For as long as I can remember, my mom has had a picture hanging in her house with this saying:
"Content to sacrifice my time to meet my child's needs."
While my parents have moved over the years, the picture has gone with her everywhere she goes. It is still there today, and it embodies how she loved my brothers and me.
When we feel the sacrifice of motherhood pulling us in every possible direction, this is our model. Jesus Christ.
Now that I am a mom, I am confronted with this familiar saying every time I visit my parents. Motherhood is filled with sacrifice, isn't it? From the moment we conceive, we sacrifice our body, our energy level, favorite foods, and in some cases what we just ate for breakfast, for the well-being of our growing baby.
When our baby is born, we sacrifice sleep, time, and brain cells to care for this precious life. The sacrifice only continues as our baby grows into a toddler, an elementary school student, or a teenager. Each stage brings new freedoms, but also new sacrifices. They also bring new opportunities to be content with the sacrifice required of us.
As we ponder sacrificial motherhood, it's helpful to look to the One who made the ultimate sacrifice for us—our Savior, Jesus.
Philippians 2:5–8 says:
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
When we feel the sacrifice of motherhood pulling us in every possible direction, this is our model. Jesus Christ, who was fully God and fully man, obeyed perfectly to the point of death. He did not consider Himself above the sacrifice required of Him, instead He looked to the joy that was set before Him—our salvation (Heb. 12:2). He despised the shame of the cross, knowing that it was only a temporary affliction that would lead to glory.
As Dr. Bruce Ware says, when Paul tells us to have "this mind among ourselves" (Phil. 2:5), this is the mind he is talking about—the mind of Christ. As mothers, we need Christ-infused eyes to see that the sacrifices we make today are preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison (2 Cor. 4:17).
The temporary suffering and affliction that motherhood places upon us, whether in the sleepless nights, wayward children, postponed personal goals, temper tantrums, or feverish toddlers, is just that—temporary. But it's also an opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Christ and share in His suffering, as we lose our life in the lives of precious children who have souls that will never die (Matt. 16:25).
Growing up I didn't understand how important it was that my mom embraced the saying she kept hanging in our house. But I experienced it. I experienced her daily giving up her own comfort so I could be comfortable and secure. I received her life-giving care in ways I only know about now that I am on the other side of motherhood. I never heard her complain about lack of free time or sleep. I never heard resentment over her limitations as a mother to four children. I saw joy and felt love. And through it, I saw her live out what it means to have the mind of Christ flow out of her.
She was content to sacrifice her time to meet her child's needs. As a mom to small children myself now, I am learning to see that it is in this contentment and sacrifice that we are given the opportunity to love like Christ loves and live like He lived—with joy-filled abandon, knowing that no sacrifice is too great for the good of souls that will never die.