Friday, October 1, 2010
When motherhood gets too important, this is a bigger problem than we realize.
A Mom’s Identity
As some of you may know, I teach young girls that it is vital that they find their identity in Jesus Christ. The importance of this truth does not diminish as we grow from young girls to middle-aged women.
The Bible teaches us that we need to be careful not to allow family to become too important. Remember the words of Jesus when he said, “If you love your son or daughter more than Me or if you love your mom or dad more than Me, then you are not worthy of Me.” This applied even to Jesus’ own relationship with his mom and brothers. When they came after Jesus, He said, “Who is my mother and my brothers? They are the ones that do the will of my Father.” So Jesus knew and taught from the perspective that as important as family is, it can become too important.
I have seen so many moms lose their identity in mothering. Being a mom is a very important aspect of my life, but it’s NOT WHO I AM. We as moms can become so consumed with our role as mom we lose who we are as a person. When we find our identity in being a mom then motherhood has become too important. I loved everything about being a mom: I loved the terrible twos and the terrifying teens, and the cake in my hair, and the spilled punch. I loved the chaos, the noise, the craziness of tons of kids. It was everything I wanted in my life. I loved that constant overwhelming feeling of someone being completely dependent on me as well as that joyful, awful feeling of watching that same someone just 18 years later leave me and go off into the world on their own.
I recently launched my youngest child to college. If we as moms do not remain a strong identity in Christ as our children are young, we will find that when faced with an empty nest we don’t know what to do with ourselves. If we are not careful, we can allow motherhood to become all-consuming to the point that our marriage suffers, our friendships suffer, and our ministry suffers. What I have found to be true in my own life is when I have balance in my life I am actually a better mom. I understand that pre-schoolers require a ton of your time and energy, but even if it’s just one day a week that you let Dad take over, do it!
When our kids were babies I was noticing that my kids would always come to me for everything they needed. Instead of asking Daddy to tie their shoe or help them, they always came to Mommy. Since I am not co-dependant and did not relate need with love, I had no problem breaking my kids of this habit. The only way for my kids to learn to trust Daddy to meet their needs is if I left for a day so they would have to ask for Daddy’s help. This was one of the best things I did for my family when my kids were toddlers. Not only did Daddy gain a deep appreciation for what I did all week while he was at work, it also provided me with a much-needed break. Saturday was my day to go to the beach, go to the mall, go out and spend time with friends; I always made sure that I had hobbies or interests outside the hobbies and interests of my kids. I hosted a scrapbooking club that met at my house on Fridays called “Crop til ya Drop”. I would go on weekend trips with friends. If you are not intentional about doing things that cultivate who you are as a person you can easily lose who YOU are. Our kids do need us to be invested in them emotionally, spiritually, mentally, but we need to be careful that we stay balanced, so that raising our kids does not become our whole identity. For the past three years I have been teaching young girls that their identity must be in Christ alone, because if your identity is in Christ, you can depend on it for your whole life. It’s the only thing in life that is unchangeable. If your identity is in your kids, then when they move out so does your identity. Neither can your identity be tied up in being a wife. Marriage changes as well. Everything in life will change, but God never changes. When we as moms have our identity in an unchanging God, we can still feel secure and solid when our roles as mothers change.
So what are some red flags to look for if your kids are your identity? When your kids become your identity, you tend to be a much more critical parent because you take on their failures as if your own, because you believe that your children’s lives are wrapped around you. We tend to over-react to our kids imperfections and failures. It’s important to ask the Holy Spirit to help you separate your ACTIONS from your MOTIVES. Your ACTIONS are WHAT you do, your MOTIVES are WHY you do them. We are very complex beings and no one can sort out the motives of their heart without the help of the Holy Spirit. Why does it bother us so much when our kids fail or make poor choices? When you allow your children’s behavior to define you, you are in a very dangerous place. Honestly your children’s behaviors change with the wind and they are going to make mistakes. They are going to do foolish things. They are going to make wrong choices and none of that defines you. It’s vital to keep in mind that your teenagers have a free will and after age 18 they will have to live with the choices they make – good or bad. Your job as a parent is to work yourself out of a job.
Balance is the key. That balance is finding your identity in Christ which will never change, even though your mothering responsibilities will change over the years. It’s important to be a well-rounded person and know what you like and what you don’t like. Know the passions of your heart. The passions of my heart are: Teens, Truth, Teaching and Evangelism. Throughout all the days of my kids’ lives, I never lost sight of those passions. Even before my kids were old enough to be in youth, I was working with teenagers. I was asked to come work as a counselor in a youth camp when my youngest son was still breast-feeding. I told the youth pastor that if I came I would have to bring my son with me since he was still breast-feeding. The pastor allowed me and my son to come to the camp. I could have easily told the youth pastor no, but I didn’t because teenagers were a passion of my heart. It’s important to learn the passions of your heart and look for ways that you can apply those passions.
Another red flag that your identity might be in your kids is if when it comes time for your kids go away to school, or move out and become their own person, you are still trying to hang on with phone calls, constant Facebook messages or text messages. Another red flag is if the romance has left your marriage then your kids have become too important to you. Another way to know that you are over investing in your kids is if you look around and you have no friends. Or when a friend calls you to go out to lunch and your first thought is, “I don’t have time.” I am part of a group called “Seasoned Sisters” http://www.seasonedsisters.com/. I love this ministry because it provides the healthy balance that we moms need to keep us from losing ourselves in being a mom and wife. We don’t all of a sudden lose our identity, it happens slowly over time. Don’t allow family to become your religion. So do yourself and your kids a favor – get a life outside of your kids and be intentional about living a balanced life.