I began the journey of motherhood through primarily spiritually mothering college students. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was being a Paul-type figure. Paul, the spiritual father to so many in the first-century church, taught and admonished men and women to be obedient to the teachings of Jesus; to love him with all their heart, soul, mind and strength. My nights were filled with reading and teaching the scriptures, praying earnestly with students, and doing the “one-anothers” Paul repeatedly commands believers to do. Our students became family. The lonely were “settled into families” just as scripture promised would happen (Psalm 68:6). To be part of this kingdom work was beautiful. However, making disciples isn’t about having someone follow me, per se. Making disciples through spiritual mothering requires us to be a finger pointing others to the one who truly satisfies the longings of our hearts. Recently, the Holy Spirit and God’s kindness lead me to repentance (Romans 2:4) where my eyes were opened to the times where I fell short. There were times I can honestly say I was making disciples of Louisa rather than disciples of Jesus. At times, I believed the student’s spiritual growth was primarily my responsibility to bring to fruition. The folly in this belief eventually gave birth to more sinfulness, and eventually, to the severing of a precious relationship. But, there is more to this broken story of mothering. There is more of God’s glory being revealed through the redemption of my mothering than I could ever imagine or comprehend as the Father continues to purify it. There is hope weaving the broken pieces of my disciple-making and mothering by the providential hand of my Father.
This past year, as God has opened the spiritual eyes of my heart to areas where I have fallen short as a disciple-maker, I began to beg for God’s mercy to bring redemption to the areas of my mothering. I prayed he would do a deep, eternal work no matter how difficult it was for me to walk through. I asked the Lord “no matter what it takes, redeem the years where my mothering hurt others, saddened you, and where I broke my covenant to you, Oh Lord.”
When I hear the word redemption, I typically associate it with God using the stories of our lives on platforms. Being a creative and loving to write, I believed the redemption I was praying for would come in the form of a platform as well. I dreamed of a big stage to share my story, a romantic storyline where hundreds of thousands of people would hear the story of how God uses the broken parts of our lives to bring himself glory, or a New York Times best-selling book where my story is read in print. While I see this happening in some lives, few ever get the opportunity to do so. God loves the quiet places, the unseen moments where refining takes place in the intimate moments with him. These moments can be compared to the intimate moments between husband and wife, where they are fully known, fully loved, fully themselves with each other. These are moments that would make you blush if you spoke of them with another. They’re deeply intimate and earth-shaking. Often times, too, the Lord does his deepest and most redemptive work in the moments where it is just you and him. No one knows. No one can see in. No one is there to cheer you on. It’s just you, the Father, and his loving words speaking over you.
My mothering is being redeemed. I see his hand redeeming, regaining possession of, my mothering. It is coming in many quiet, unseen forms. Recently, it’s done through a restless baby boy who has not wanted to sleep for two weeks now. He is needy, grouchy due to teething, and downright mean when it’s time for bed. But, the selfless act of patience and offering my warm, soft chest for him to lay on brings him comfort and ease. These selfless acts come at the most inopportune times, like when I want to be reading for myself or relaxing. It comes when I want to demand my own rest after working all day with hormonal teenagers in my classroom. It comes when I believe I have the right to sit on my phone and decompress instead of caring for the needs of yet another human. There is also a platform God provides: my son’s listening ears. I tell him the stories of God’s redemption as I rock him, offering comfort through praying out loud, which is also teaching him how to pray at a young age. I have the opportunity to sing the greatest love songs of God’s endless grace to my captive audience of one little boy. On these nights I give my best show. I sing with all my might in hopes that it moves his soul as he grows to know and love Jesus through song. The purifying acts of redemption come in emptying myself out of the sinful demand that I make my life about me. Each selfless act is an opportunity for faith to drive out the belief that I am to be worshipped. When God offers me these moments of hopeful redemption, I have a choice. He is offering a way for my faith to become works, and my prayers to be answered. Redemptive platforms aren’t always romantic. Sometimes they’re embodied by one-year-old teething boys who just want their momma. I’ve desperately needed these moments. I needed these tender, sin eradicating moments that cause me to fight for a greater holiness available to me through the gift of mothering.