The only signs that are left from Leslie’s Bridal shower this weekend are a vase full of flowers and a “wall of streamers” that we put up to hide our packed boxes in the stairwell. As I look back, this whole shower, and the planning process that led up to it, all feel like one big whirlwind.
I remember lying in bed one night, very shortly after Bob proposed to Leslie, thinking about this great idea I had for a Bridal shower talk. That’s probably how it all started. It was one of the many ideas I propose to Dan, and then brace myself as I expect him to tell me why it’s actually not a good idea (usually the case, sad but true). This was one of those ideas. However, this was one of the few that Dan approved, which led us to the Bridal shower that happened this weekend. I’m planning to tell all about the shower on Wednesday, so those who are interested will have to stop on by later to hear more about that.
This post is about the talk I gave at the shower, and even more so, it’s about the aftermath of that talk. As one of the hostesses of this shower, I was given the go-ahead to share a little talk on “How to be a good wife”. This was based on the Bible, and not just my own experience, because I really don’t have that much experience! (Three years at the end of the month, but that’s nothing compared to some of the other ladies in the room) In my talk I had the chance to tell some of my own stories, share advice from other wives, read a couple Bible verses, and even explain the Gospel message as an example of the beauty of submission (Jesus’ submission to the Father). I think it went really well.
After spending so much time preparing, praying, and finally giving a talk like this, I can totally understand why so many stay-at-home-moms seek more ministry opportunities. However, after my own little ministry experience, I feel content and assured of the flock that God has given me.
Let me back up a little. A few weeks ago, at Hope Group (which is what our church calls its Bible studies which happen throughout the week), our Pastor was reading to us from a book called Signs of a Healthy Church. There was a bit of an aside in the book in which the author addressed pastors. He was warning against a common desire for pastors to have a bigger or more important ministry. He told of a nineteenth-century pastor named John Brown, who had a young friend that had recently begun to pastor a small congregation. In a letter to his friend, John Brown said,
“I know the vanity of your heart, and that you will feel mortified that your congregation is very small, in comparison with those of your brethren around you; but assure yourself on the word of an old man, that when you come to give an account of them to the Lord Christ at his judgment seat, you will think you have had enough.”
Even though John Brown and the author of this book were talking to pastors, the parallel to my role as a stay-at-home-mom was clear in my mind. How easy it is for a mom to look at her kids, and the daily grind that she goes through, and long for a different ministry. How many other people could she reach if she wasn’t busy all day changing diapers and potty training, homeschooling and preparing snacks, disrupting sibling arguments and teaching her toddlers not to say “no” to Mommy?
In fact, I wrestled through this myself not too long ago. I emailed a few other Christian ladies, asked for book suggestions, and had long talks with my husband. Was I really doing everything God wanted me to, or was I settling for a simpler, easier, more comfortable, and certainly more “normal” Christian life? I would read about missionaries from long ago, and missionaries who are still living, and wonder if I could have reached more people if I wasn’t “just a stay-at-home-mom”. And then, to make things worse, many of my resources seemed to imply that toddler-raising is a season, after which we women are freed up for more meaningful ministry. But that’s wrong. It is noble to be a stay-at-home-mom, and not just so that your kids can grow up to be missionaries.
What finally ended the search for me was when I realized that family is God’s primary method for ministry, and it is (I do believe) the most effective. Before I go any further, I better explain that I do support missionaries, and I do believe God calls different men and women to serve in alternative ways, and that is a good thing. However, the discipleship relationship that very many Christians wish they could have is really just an imitation of what a parent-child relationship was designed to be.
So, while I am happy for any opportunities that God gives me to minister to others, I am also happy with my own little flock: Lydia (and soon Baby #2). Together with Dan, I am content to spend my time, my prayers, my experiences (and hopefully wisdom!) and Bible knowledge with our precious little Munchkin who still can’t understand most of what I’m telling her.
Maybe the days aren’t always exciting. Maybe potty training is really unpleasant. But when I comfort Lydia because she scraped her knees on the sidewalk and “it hurts!” (pronounced in a very touching, tear-filled toddler voice and also without the ‘r’, which is still to difficult for her to pronounce, so it sounds a bit like she has an English accent), I am demonstrating God’s love to her. After all, is it so different? Our little problems, our temper tantrums, our anxieties must seem so small in His eyes. And yet, He tells the children to come.
So, I can honestly say that I am happy with my little flock. It doesn’t feel like too much for me, but I know that it is. Yet, I know and can stand confidently on the truth that this is the assignment God has given me and He can give me what I need to do a faithful job. So this is my ministry. This is my flock. And on judgment day I know that it will have been more than enough.