I would have hurled my iPod Touch across the car, but I really like it and didn’t want to break it. I mean, seriously, has there ever been anything cooler than the iPod/iPhone/iPod Touch* in the history of gadgets?
Here was the scene: I had downloaded a podcast of a sermon from a large superchurch here in Colorado. A friend recommended a particular sermon series. I was intrigued: this church is popular and I had always wondered what the teaching was like. A podcast seemed like the perfect way to eavesdrop on one of their services. I settled in behind the wheel on my way to work and began to listen.
Sadly, the message I chose to download carried with it a message of condemnation for working moms. The basic gist: the early years are short and fly by, never to return, so mothers should be at home with their kids. Sure, it’s your decision moms, but there is no one like a mother in your child’s life.
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. The speaker even mentioned getting hate mail over his sermon topics and I think he even joked about “not walking out” on his message. I did what I could and walked out of his sermon by jamming the pause button.
(This, ladies and gentlemen, is why large numbers of Americans give the church a wide berth. This is why people drive by church buildings and say, “What’s in there for me?” and then keep on driving.)
My post today is not about this sad, poorly misguided sermon message that speaks to exactly three people. My message today (and I hope you forward to it every working mother you know) is this: Jesus loves you. He loves your job, he loves your mothering and he yearns to be by your side as you meld both worlds together.
Who do I write this to? I pray for you, Dear Reader. In fact, the notes in my journal this week are: “Lord, give me a supernatural love for my blog readers.” I ask God specifically to help me love you and pray for you. So, in my mind, you are some version of the following (or none at all): a single working mother who did not expect her marriage to end and still mourns its demise; a married mother who works but wishes she could stay home; a stay-home mother who aches for adult conversation but loves her role dearly; an engaged woman wondering what path her life will take; a widowed mother back in the workforce because her kids have to eat; a never-married mother scraping by on what her child’s father gives her; a working mother who feels guilty because she thinks she should stay home but doing so holds little appeal.
And my message to you is to point to the One who does not condemn you. No! He lives to give you life and to give it abundantly. A cup running over; an ocean of rest; a safe cranny to take a breath until you are ready to carry on. He is your safe harbor, your constant friend, your life-giving beginning and end.
Let me put this clearly: If you are a mother and also fill out a W-4, there is love for you. It is the best and highest and most precious love known to any person. It is the love of Christ Jesus who aches that all should know him. If you don’t know Jesus, here’s a funny fact: while he walked on the Earth, he did an awful lot of loving people. He told stories and he healed the sick and he irritated the heck out of the religious authorities. He talked a lot about the Kingdom of God and I don’t recall the condemning parts where he spoke about how wrong everyone was who didn’t fit into rigid boxes.** The last time I checked, Jesus spoke a whole heap of hope over the world.
We like to smugly put ourselves in boxes, don’t we? The best mommy box is this and the worst mommy box is that. Before I became a mother, I am certain I thought this way as well. A few years down the road, I now know this: every family makes it work for themselves. Each family, down to the lunch boxes and sippy cups, creates a balance of making a living/home/school. There is not a perfect way. There is only a perfect love.
If we—and that means me or any preachers out there who have lost touch with the struggles of today’s families—need a reminder of how we should extend that love (it’s called agape) to others, 1 Corinthians 13 gives us a tidy list. Sure, you’ve most likely heard this many times before, but it’s worth looking at the next time you feel pained because you also go to an office while your tot heads off to daycare. Or the next time you clean up spilled milk and wonder how you will stay sane for the next ten hours at home alone with three kids under five.
Take this to the office and the playground: Agape is patient, kind, it rejoices in the truth, it protects, it’s trustworthy, it hopes, it perseveres. Agape does not fail.
Agape does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud, it is not rude or self seeking. It is not easily angered. It keeps no record of wrongs.
God commands us to this love, this agape. It springs from God and it was given human form on this Earth by Jesus. We, too, should extend it to each other. Dear Working Mother, you are not condemned. You are loved!
*There’s actually a book about this very topic, Steven Levy’s The Perfect Thing: How the iPod Shuffles Commerce, Culture, and Coolness.
** This blog post is not a debate about what those boxes are. No matter where you are in the grand parade of motherhood, I would ask you stop for a moment and pray for your sisters who struggle, no matter if they work outside of the house, in the home, or a combination of the both. And in case you missed my meaning, you are now praying for all mothers. Everywhere.