The title of this post is something that has been giving me a lot of trouble lately. I struggle every day, every hour, every minute to overcome my flesh. Or perhaps the problem is, I don't overcome, because I don't struggle--I give in... I think the sanctifying reality of being a stay-at-home mom, is that you live with inconvenience. Live on a tight budget? Even more inconvenience. Homeschool your children? Even more...
Your whole life is controlled by the presence of your children--even in households where parental authority is respected and taught, 90% of your existence has to revolve around them. When they are teeny, you don't have any choice. They need all our time to provide their basic needs, and that doesn't stopp for at least 5-6 years (at lessening degrees). There is no decision you can make without considering the children.
Inside the home, until children are old enough to really be of help, mom does nearly everything, and the presence of children nearly always slows, hinders, and in a lot of situations undoes all the work. I think that this is why the feminist movement struck such a chord in so many women--the feeling that you are getting nowhere, doing the exact same tasks over and over. And as a mom doing this job, even when you have some idea of the importance of your work (in the long term), the minute by minute and day by day difficulties just shrink your life down and make it hard to remember the whole scope of what you are doing. It is so easy to get stuck in the details of getting coats on and "where is my shoe?" and vaccuming crumbs from under the table, and washing peed-on sheets, and plunging the toy out of the toilet, and digging race cars from under couch cushions. And as any mother of small children knows, living with day in and day out irritations, limitations, and the constant need to live for others is a HARD thing to do. Ann Voskamp of Holy Experience refers to needing things seen by others as being idols. We want our accomplishments to be seen. We want the recognition, the accolades. In our world of self-centered philosophy, this mindset is rampant. And the place it is most rampant is on the college campus! And yes this desire can become (or already is) an idol. We cloak it up under lots of names. We listen to lots of pop psychologists who tell us we deserve the time away, the extra income, the recognition. But, if we have a choice, is it God's best for us? God's best for us is always striving for Christ-likeness. And what is that? Pouring out our lives for others, as He did. Learning to rid ourselves of discontent, grumbling, unthankfulness, idolatry, self-importance,no matter the circumstance, and coming to rely on the only one who can redeem us and make us into new creatures.
What are we showing by our example to our children?? Are we showing them how to live for ourselves? Are we showing them how to rely on the strength the Holy Spirit can provide minute by minute? Are we showing them how and why to take everything to the Lord in prayer? Or are we so disgusted with our "lot" in life, that we do the bare minimum necessary for our households, and take every opportunity to leave our children so that we can feel like we are doing something worth while?
My parting thought is this--Mother Theresa was a beautiful woman and I believe, a godly one. Most people, mothers included would point to her as a wonderful example of loving godliness. However, she and all her fellow sisters spent a good portion of their time doing exactly what mothers do. She and her sisters of charity took care of babies, cleaned, fed, cooked, clothed anyone who needed them under stressful, and not ideal circumstances. Why do we see caring for the poor and the leper in Calcutta as being godly work, and see caring for our own flesh and blood as being inconvenient, bothersome, and frustrating?