Resting in Christ Amidst the Chaos of Being a Mother
Kay, 2nd Congregation
I am a person who likes to plan. I’m not always good at keeping up with the plans, but I need a plan. It helps me feel that I’m on the right track. It makes me feel safe.
But being a mother has tremendously challenged how I look at planning and where I place my security.
When I had my first-born, I planned nursing time, diaper changing time, my showering time, my own mealtime, and my rest time. I thought I had it all together. But reality ruthlessly ripped my plans into pieces and flushed them down the drain.
Ten years since then, I can number the days that have passed without something getting in the way of my plans: the kids’ meltdowns before trying to get out of the house, the missing water bottle before a nature walk, the frustrated child refusing to do her Chinese homework, the spilt milk flowing under the fridge, the little feet stepping on the milk and bringing it into the rooms, the melted chocolate found in the child’s backpack, the messy dining table before dinner time, the irritable husband, the jammed printer, the flat tire, the list goes on.
Jesus said, “Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matt 11:28) But how could I find rest if my plans were always hijacked? Because we home-school, I was also worried that the kids would suffer academically if we didn’t get certain curriculum covered according to plan, and that fear added great pressure. Not only was I tired physically, I was drained emotionally too. I struggled with the rest Jesus promised.
I turned to God in desperation. And He answered me. About three years ago, I read a book by a Christian mother titled “Teaching From Rest”. In it, she said, “Rest begins with acceptance, or perhaps more accurately, with surrender.” She also quoted one of my favourite sayings of CS Lewis “…. the great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s ‘real’ life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life - the life God is sending one day by day; what one calls one’s ‘real’ life is a phantom of one’s own imagination.”
I couldn’t rest because I regarded my own plan higher than God’s. When my own plan got altered by the real life God sent me, I felt annoyed, worried or even panicked. I knew God was calling me to surrender - surrender to the higher plan that God sends through the mundane moments in life. Because God’s thoughts are above mine, and his ways are higher than mine, what I perceive as unpleasant or negative, God uses it for our good and for his glory. I know this because at Calvary, he used the cruellest punishment of that age, crucifixion, and brought what’s the best for me – a restoration of my whole being, and he ultimately brought glory to God himself.
I couldn’t rest because I didn’t trust. I didn’t trust that God indeed cared for me in the smallest details of my life and the life of my children. He says in his word “cast all your anxieties on him because he cares for you.” (1 Pet 5:7). Jesus said that even the hairs of your head are all numbered (Luke 12:7). I was ultimately doubting God’s goodness. I believed that he cared for me. But maybe only for big things like my salvation, my job, who I married, not in the other details of life, like which bus I get on and the people I meet, but that’s not how I would treat my kids. It certainly cannot be that I am more caring than God. God helped me to recognise that every facet of our day comes from his hand. No interruptions of my day will reach me without passing through his hands first.
Now I still plan, and my plans are often still interrupted. Many times, I still don’t know why the interruptions come in the way they do. But, when they do happen, I am reminded that they reach me through a loving and good father, for our ultimate good as well as for God’s own glory. For that, I can be rest assured.
It’s Mother’s Day today and my prayer is that we mothers will find the rest that God intends to give us through Christ. For those who are not mothers, may you be the instrument of God to help the mothers in your life find that rest.