Psalm 139:9 says "He grants the barren woman a home, like a joyful mother of children. Praise the LORD!". As I read this verse, it struck me that "joyful" and "mother" are not words I think of together often! I was further challenged on this point when I listened to a Nancy Campbell teaching CD. Nancy shared her belief that God wants us as women to not just be mothers but joyful mothers.
How different this image God provides is to what we often see around us. I don't know about you, but when I think of words to describe the Mums I have known "joyful" is not the first word that comes to mind. Here are some of the things I might think of:
What about you?
After listening to the teaching CD, I chaged my prayer for children somewhat. I began to pray that I would become a joyful mother of children. I knew that becoming a joyful Mum, when so many Mums I had known were not characterised by joy, would be just as much an act of God as the conception and birth of a child for us. This prayer has become a continual one for me, as I am constantly reminded of the many ways that it is easy to radiate anything but joyful motherhood! Even pregnancy brings many challenges . . . and I can easily see myself becoming a complaining not a joyful mother!
Here are some of the things I think may steal mothers' joy:
Anxiety for our children and ourselves. God's word repeatedly reminds us not to be anxious. However, if you are anything like me you are not very good at obeying this command.
Self-imposed pressure or pressure from others to do, do, do - and do it just right! Unlike Jesus' yoke, the yokes we impose on ourselves are often heavy.
Comparison with others. God's word speaks to this and tells us that each one should "examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another" (Galatians 6:4).
I believe there may also be things that contribute to a joyful attitude:
Confidence in God's purpose for us as mothers - the deep assurance that God has created us for this role and he will provide all we need to do it.
Trust is a closely related concept. Trust that God will do what is best for us and our children.
Knowledge that in laying down our lives we find them. We do not need to chaff against the self-sacrifice and loss of space and time that are basic to motherhood. Instead, we can see this as one way of being like Christ in dying to our own desires. If we know that this self-sacrifice is the path to true joy, we are comforted in the changes and sufferings that motherhood brings.
Investing all our energy and passion into what God has called us to at this time. There are countless opportunities out there to better ourselves, to serve others, to "escape the kids", etc. Often, the opportunities are the worst temptations! "Good" things that actually take us from what we are primarily called to do as wives and mothers, and increase that self-imposed pressure. I have even experienced this in pregnancy.
I am just starting out on my journey of being a Mum . . . so I'd love to hear from more experienced readers about what you believe keeps us from being joyful Mums and what helps us to live out God's heart for us - joyful motherhood!