I lived ALONE in China for five years. So how can it be that now just schlepping my two kids to the grocery store less than a mile from my house feels like an adventurous and arduous task? Motherhood has been a joyful and unexpected gift, but as a person who had kids in her mid-thirties, the adjustment has been a jarring one. But in the past few weeks, one new habit and two new ideas have brought a bit of clarity and hope to my life as a mother in this season with little ones when it can be hard to remember who you are, much less find Jesus in the fog.
1. Get off the porch
We live at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and I recently jogged past a house with a porch just steps from a mountain view. What a shame they can’t see the mountains, I thought. Were they to walk just ten feet from their house, they would have a spectacular view of the sun spraying the rugged mountains with pink light.
As I thought about missing my long pre-kid mornings spent with the Lord, I felt like there was a message in that for me—“Just get off the porch, Leslie. I’m right there waiting for you. All you need to do is show up.”
As a result, I’ve been trying to set aside 20 minutes every morning to read one day of the One Year Bible and a very short devotional. I’m trying not to categorize this time as a “quiet time” or “Bible study,” but instead see it as simply as spending time with Jesus. Sitting at His feet. Laying my tired head on His chest. Asking for His help and gathering my manna for the day. Yes, it sometimes means hiding in another room while my children scream from their rooms (they have plenty of toys to keep them busy), but even in the noise, God seems to be whispering loud enough for me to hear.
I still struggle with allowing myself lower expectations during this season, but God reminds me that if I just get off that porch and walk a few steps, He will meet me.
2. Wash the Feet
Honestly, there are some aspects of motherhood that I kind of abhor. What makes up my list of detestable chores? Sweeping the floor after EVERY blessed meal, changing poopy diapers, rinsing out cloth diapers (ugh, but worth it?), getting kids into bed when you’re dead tired yourself, cooking food that most likely won’t get eaten and dealing with Laundry Mountain.
But as I sought God this week, I read the story of Jesus washing His disciples’ disgusting feet and then telling everyone to follow suit (John 13). And certain aspects of my life as a mother to little ones became blindingly illuminated—and surprisingly elevated.
Do I see these mundane tasks as service to my King? Would I grumble as much if it were Jesus Himself asking me to do them? (As He is, in fact, doing.)
Somehow viewing these jobs as service to Jesus brings me more joy than thinking about doing them simply for my children. We don’t have the practice of foot washing as a norm in our culture, so perhaps if Jesus spoke to us today, He would instead be commanding us to change diapers, pick up paper towels off the church bathroom floor or make that toy truck “talk” for the one hundredth time today. What does “foot washing” look like for you?
3. Serve the Least of These
Another story that has hit me hard recently is when Jesus tells the disciples that when they treat what most people would consider to be “the least of these” with love, respect and compassion, they are serving Christ Himself. This story usually conjures images of soup kitchens, homeless shelters and slums, but this week as I thought about “the least of these” in my life, what came to mind were my two darling, frustrating little tow heads.
Don’t judge, but my oldest child is not potty trained and cannot dress himself. He and my daughter are completely dependent on my husband and me to meet their every need. Weak, helpless and vulnerable, our children are “the least of these.”
So as I think of them in this way, how does that change the way I go about caring for them on a daily basis? Do I see Jesus in their tiny hands, chubby knees and wispy hair? As I get up for the third time in the night to get my son his water or straighten out his blankets? Because Jesus says that as I serve the least of these, I am, in fact, serving Him (Mat. 25:40).
I miss hour-long quiet times in the stillness of dawn, my dirtiest tasks being to clean the bathroom whenever I felt like it and the days of serving others on my own terms. But that is not motherhood (nor is it being a Jesus-follower). So for now, I’m thankful that Jesus blesses my small efforts at holiness and for the reminders of His presence in the faces of the little people I am privileged to serve. Because as I serve them, I am serving Jesus Himself.
What does “foot washing” look like to you?
What is helping you find Jesus in the fog of motherhood right now?
For the Mom Whose Life Feels Small
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