Thursday, March 03, 2011

The Tension of Motherhood & Ministry

It is ten minutes to 8 o'clock in the morning, and I have just ushered my three oldest children out the door with their daddy amidst a flurry of last-minute packing, labeling school supplies, hairstyling, and kisses. The air is cool and the sky is light and within sight of our front door the first "crunch" of cars on their way to school has stopped traffic for a mile.

It is another day.

As the school morning frenzy ends and calmness descends, I find myself reflecting once more on the tension of balancing motherhood and ministry. I've sent my oldest three on their way and soon I will follow to meet with my colleague wives and plan the women's ministries of this new year. I look forward to this time of fellowship and preparation, yet feel a twinge of guilt at leaving behind unfinished laundry and other daily household tasks.

Most days, I rejoice in knowing that I am exactly where God wants me to be - and indeed, where I always hoped to return and serve Him. I feel blessed and excited to be part of a vibrant ministry and to dream of the endless possibilities for reaching people for His Kingdom here in Iquique. Often I sit with pen in hand and find myself filling pages with ideas for the future and ways to reach out to our community. I am excited to move forward and to get things done! - until I flip the page and look at another set of goals that beckon me.

This other list represents all that I wish to accomplish on the home front, but specifically in the lives of my children. Things like teaching my older kids how to have a quiet time; planning another girls' getaway weekend to pour into my daughter's lives and especially to talk about the special ways they are maturing physically; committing one night a week for family fun; planning mother/son and daddy/daughter dates on a regular basis; teaching my children to pray for those who support us by name; memorizing Scripture together; and the list goes on an on.

When I look at this second list I am overwhelmed. I am overwhelmed first and foremost by love for my children and the weight of wanting to succeed in this awesome task of parenting them. I am reminded again that if we were to have an amazing, successful ministry yet fail in raising them, everything else would seem meaningless. And that is where the tension comes in. A little voice in my head says, "I wish I could just be a mother" while another replies, "You are being supported to get the work of ministry done!" Yes, I know that motherhood is ministry and a great one. But the fact is that as a missionary I also have a "job" that is called ministry as well.

Overall, I feel that our life as missionaries is a wonderful blessing to our family. We spent a lot of time together because our "job" involves all of us to some extent. When we travel, we travel together. When Daddy preaches, we are all in attendance. When we want to reach out to a new family, we have them in our home. When I have a meeting like this morning, Daddy has the flexibility to work from home and stay with the little boys. When he is away for discipleship, I am home. In essence, our children get a lot of our time.

As I reflect on all of this, I am reminded that not all tension is bad for us. Sometimes it serves as a helpful impetus to keep striving to do more and find better ways to manage the responsibilities of life. Perhaps my great struggle is that I am not a multitasker, so I feel conflicted between the "tasks" on this page versus those on the other; but these are areas in which I can and should continue to learn and grow.

These are just some thoughts, but it helps me to process them through the written word. Even more helpful is THE written Word which gently tugs me towards balance when I lean too much in one direction or the other. I am so thankful for the reminder that "he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ!" He knows my struggles and insecurities but He uses them for good to mold me.

And that eases the tension after all.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for these thoughts, Steph. They bring back many memories and even some tensions that I sense today with ministry at the church versus teaching Spanish classes and tutoring to make some extra income. I love you sweetheart and I love the woman you are becoming. You are a wonderful mother.