible on how, when, and what to do. Ages and stages of life need to be considered. An afternoon walk alone might be all that the budget will allow, but still, the time away can help breathe fresh air into your relationship.
- Concentrate on life-giving conversation. Movies are great fun, but balance these with eye-to-eye conversation, even if it is just hot chocolate across the table from each other in a neighborhood diner.
- Listen to each other; don't interrupt. And, make every effort to leave the criticism behind.
Her Relationship with her Child
Debby's mothering mural is certainly not flawless, and there are spots which make it look like it was assaulted by a paint gun. (Some other time I will tell you about the night our organization’s international vice president came to visit.) But for now, let me encourage you to embrace your child's world at each stage, and grow with this little person you now hold in your arms. Enjoy childhood all over again, and always point them to the Giver of Life.
Sift life through the Word of God as you answer questions, solve problems, and celebrate milestones. In Him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28a) provides a fabulous mission statement in your relationship with your child.
My hallmark suggestion is this: capitalize on communication. Engage with them—at bedtime, after school, in the car, and around the table. (And refuse to make your communication a monolog. Listen.) My Grandmother taught my Mother, who taught me, the principle of presence: Be there. Be available when they come home from school and talk to them. Be awake when they come in from a date, and talk to them. They will talk when they first come in; later the window of opportunity for transparent conversation closes. Though this advice is rife with inconvenience, I heartily endorse the decision.
George H. Bush in a magazine interview once said, “The greatest honor I have ever received is that my children still come home.” Good investments take time and attention. So do relationships. Invest in a future where your children, too, will still come home.
Living With Eternal Intentionality™
If you are a Mom: What one step will you take in each of these three relationships?
If you know a Mom: Which relationship will you highlight and commit to prayer in the life of a Mom you know and love?