I’m up past my bedtime, but I’m determined to stay awake until my teenager comes home from play practice. I’m using the time to rework my meal plan for the umpteenth time, trying to find that golden combination of cheap + healthy + easy. Then I’m hoping to send a quick email explaining why I have to say, “Not now,” to a work trip that would take me away from my family for one too many weekends.
But why? Why am I giving up my precious sleep and pinching pennies and researching healthy family meals and turning down opportunities?
My answer matters: it will shape the way I respond to my daughter when she walks in the door. It will determine the attitude with which I order the groceries and stock the fridge and serve the meals. My “why” will either bear good fruit or bad fruit.
The wrong “why” costs me—big time. Let’s say I’m waiting up and working on the meal plan and saying “Not now,” because I feel guilty. I will scramble to get out of the mom-guilt pit, only to feel more overwhelmed than ever. Or let’s say I’m doing all the “mom” things out of fear. I’ll only feel more afraid and probably make my kids feel afraid too. Or if I only want to people-please, I will end up feeling bitter toward the people I was trying to appease (or impress or imitate).
Can you relate? As moms, you and I make countless sacrifices every day, and our “why” really matters. We are like seeds, laying down our lives, hoping something good will grow. When we lay down our lives out of guilt, fear, or people-pleasing, it’s as if we’re planting our seeds in poisoned soil: no good fruit will grow. But if our motivation aligns with God’s will for us—if we let Him determine our “why”—we will lay our lives down in good soil and we can expect good fruit to grow from our labor of love.
It's worth pausing and asking why we’re tackling the to-do lists, feeling the feels, and mulling over our children’s well-being. It’s worth remembering God’s why for motherhood.
We Do What We Do Because Jesus Laid Down His Life for Us
Jesus loves us and laid down His life for us. We were dead in our sins; now we are alive in Christ! We were enemies with God; now we are friends, daughters, and heirs! We were slaves to sin; now we are free to love God and people. We are free to do the work He establishes for us with grateful hearts. Everything about us—including our motherhood—is lived for and by Christ.
I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Gal. 2:20)
If God has made you a mom, by birth or adoption, He has done it on purpose. He has good work for you to do in that relationship. Jesus gave Himself for you so you could give of yourself for your child. Your life as a mother is an opportunity to imitate Jesus, to live the truly good life, and to know Him better through it all.
We are “his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do” (Eph. 2:10). This includes every glorious and mundane task of motherhood. Just think: God chose you to peel a banana for your toddler, to guide your child through middle school, to make tough decisions about screen time, and to teach your child about God’s grace through Jesus Christ.
Of course, when the calling feels too lofty—as it often does—we can ask our Heavenly Father for help. He will equip us “with everything good to do his will, working in us what is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever” (Heb. 13:21).
We Do What We Do Because God Loves Our Children
In the daily grind, we may forget to see our children through God’s eyes, but when we do, we remember the importance of our relationship with them. Our children are fearfully and wonderfully made by God. God has written our children’s days in His book. He thinks about our children all the time.
God wants our children to hear about Him. He wants us to teach them about His character, His promises, and His plan for redemption. He wants our children to hear, “God loves you.” And He wants our children to love Him back. He wants them to obey His Word, to be led by His Spirit, to repent and be saved. He wants our children to proclaim, “Jesus is Lord!” with grateful hearts of praise. This is true around the clock, whether we’re helping our kids with their homework, playing a game after dinner, or carpooling to practice.
You and I have the unique opportunity to communicate God’s love to our children. Oh, that I would be first in line! Oh, that I wouldn’t give up when the going gets rough and that my love for my kids would echo God’s love for them! May the words of 1 John 4 burst into life as I raise my children: “Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. If we love one another, God remains in us and his love is made complete in us” (vv. 11–12). Although my sons and daughters cannot see God, I hope that they will experience something of His love through my listening ear, ready smile, and willingness to do whatever it takes to maintain our relationship. Oh, how I pray for the grace to abide in Christ’s love and to do whatever it takes to share His love with my kids.
We Do What We Do Because God Loves Us
One day, weary from “doing the mom thing” for all the wrong reasons, I opened my Bible to 1 Corinthians 13—the “love” chapter—and learned this important motherhood lesson: if I want good fruit to grow from my sacrifices, I must lay down my life in God’s love for me. Here’s how 1 Corinthians 13 applies to my life as a mom; I hope it blesses you with a fresh reminder of “why” you are laying your life down as a mom too.
One Mom’s Meditation on 1 Corinthians 13
If I am a mom but don’t have love, I am just a woman trying to manage my child’s life. If I craft words to communicate perfectly with my child, but have not love, I am a noisy gong. If I have all the answers regarding my child’s well-being, and if I serve my child around the clock, but don’t have love, I’m just a weary servant. If I give away all I have, and if I offer my body as a place for my child to grow, cling, cry, and cuddle, if I am utterly consumed by motherhood, but have not love, I gain nothing.
But if I burrow myself deep in God’s love for me, I will thrive and have something truly nourishing to offer my child. God is patient with me as I figure out how to raise my children. He is kind toward me even when I am hard on myself. He doesn’t envy me when I’m thriving as a mom, nor does He boast about how much better He would do it. He is not arrogant or rude toward me even though I show the wear and tear of motherhood. He does not insist on His own way but created me to be the unique, one-of-a-kind, right woman for the job. He is not irritable with me even when I pester Him for help, nor is He resentful of me when I just don’t understand. God doesn’t rejoice when I mess up, but He loves when I get it right. He believes the truth about me. He bears all my motherhood burdens. He hopes for the best. God endures all things on my behalf, and His love for me—and for my child—never ends.
I’m working from a limited understanding of motherhood and what it takes to raise my child. Someday, I will fully understand how much God knows and loves us. But for now, the greatest thing I can do is to let His love surround me, warm my heart, rewire my brain, massage my emotions, guide my actions, permeate my personality, rearrange my schedule, dismantle my defenses, surprise me with answered prayers, and give me every reason to expect something beautiful to grow.