As I read the account of Christ’s birth I often stop and ponder what that evening was like for young Mary. From the visit of Gabriel to visiting Elizabeth to that fateful, starlit night, it must have been a whirlwind of a pregnancy to say the very least. And then, the beautiful happened. The Savior of the world made His grand entrance in the night in the most humble accommodations possible. As Jesus was placed into her arms delicately wrapped in cloth, I am certain, joy and peace filled her washing away any misplaced inhibitions as Mary looked into her helpless son’s eyes. But, then what? She had children after Jesus. So, I wonder. What was the day to day like for Mary knowing she was raising not just her son, but the Son? How did she judge success? How could she measure if she was mothering “right”? Although Jesus was sinless, Mary couldn't have allowed that to intimidate her from mothering. Imagine the implications of trying to be the "perfect" mother, as a sinner, to Christ, the spotless Lamb. Impossible. Mind-boggling.
How can any mother know if she is a successful mother? We can’t take empirical data and compare the numbers. Straight As don’t signify life success for anyone. What if our kids sign-up for every extra-curricular available? That does not equal success. We could simply conclude our children are active or social butterflies or inquisitive, etc. There isn’t a result that determines successful mothering.
Successful mothering can be based on some determining qualities though. Our success can be based upon the process, faith and obedience. We place so much burden upon ourselves as mothers, but honestly God can only lead them to where they are going. We can try to point our children in the right direction, leading them to Christ. Yet, it is the Spirit that will do the convicting.
Mothers have to realize all is for God. It doesn’t matter what the world thinks of our parenting, it is the Father’s affirmation that matters. 1 Corinthians 15:58 also proclaims, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” Every morning let us remind ourselves who our boss is and who we answer to. We are not of the world, therefore their standards are certainly not ours. John 15:19, “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.”
Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,…” Let us parent with diligence and an ardent effort. 1 Corinthians 15:58 also proclaims, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” Parenting is our work for the Lord, in the Lord. As we labor for His kingdom let us do so with fervor and passion that can only be driven and sustained by His strength. It all lies within our hearts. Where is our treasure?
Mary didn’t know the path Jesus’ life was going to take. She knew though that she must live in obedience to God’s commands and walk in faith. In fact, that is all we can do as mothers. Children learn by imitating. If they see us walking with God, we can pray they will find their stride with Him, too. Rest assured in Philippians 1:6. “…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Don’t let the weight of mothering pull you down. We can only do as much as God calls us to do. God will fill in the gaps and complete His work. We are humble servants in His kingdom.
Proverbs 31:26 states, “She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.” We need to stay in the Word, dig deep into the riches therein and live out God’s instruction daily. If we want to speak with wisdom, our children need to see the wisdom lived out in practical, tangible terms daily. Are we loving our neighbor as ourselves? Are we loving God with all of our soul and heart? Joshua 1:8, “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”
Mary didn’t foresee the Cross or Jesus’ miracles as she raised Him. She saw undeveloped potential. God gave her passion and joy through her obedience and faith. She disciplined and guided with love and compassion. Success isn’t found in numbers on the report card or numbers on a child’s future paycheck. Success is found in a mother’s heart, in her conviction to lead and in her arms as she caresses her babies.