“My children are so sanctifying,” or “motherhood is so sanctifying,” are the current Christianese ways to say, “my kids are driving me nuts!” Of course, motherhood *is* a wonderful way the Holy Spirit may sanctify us, but the problem with that statement is that it assumes everyone who is a mother is being sanctified through it. Unfortunately, the easiest thing in the world would be to persist in your sin and lack of Christlikeness as a mother. How many times have I selfishly rushed my children into bed to get some alone time? Or lost my patience with them? Or spoken unkindly to them? What I’ve learned is that, to really be sanctified through motherhood and not just exhausted by it, I must embrace sanctification through motherhood, be intentional in it, and submit to God in it.
It’s easy to NOT be sanctified through motherhood. Motherhood is easiest when you aren’t going out of your way to serve your children, deny yourself, give to them, come alongside them, and teach them and re-teach them the same simple truths dozens of times a day. Motherhood is busy and exhausting, which often leads to dry spells in pursuing the Lord. Sanctification is NEVER something that just happens to you. Difficult circumstances and hard work are not magic beans that yield the fruit of Christlikeness. In fact, it’s at busy and stressful times that it is easiest to neglect the Holy Spirit in your life and your spiritual disciplines, or worst yet, to resist sanctification. Sanctification is something the Holy Spirit does inside of us, but it requires our obedience and teachability.
Embrace The Gospel in Motherhood
This is where good theology is so helpful. The task of parenting is to raise children to know the Lord by explicitly telling them about God and by implicitly providing a physical representation of God’s love for them. This means that we, as parents, must know God’s love ourselves. Motherhood is most sanctifying because we learn from Scripture how God loves and cares for us as our Heavenly Father, and then we imitate Him. It’s a beautiful two-fold lesson: first we learn how God loves us, and second, we share that love with our children. God created the family to help us learn more about Him and to provide a context for intimacy and discipleship. When we embrace the Gospel call in motherhood, we are asking the Holy Spirit to reveal our Father to us and make us more like Him.
Intentionally Seek the Lord in Motherhood
I don’t know about you, but my mommy-ing duties are never done. If I don’t intentionally set aside and protect my time with the Lord, it won’t happen. From the moment my kids wake up to the moment I go to bed, I could easily move from one task to the next and never once engage my heart, mind, and soul. But my time with my Creator, Sustainer, and Lord is the most important thing I do for my children and for me. Mothers are missionaries, ministering to the hearts of little ones who desperately need Jesus. But you cannot preach a Christ you do not know or love like a God who you have not met. Because this season is so busy, here are some ways to intentionally seek Him.
- Pray for the Lord to reveal Himself to you and make you more like Him.
- Fill your mind and time with Scripture and prayer.
- Memorize His Word.
- Write down what you’ve learned, and share it with those around you.
- Surround yourself with wise and godly counsel.
- Do not forsake The Body.
- Confess your sin.
This is how you can grow closer to the Lord, even during these little years.
Submit to the Lord’s Sanctification in Motherhood
This means you must let go of everything the world says about motherhood. Even the things Christians say about motherhood need to be analyzed and checked against Scripture. Our theology, our understanding of God from His Word, should transform our motherhood. According to Scripture, motherhood is a lot less about screen time, rear facing, vax’ing, and sensory bins and a lot more about “teaching them as you go by the way.” You might think you know how to parent. You’ve read the right books by the right authors, and now you’ve got it down; but, my friend, we never arrive. Even if you were to parent for a hundred years, you would still need the Father to constantly show you how to do what He does. Sisters, your soul will find unending peace and joy as you learn how precious you are to your Father, and that is what will sanctify you, change your actions, and make you more tender, long-suffering, gracious, and wise toward your children.
Motherhood doesn’t sanctify me because my kids disobey. Motherhood doesn’t sanctify me because it’s difficult to be up ten times in the middle of the night for weeks on end. Motherhood doesn’t sanctify me just because I AM a mother. The Holy Spirit sanctifies me, and I have to willingly submit to the Holy Spirit’s work of sanctification in my life and intentionally seek to grow more like Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. Please don’t think that having your sin exposed by your short temper with your children or your inability to answer their questions about the Gospel is all there is to sanctification. If that conviction does not lead to confession and repentance, and if those questions do not lead to searching Scripture and praying for God to reveal Himself to you, then you are not cooperating with the Holy Spirit in your sanctification.
But, when you do respond, you become more like Christ through the powerful work of the Holy Spirit, and your kids get a front row seat to see how God changes their mom. What better evangelism and discipleship is there?