May 6, 2016

It’s All Good / Patti Lamb

In ministry of motherhood, God uses us in wonderful ways

Patti LambRecently at a church mom’s group meeting, I was challenged to pause and reflect on the “ministry” of motherhood.

I never really viewed it as a ministry, so it was a good spiritual exercise. It made me see motherhood in a new way. Often, I view it as a series of duties: taking the kids to doctor and dentist appointments; making sure their homework gets done; getting them to practice on time; encouraging them to eat right. As all moms know, the list goes on and on.

But when I view motherhood as a ministry, my attitude about my responsibilities changes.

I read that “ministry” comes from the Greek word “diakoneo,” which means “to serve.” One web site answering Bible questions ( summarized it this way: “In the New Testament, ministry is seen as service to God and to other people in his name. Jesus provided the pattern for Christian ministry—he came, not to receive service, but to give it (Mt 20:28).”

I’m learning to view an hour spent helping my son study for a Spanish exam as an act of service. If I view it as a way to serve one of God’s people, I meet the task with new eyes. One of my motherly “duties” has now become an opportunity to show love.

Further reflection on this ministry has made me realize that there’s one part of motherhood with which I particularly struggle. Where I get into trouble is when I compare my motherhood journey to that of others.

I look at Christmas cards other moms send out, with their kids in perfectly color-coordinated clothes in front of a beautiful backdrop, and I feel inferior.

Someone shows me a mom’s Facebook post, celebrating her daughter’s third consecutive tournament win, and I question my parenting abilities. My kids aren’t exceedingly talented in the area of sports. Should I be pushing harder? They haven’t found their niches yet. Should they be playing an instrument? Should we resume art lessons?

I have a friend whose son is struggling with addiction. One afternoon, she said to me, “What did I do wrong?”

I think there are times when we all question our abilities as mothers.

We must remember: It’s not a contest.

God has given us our own unique souls to nurture. Our journeys are different. They cannot be compared. We are called to love the souls God has entrusted to our care. We are called to help them get to heaven. If we help them win a spelling bee or get them through college or down the aisle, that’s great. But our main job, I believe, is to teach them about God’s grace and mercy.

In essence, we are spiritual directors who are called to start them on their roads to heaven. I’m finding that the secret to keeping sanity during motherhood is not to compare with others, but to embrace the family with which God has blessed us. Our roads look very different, but God gives us the grace to handle the paths we’ve been assigned.

A friend recently gave me a book that begins with this beautiful quote by St. Francis de Sales. “Do not wish to be anything but what you are, and try to be that perfectly.”

Mother’s Day is Sunday. This weekend, I encourage all mothers, as one friend encouraged me, to view motherhood as a ministry, and to recognize that God is using you in wonderful ways. He is proud of you.

(Patti Lamb, a member of St. Susanna Parish in Plainfield, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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