Parenting is one of the most difficult jobs ever and being a single parent can seem four times as hard. With that being said, motherhood is one of life’s highest callings; many women long for a child and never have that prayer answered and then there are those who put no thought into the tremendous responsibility of bringing a life into this world and produce many children.
There are many noteworthy mothers in the Bible. Sarah, wife of Abraham, mother of the nation of Israel, was barren and knew what it meant to wait on God to act. Rebekah, like her mother-in-law Sarah was also barren. Isaac her husband prayed for her and God opened her womb and she conceived twins. Jochebed, mother of Moses, is one of the underappreciated mothers in the Bible. Very little is written about her story. To avoid her son being slaughtered, she set him adrift in the Nile River. God so worked it that Moses was found by Pharaoh’s daughter and Jochebed became her own son’s nurse. Hannah is one of the most touching stories of a mother in the Bible. She also suffered long years of barrenness. Although cruelly taunted by her husband’s other wife, Hannah never gave up on God. After God blessed her with Samuel, she acted selflessly and honored her vow to God and God favored her with five more children. Bathsheba was known for having been the one whose husband was put on the front lines by King David to be killed to cover their affair and the impending birth of their unborn child. After their child died, God favored Bathsheba with another son, Solomon. The first story we read of Solomon’s reign as king is after he requested wisdom from God as to how to rule over His people — the story revolves around two harlots birthing male sons three days apart. Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist (who we know to be the forerunner of the Savior of the world), was yet another barren in her old age who, like Hannah, decided to give her son to God. Mary, the mother of Jesus is probably the most honored mother in the Bible. Mary accepted God’s will for her life and suffered enormous shame, but yet was a shining example of obedience and submission to the Father’s will.
Parents can appear to be as gods in the eyes of their little children, but in all actuality, parents are ministers. A minister is one who listens and counsels, guides and supports in the development of the spiritual nature of those in his or her care. A minister aids the needy by providing sustenance and basic needs. A minister acts as an agent of teaching for those in his or her family. A minister is an ambassador, lending aid and support in matters of a delicate or personal nature. Finally, a minister is a servant. He or she serves for the good of those in his or her care selflessly. The goal of each of these activities is salvation, meaning preserving for the highest good the mind, body and spirit, which is the concern of most ministers and should be for all parents. Parents as ministers should serve their children by giving them their best and expecting the best from them. If you have read some of my earlier posts, you will recall that I was basically born and raised in the church. My mother was a teacher, a choir member and eventually a minister; yet, I suffered tremendously as a child in every way possible (body, mind and soul). I always thought it strange that she could comfort and encourage those in the church, but I never received her comfort or encouragement. I noticed how gentle her voice was with them, how she provided a comforting hug or a shoulder to cry on, but I never received the same. She dosed out advice (wisdom) to others for living, but shared none with her own child. I longed for my mother’s attention, I craved a touch, a smiling glance, a hug; I longed to be ministered to. One instance in particular, I recall inquiring of my mother what I needed to know about coming into “womanhood.” Kids can say some dumb stuff and by the sixth grade, it seemed as though most kids knew things I had never even heard of. I eventually received at her hands a black book and when I opened the cover it read “Women’s Encyclopedia.” At thirteen, too many of those words were either vague, ambiguous, over my head and just plain clinical. The next book I was given when it came to search out answers for womanhood and life was The Color Purple and, if you’ve read that book, that was a wee bit too much information going on in there for a youngster of my age. Later on in my teenage years, that black book eventually became my source of information for all things physical.
I always felt invisible to my mother as if I didn’t matter. Because of the abuse I suffered and the lack of positive attention, I grew up trying to control every aspect of my life. I excelled in school, always on the A honor roll, perfect attendance, anything to try and feel a sense of worth. I learned pretty much every lesson in life either through sheer embarrassment or the hard way because I had never been ministered to. After becoming an adult and relocating back to Dallas, I had the occasion to hear many women speak so highly of my mother and all the things she taught and shared with them during a 70th birthday party I organized for her. Sometimes as parents we learn things after the fact and do to others what we neglected to do with or for our own. However, these groups of women that I heard sharing stories of all the wisdom and knowledge she poured into them were mostly older than me, some younger than me and quite a few the same age. And yet I had no similar story to share.
As parents, we have to understand that by serving our children, we are serving God — the child is simply the recipient of the service. I fought motherhood for years. As children we always have in the back of our minds the things we believe we’ll not do, do differently or better than our parents. During my marriage, my husband longed for children and secretly I did as well (in my heart) but would not allow myself to give in to it or him. I had dreams of my children often; however, being that I had never been ministered to, being that I didn’t know a mother’s love, I feared even the possibility of being neglectful, cold or unloving towards my own. Isn’t it ironic that the things we fear are often the things which come upon us. As a result of the unresolved pain of my childhood and the deceitfulness of sin, a mother was eventually birthed in me. However, it had the total opposite effect of what I expected. From the moment my daughter was laid upon my chest, I then knew not only a mother’s love but also how much God loved me — and continues to love me — through this experience. My trials as a single mother have been a strategic path to my healing, maturity and peace. Now, only time will tell what my ministry of motherhood will produce. But, by the grace of God, through prayer and a healed heart, I can say I’m trusting this legacy to God’s care and it will be good! Not that I will do everything right, but I’ve given back to him the ministry He’s given to me!
Mothers, love your children! Give to them what’s most important in life, LOVE! Love for God, Love for self, Love for others, respect, discipline, self-worth and value. Children are gifts. They are not ours for the breaking. They are His for the making. No matter my beginning, I’ve come to realize I’ve always been in God’s hand and today say, “thank you mother for your ministry of motherhood.”
Belinda Powell, copyright February 2014