Overwhelmed. That seems to be the most common response to the question of how mothers across our nation are currently feeling. Suddenly we are burdened with added financial stress, fearful of the health of our near-and-dear; tasked with educating, as well as caring-for, our children day-in and day-out. We seem to be carrying burdens that are too big to bear—and no rescue is in sight. What does God have to tell us at a time such as this?
I find it an interesting time. Old battle-lines—homeschooling mother vs pro-school mother; stay-at-home mother vs working mother—have had to be abandoned. We have all been called home. And homeward we have come—some dragging our feet, some a little more optimistic. And we all are being tested.
Old battle-lines have had to be abandoned. We have all been called home. And homeward we have come—some dragging our feet, some a little more optimistic. And we all are being tested.
What does God have to tell us at a time such as this?
The Theological Context of Motherhood
Not much, perhaps. The Bible is fairly minimal when it comes to instructions to just mothers, beyond providing examples of exemplary (and not-so exemplary) mothers; think Proverbs 31 vs Rebecca’s favouring of Jacob.
Yet there are certainly general instructions—either given to parents, or to fathers as the spiritual leader of the home. These include the original command to “be fruitful and multiply” and reminders that children are given as a blessing to God’s people and their communities (Psalm 127:3, Proverbs 31:28, Psalm 113:9).
There are also instructions on how to raise children. After giving Moses the Ten Commandments, God commands the people of Israel to bind God’s word to their hearts and on their souls, teaching them to their children in all circumstances, “talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up.” (Deut 6:7)
The key duty here is holding fast to the word of God and teaching it to our children. Like Timothy, we are to be teaching our children counter-culturally, sharing God’s ways with them from their infancy (2 Timothy 3:14-15).
As we come home, we may be confronted with the reality that we haven’t done this as faithfully as we should have. Some of us might discover that we have relied on our schools too much for the instruction and discipline in the character of our children. Some of us might find that, despite working so hard to provide for our children, we have failed to strive for the most important things: the wisdom that begins with the fear of the Lord and a character that reflects that fear.
Repentance and Restoration
If that is what we find, then there is good news. First, God will forgive us: if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all our unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
Second, this time of social distancing might give us an opportunity for a redeemed start. Our over-scheduled lives have had their calendars wiped overnight. Our outsourced parenting has come to a halt and a clean slate beckons. At last we have time—and no choice—to spend with our families.
Of course that, as we are also discovering, brings challenges of its own! In my next post, I will offer some hard-earned wisdom from homeschooling mums who know what it’s like to continually care for children at home.