I grew up in a culture that told me motherhood was a blessing, and an honor, and rightly so.
But I was also taught that motherhood was the pinnacle of my personhood; that all my gifts were solely so that I could fulfill this responsibility first and foremost; that I would be a “bad” mom if I didn’t choose to stay at home with my children; and that once they entered the picture, my needs and desires no longer mattered.
These messages were often subtle and subliminal, and at other times, they were shouted, in a most literal sense.
Some of it came from unhealthy churches, some of it from well-meaning authority figures, and some of it came from my own inner need to do “the right thing,” no matter the cost, in order to believe I was “good”.
The easiest way to be sure you do “the right thing” is to construct a black-and-white world where there is only one right choice.
This black-and-whiteness is usually blamed on God and the Bible, but it really comes from the driving desire of our own hearts to find ourselves sufficient.
When I became a mother, all of the lies that I had swallowed became a sea of overwhelming despair and guilt that then swallowed me.
Through a great deal of observation, questioning, and unofficial counseling, I have come to understand this:
My identity is first and foremost one of being in union with Christ. Motherhood is simply one of the roles I play within this union.
This sounds like a simple, perhaps even minor, shift of thought. For me, it has been life-altering.
The identity we choose becomes the lens through which we view ourselves. It dictates the standards against which we measure our actions, choices, and ultimately our hearts.
When this identity is anything other than our union with Jesus, we are already setting ourselves up for failure.
Consider this: you will never be a perfect parent, writer, spouse, friend, child, employee, or student. When any of these becomes your identity, instead of a role you fill, and you make a mistake…your actual identity is tied to your performance.
The result can be devastating.
So for the woman who believes her only worth is found in the mothering of her children; who fights the guilt that if she just tried harder and gave up more, she would be a “good mom”; who thinks that her identity is summed up in “Mom”; this year, give yourself the gift of believing that your identity is found first and last in Christ.
And, he is perfect. Any of your mess-ups he can master. All your insufficiency is made sufficient in him…without you trying for it.