I'm in that stage of life when so many friends are trying to or are about to or are have just had- babies. Last night at community group, I got to see some of the newest little ones, and this morning I woke up thinking about how I need to make sure that I buy a card for one that's on the way.
I am not at all a "baby person."I don't feel the itch to hold a newborn. In fact, when I get hold of them, I mostly make them cry. Maybe it's me that makes them itch. We could be allergic to one another. But with so many precious women around me taking part in God's plan to "be fruitful and multiply" I confess that I am just a little bit in awe of what God can do in a new mom.
From a Biologist's vantage point, new life is another miracle of cell division. I'm not belittling birth by saying that, I'm elevating God's incredible handiwork. Science is God's handwriting, and how much more elegant does His Signature get than putting together a person inside of another person. It's weird and gross and beautiful and amazing all at the same time. Only God can accomplish something like that.
But, even apart from the awesomeness of creation, I am amazed at the heart-change in these women. And I mean heart in the symbolic form, not the cardiac chamber. I can't really explain it because I don't think it can be explained, but you've certainly seen it- we all have. It's that look a new mom gives to her newborn, a look for which we lack an adequate word in the English language. I saw it last night. My friend Valerie held her baby boy in her arms and just talked about the most normal things. She wasn't trying to draw attention to herself, but I couldn't help but think to myself how incredibly beautiful she looked. I think that might sound sort of weird, but if you're going to write the truth, sometimes you might end up writing things that sound weird. So I'll risk it to make this point. It's not that Valerie wasn't beautiful before she had Carter. She is a lovely person, but there is something more beautiful about her now, when she holds her son in her arms. I noticed the same beauty when I looked at a picture of another friend with her niece. This friend, not yet a mom, is also starting to glow with that unfamiliar beauty. And another picture of a friend holding her daughter in her arms while she looks at her husband.
Like I said, I don't know what to call it, so I'm going to borrow some of Lemuel's words.
Her children arise and call her blessed.
Blessed. I like this definition of the word blessed- "held in veneration, revered." That resonates with me. It accurately describes how I feel when I behold my friends with their newborns or nieces- reverence.
But in Proverbs 31 it's not the random bystander friend who is calling the mother "blessed," it's her own children. They "arise" and call her "blessed." What an incredible honor. So how does one accomplish this? Will Carter rise one day and call Valerie blessed? Will your son or daughter say the same of you? Can we hope for that, and what can we do to achieve it?
Another definition for the word "blessed" is "holy." Holy means set apart, different, and for a believer in Jesus Christ, it's a call to be like the God we worship. "Be holy as I am holy." The Proverbs woman who desires for children- her own, her nieces and nephews, her students or whichever children God has given to her- to call her "blessed" must become holy as He is holy.
Holiness for us doesn't mean that we live perfect lives. Only God is perfect, but it does mean that we are becoming perfect, which sounds really high stakes- and it is. But I can't think of anything holier than living out the process of becoming more like Christ before your children. Letting them see your weaknesses as a showcase for the Lord's strength, holding to the truth about God and man, even when it seems like you're the only one who believes.
But what could be more like Christ, more holy, than loving? Mothers demonstrate Christlike love when they sacrifice their own desires and needs for their children. When they listen to the troubles in their life. When they hold them in their arms. When they encourage them with words. When they make an effort to find out how they are doing. When they take interest in the things that interest them. When they correct them gently and fairly when they are wrong. These are all things that Jesus did when He walked on Earth. They are things that God the Father wanted represented to us through human relationship. And they're things that every good mother that I know does well.
It's likely that if you represent Christ consistently to your children that they will one day rise and call you blessed. But you might (and probably will) have to walk through fire to get there. I know that my mom did. While you commit to become a mother of Light, your children will be tempted to walk in darkness. And some of them might choose that darkness over the Light. I did. When that happens, the reaction is like oil and water. Rather than calling mother "blessed" her children will call her "cursed." But in those moments, they are the ones that are deceived. 2 Corinthians 6 warns that light has nothing in common with darkness. They cannot appreciate or understand one another. They repel and react- sometimes causing great division and enormous pain. If you find yourself in that position as a mother today or one day in the future- persevere. Light is stronger. Keep shining, keep loving, keep listening, keep praying. My mom did, and today, I most certainly consider her "blessed" for trusting the Lord with my life. And loving me enough to pursue me and correct me. He brought me back into His Light so that I can see and understand His love demonstrated through her.
Don't let your children not have a reason to call you blessed. What is sadder than a child, either a small one or a grown-up one, who does not know what it feels like to be loved, believed, encouraged, noticed, cared for? You cannot control what your children will grow up and believe about you, but your mothering can give them reason to "arise" and call you blessed. Don't give in to apathy. You've been given a high calling, and the reward is great.
Also, consider all of the children that God might be calling you to "mother." You might not yet have children of your own, but God might have placed other people's children in your life so that you can demonstrate His love and care to them.
A challenge to all my mom friends out there- commit yourselves to the Light. He is working out His beauty in you in the most wonderful way, and has given you such a precious opportunity to represent Him to these brand new people! I cannot think of anything sadder than to have the opportunity to show the love of the Lord to a human being before anyone else, and to let that opportunity just pass you by. Be diligent in learning about Jesus, who He is, how He lived, how He treated people. And not only teach, but demonstrate His life to your children, in humility and truth. And, by His grace, maybe one day, your children will arise and call you blessed.