You Do Not Belong To Your Children, You Belong To Christ

A superficial reading of the title may cause some to think I have become anti-motherhood. That is the furthest thing from the truth. I am the mother of five living children and one dead child whom I believe is with Jesus, by the grace of God. I am NOT anti-motherhood, I am for Christ-centered motherhood! It is because I have lived at the two extremes of neglecting family, and making family my idol, that I can say some of the hard things I’m going to say. God willing with a gracious spirit speaking the truth in love.

First, let’s see what the Scripture says about who we belong to:

“But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, YOU ARE MINE
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, YOUR SAVIOR
Because you are precious in my eyes,
and honored, and I LOVE YOU
I, I am the Lord,
and beside me THERE IS NO SAVIOR.
–Isaiah 43: 1,3,4,11

If you are a Christian, you belong to Jesus Christ and no one else.

A friend and I were talking some weeks back and we both mentioned that we were a bit tired of these little aphorisms that seem to make the rounds in conservative Christian circles, whether on Facebook, blogs, books or in the local church. The latest goes something like this: “don’t worry so much about cleaning your home, make sure you are playing with your children.” There are others of course, most of them have to do with telling a mom to accept or forgive herself for not doing something else so THAT she can put more time in with the kids. It’s a good thing to try to remedy imbalances, but these sayings ALWAYS seem to tilt toward children. So for all the warnings NOT to become child-centered, or to have child-centered homes, we end up advising parents in ways that in actuality produce a certain child-centeredness.

Let’s be realistic for a minute: Motherhood is a big job. Our American attitudes toward “working smarter instead of working harder,” “play with your kids and don’t worry about the laundry,” will not help mothers understand their calling and tackle it with gospel eyes. For all the abortions in our culture, American secular families are very child-centered. Whether it’s buying their kids the newest learning game, extra-curricular activities, or even secular homeschooling (yes, it definitely exists), many many secular parents have their lives wrapped up in their children. I believe a little bit of this child-worship has crept into the Christian culture and we think it’s more palatable because we  have baptized it with certain Christian activities, or we’ve labeled it with “family-integration,” or given it some other Christian bent.

I have never read or heard anyone say:

“Read your Bible and spend time in prayer with the Lord; don’t worry if you send the kids to play in their room,” or
“Let the kids play outside by themselves; meditate on God’s mercy and pray in a quiet house for a while,” or even
“Clean your bathrooms; don’t worry about putting on a movie for your children.” or…. you get the point.

Why am I saying all this? It is not because I don’t think mothers should play with their children. In all honesty, it is because I have not seen a proper Christ-centered focus in the Christian community when it comes to motherhood. We’re so wrapped up with encouraging mothers to love their children and delight in them (which we should do appropriately) that we neglect THE WOMAN’S SOUL. Ladies you have eternal souls, you belong to Jesus, not to your children. Make your lives revolve around Christ, not your children. I believe you will find that when we focus on Christ, our parenting will harmonize around him. You will be able to love and serve your children better.

To repeat what I recently said on a friend’s blog: To the young mom, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of pursuing your relationship with Christ Jesus with passion and rigor. Out of this will flow all things. It’s okay to read blogs, articles and books that give schooling and parenting advice, but if that is your diet, you are headed for disaster. Feed on Christ, let that be your main food. It’s okay to read those other things, but in small quantities or they will become your rule of law and your eyes will be taken off of Christ. I can write pages on this, but I won’t.

 

 

 

 

40 thoughts on “You Do Not Belong To Your Children, You Belong To Christ

  1. I love this, Luma. I really, really love this. As a young mom I actually did hear people tell me it was okay to put on a movie and clean the bathroom, but not because it was a response to Christ’s love for me. The tension was between what I was doing for them vs. what I was doing for myself. So I simply carried the guilt no matter what I did. I struggled so much to see things from an eternal perspective that it was pretty hard to see Jesus at the center of it all. Mothering is so hard, and moms do need a lot of practical help getting through the hours day after day. But it is just impossible to do this without feeding our faith first.

  2. Just followed a friend’s link to your site and read this post and am shouting “yes”, “absolutely” right along with you. Can’t thank you enough for graciously striking against this child-centered movement that is both in and outside Christian circles. Our minds, as men and women who claim to follow Christ, must be transformed by the Word and then renewed to live it out in grace before our children and others who watch our witness. Thank you for sharing from your heart and encouraging us to be tethered more to the inexhaustible, wonderful, life-giving words of the Bible.

  3. Megan, you got me thinking of more things…which you always have a habit of doing my friend. ;-) You mentioned that the guilt stayed and so did the tension…I had some thoughts along the same lines (coming out of similar experiences). I think I’ll do a followup post on some of these ideas….

    Gloria, thank you for your encouragement! :-) I will write more.

    Betsy, I’m glad the writing the Lord laid on my heart has blessed you.

  4. A few years ago, I taught a bible study to a group of young mothers. There was homework involved in preparation for the weekly meetings. Many of the women said they had a hard time getting it done because they were so busy. I had a few of them on my Facebook friends list, and I was always surprised to see how often they were online. When my children were small, there was no internet and I was distracted enough with other things. I found it ironic that the ones who had time for Facebook or for weekly scrapbooking parties, never had time for the Word.

  5. AMEN.

    How I wish more womens’ ministries would focus more intentionally on supporting young mothers in how to maintain their relationship with Jesus through early baby years, rather so relentlessly focussing on mothering. What if Monday Moms groups were nothing more than collective Scripture reading, prayer, singing, then an opportunity for quiet time alone. Do the “practical” learning stuff opportunistically throughout the week. But be fiercely intentional about soul care.

  6. A hearty Amen! I could not agree with you more strongly.

    Your article was like kindling added to the fire burning in my soul- I have such a desire and burden to see our generation of moms (and women in general) become passionate about Christ and His Word.

  7. I think this is the very best article I have ever read on this subject….and I have read a lot of them. This is my heart…this is how I feel. I have tried to communicate some of these things to those women God has placed in my life and it has not been received well. Praise God for giving you the wisdom and insight to share this with other…I will be sharing it too!

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  9. Ladies, thank you for your thoughtful comments. It’s encouraging to know I’m not the only one that sees these things. This is a serious issue that I believe leaves women anemic. There will be more to come….

  10. You are right on! I have had the same feelings as well. I have four children ages 5, 3, 2, and 1. And there are times when the kids just do NOT come first. I’m reminded of the story of the great Suzanna Wesley (mother of John and Charles Wesley) who would pull her apron up over her head to have time to pray, and her numerous children knew that when she had her apron over her head, they were not to disturb her. I’m still training my kids to leave me alone when I’m reading my Bible.

  11. Wow, this is exactly what I needed to hear! As a mother of three daughters (four, two, and ten months) who is also battling some pretty severe late-onset postpartum depression, some days it is all I can manage to get my girls fed and clothed, and keep the house from complete and utter destruction. In a way it’s a blessing, because my soul yearns for God and His Word in a way that it never does when everything is going smoothly. However, if I listen to all the advice given by the few parenting blogs I do read, any spare energy I have would be put into doing special things with my girls instead of focusing on my Savior. Of course I spend time with my children when I can, reading and doing puzzles and playing outside, but sometimes my head gets so filled with all the child-centered advice that I feel extreme guilt if I give my children less attention so that my soul is healthy.

    I think you are spot-on! (And your post has a very gracious tone to it).

    Sent here by Challies’ blog, and I think I may need to read some more of your posts!

    • Bethany, I understand postpartum depression well. It is a dark and hard season. If I can gently encourage you to seek out a lady in your local congregation who can minister to you during this time. I know it’s hard to do, I know. It actually does not have to be someone who has suffered from postpartum depression or any kind of depression for that matter. Don’t get locked into thinking only someone who has gone through exactly what you have gone through can help you. What you want to look for is a woman who LOVES Jesus and is willing to come along side you and help you look to Christ and fall in love with him too. You will find that the more you can look away from yourself and look to Christ and serve others (when possible, I’m not laying on a burden here :-) ) the more you will come out of the darkness. Having a woman praying, helping, exhorting you through it would be HUGE. Take it to the Lord and see what he lays on your heart. Cling to Christ, Bethany, cling to Christ.

  12. This is my first visit here and this post is so good and so true. As an little bit older mom (my children are 15-22) one of my biggest regrets is not spending more time cultivating a deeper relationship with the Lord when my children were little and listening to too many voices out there telling me what I should be doing, instead of inclining my ear to True Wisdom. As a Christian homeschooler I see the tendency to very much be wrapped up in our children, even when (and especially) when they are in high school approaching college. The best gift we can give our children is a sincere, deep and abiding relationship with the Lord. I see a huge difference in my children’s own relationship with the Lord after I decided to put Him first.

    • It’s good to hear from older women about this issue. Your experience is worthy of paying attention to. As you said, you saw a huge difference in your children’s relationship with the Lord after you decided to make him your first priority. We have also seen a real tangible difference in our family and our children since we have done the same thing. Thank you for being willing to share your experience.

    • “As a Christian homeschooler I see the tendency to very much be wrapped up in our children, even when (and especially) when they are in high school approaching college. The best gift we can give our children is a sincere, deep and abiding relationship with the Lord. I see a huge difference in my children’s own relationship with the Lord after I decided to put Him first.”

      This is SO true.

      Love you, Luma :)

  13. Thank you so much for this. Much needed wisdom for our age and for me right now. I do hope there’s more to come and I’m adding you to my web reader, but it is so true that the internet (and many worthy blogs) are a huge time sink for many of us moms. Perhaps I’d do better not to read your blog any more any go read my bible!

  14. We have tried with our moms group to make it a Bible study and put the focus on womens’ relationships with Christ. As I begin planning for this year’s summer session, thank you for this reminder that this is exactly where the emphasis must stay, in our ministry and in my own life!

  15. over from Challies! Love this article. My 4 children are 11-18. Wow, I spent so many years feeling mother-guilt, that I wasn’t doing enough. By God’s grace and through many life trials, small and big, Jesus kept me clinging closely to him. And I am so thankful, as the fruit I am seeing in my children is a gift of God and I cannot boast that it was about me;it is all about what God was doing to love and carry me. Thank you for encouragng young mothers to seek Jesus first. I pomise everything else will come together in time.

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  17. Not that I’m disagreeing with anything, but I think it’s important to remember that just because the computer says someone is “on” Facebook doesn’t mean the person actually is. I check FB every couple of days for a few minutes at most, but I often get interrupted and leave my computer, come back hours later to find out I’m still logged on. Anyone checking would think I spent the entire day on FB and I didn’t! Please just don’t be too quick to assume…

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  22. As I read this post, a related thought resurfaced that I’ve wondered about before. Tell me what you think. When thinking about being too child-centered, do we include our children in activities that should be only for adults? I thought back to my childhood and didn’t remember going everywhere with my parents.(not speaking of shopping etc., but gatherings, parties etc.) It’s seems when my boys were young we got together with friends and, more often than not, brought them. Not sure if it’s just different or if one is better than the other. It’s a moot point now, but just thought I’d put it out there.

  23. That’s a good point to bring up, Nancy! And you know that there was a time when I would have balked at anything that was grown-ups only. I thought EVERYTHING had to be “family-integrated.” On the other hand, we don’t want to go to the other extreme where very little if anything is done with the kids. I want to give you the example of how I grew up and you tell me what you think:

    So even though most of my growing up years happened here in America, we still for the most part kept a Middle Eastern household with ALL of my parents’ friends being Arabs of one stripe or another, mostly Iraqi. The Middle Eastern culture was for the most part very family oriented, very “household” thinking. However, I thought my parents did a good job choosing wisely when to do things with other grown-ups. Something they did not do well is spend time together by themselves. That’s where Geoff and I are different, we work deliberately on time together. It’s hard sometimes because of his heavy work schedule. You know all about that, of course. But I hope/think you have seen an effort on our part to find a healthy “middle,” if you will.

    • So even though the “natural” thing to do was to gather with the family, they kind of broke with tradition and didn’t always bring you? I think my parents made good choices too. I also think there were less gatherings as a whole. They weren’t really involved in church, just the neighborhood and such. I think balancing between all family, just adults and couple time is needed. Finding the ‘balance’ is the key. Also, as the kids get older it takes more of an effort to have ‘just our family’ time. When you always bring them, they need/desire the other families and have less enjoyment of their own family.

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  29. The only way we can live up to the high calling of motherhood as well as our number one priorty in parenting, to give our children the gospel of Jesus Christ is to focus on Him. I appreciate your encourgement .
    In Christ,
    Jackie

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