• Linsey Wildey

Doing the Holy Work of Mothering


Whenever I walk into a room full of moms I feel like I am walking on holy ground....I see consecration in the lack of sleep in the eyes, worry on the brows, weight carried on the shoulders (or in an Ergo), and sheer exhaustion of the body.


All signs of devotion — that holy work is happening because of one’s whole dedication.


Holy work is also happening when a mama:

  • Brings an adopted child home for the first time

  • Tries to keep her head above water with two kids under the age of four while living with the memory of another’s passing

  • Fosters two kids and is on the cusp of learning how to integrate a blended family

  • Helps her child learn about racial and physical differences and similarities

  • Navigates a cross-continental transition due to a military reassignment

  • Is a single mom who is learning to co-parent in less than ideal circumstances

  • Is in the shock and grief of a child diagnosis


But motherhood is not just holy work because of what we are doing, it is holy work because of who we are becoming — it gives us opportunity to become more whole.


"....motherhood is not just holy work

because of what we are doing; it is holy work

because of who we are becoming...."


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Recently, my husband and I had dinner with some friends who have two littles. In the conversation about the hi’s and low’s of parenting my husband said:


“Wouldn’t parenting be so much easier if it didn’t involve our own transformation?”


In essence, he was acknowledging that with every twist and turn in parenting, there is an opportunity (if we choose to take it) to be formed more into the likeness of Christ — for our rough places to be made smooth, for our broken places to be made whole.


In essence, this holy and wholly work is a door to more personal wholeness.


But in doing the work of the deeper journey, or just going through a particularly hard day, what is God’s part and what is our part?


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In any relationship we can have a tendency to overfunction or underfunction, to overgive or undergive, to rescue or to be the one waiting to be rescued.


The same goes for our relationship with God.


We can think that our wholeness (or lack thereof) is all up to us or that it is all up to God. However, the truth is, that God is right there in the wings waiting to partner with us in everything we do — big and small.


In a season when I started doing work around my leanings towards codependency and being overly responsible for others, my spiritual director started by reminding me what the division of labor looks like between God and me.


We took a moment to create two columns and jotted down things that were God’s to do and things that were mine to do. Consider taking some time to reflect on the two columns below through the following reflection exercise:


Directions:

  • Slowly read the descriptors of God’s part — letting them sink into your heart.

  • Then take a moment to slowly read the descriptors related to your part.


God’s Part in Doing the Work

God, you offer me truth

God, you offer me love

God, you offer me forgiveness

God, you offer me security

God, you offer me truth

God, you offer me love

God, you offer me forgiveness

God, you offer me security

God, you offer me consistency

God, you offer me your unending presence

God, you offer me grace

God, you offer me mercy

God, you offer me goodness

God, you offer me wisdom

God, you offer me care

God, you offer me comfort

God, you offer me rest

God, you offer me peace

God, you offer me _______________


My Part in Doing the Work

To listen to You

To respond to Your invitations

To surrender outcomes not in my control

To trust Your redemptive purposes

To receive what You offer me

To be honest with my desires

To _________________


Reflection:

  • As you read through both columns what stands out to you?

  • Which one of God’s offerings do you need to receive today? Circle, it, underline it or just take a moment to breathe it in.

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Every time I sit with this exercise one of the things that jumps out to me is how long God’s list is and how short mine is, how active God’s list is and how inactive mine feels. It flashes me back to an ancient prayer that was written by a guy named Paul to a people group who were doing some holy work of their own — perhaps it is meaningful for you today:


And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power...to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ [for you]….Ephesians 3:18


So as you juggle all that you are holding today, my prayer for you is that you may be able to absorb a drop of God’s love today and in faith say, God, I receive your______________today.


Hush.


The holy work has just found you.






*This piece first appeared in The MOPS Magazine Fall 2020; mops.org