Mothers were created to be vessels of God’s love and we are not loving our children when we are worrying about them or doubting their circumstances nor fearful of their choices. As I was crafting my talk about finding your purpose to 50 young mothers of preschoolers, one point kept coming up that I had to share…. Love is not worry, doubt or fear. We are loving them when we show appreciation through kindness and patience and respect. This took me years to understand and likely will take me a lifetime to perfect but our purpose as mothers is to love our children, not to worry about them.
I have a purpose as a mother and I have a purpose as an individual but they are deeply intertwined. My own individual purpose in life was revealed to me when I was in these young mother’s stage of life yet it has taken me almost 20 years to act on it. God assigned me the task to open the minds of mothers to think of what would Mother Mary do when they are parenting -to parent our children as Mary parented Christ as precious sons and daughters of God. That task has expanded the more I learn about how Mother Mary is not only a great example for us all in parenting but also in following your purpose.
When I think about Mother Mary, part of what makes her so relatable was she was so close to God in body, mind and spirit and yet she was human just like me. She wasn’t all knowing or all powerful. While she was alive, she didn’t perform any miracles that we know of or at least ones that the men of those days thought was biblical worthy. But when I think of all she went through – being an unwed mother, having no place to birth her child, being a refugee, losing her son for three days, and then having to see her son tortured, tried and crucified – I think it was a bit of a miracle that she still had faith, hope and a deep love in God. I want that kind of relationship with God – one that is perfected in love so that I have no fear and I want my children to have that same relationship too. So what would Mother Mary do?
Knowing our purpose does amazing things to our hearts. It gives us strength and courage and determination to make it through the toughest of times. But being human, she couldn’t have always been perfect in love. How did she keep her fears and doubt from infiltrating Jesus’s heart?
As a mother I always thought part of my job was to worry about my kids. Are they eating enough, exercising enough, do they have enough friends? Are they performing at grade level, are their motor skills up to par, do they know and understand how to pray? There are no less than about 10 different things on any given day about each of my kids that I would worry about. And while I thought I was being loving by trying to take care of each of those issues, I was not loving, I was worrying and that is very different.
My purpose as a mother is to love my children and worry and doubt and fear keep me from loving their fullest potential. Do you feel more loved when someone doubts in your abilities or trusts them?
When I am loving, I am kind and I do not judge.
When I am loving, I am patient and know my children will develop all the skills within them in their own time.
That doesn’t mean I won’t do whatever I can to help their development – when they were little I read books to them and colored with them and we cut up paper for fun so they could use scissors. I pray with them and take them for walks and find things to do that support their school work. Now that they are older I give them books to read, and encourage them in the arts, and take them to soccer practice and help them fill out college applications. High expectations with patience for them to get there is a difficult balance. But when I worry about them, I am not loving them. When I have doubt or fears about them, I am not loving them.
I am loving my child when I am not irritable or resentful for the things that my child does or asks me to do.
I am loving my child when I show them the same respect I would ask of them.
I am loving my child when I do not dishonor them by yelling or spanking or humiliating them by pointing out their faults.
I am loving my child when I let them follow their heart with their choices.
I am loving my child when I don’t keep record of their “wrong doings” and consider it a blessing they are making mistakes to learn from.
I am loving my child when I have high expectations of all they can be yet do not pressure them for my own pride or theirs.
A parent once had a conversation with me about how love sometimes involves teaching our kids a lesson as in “spare the rod and spoil the child” might imply. But I think of how Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me” and how as a product of spankings how the physical pain did not teach me fear of my behavior as much as it taught me to fear the person handing out the punishment.
I can’t ever imagine Jesus striking a child for if he did, the little children would not feel safe to come to him. I can’t ever imagine Mother Mary striking Jesus for she believed in being a channel of peace. And I am further supported by the verse:
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18.
Choose love in your heart, not fear, when teaching a lesson.
Imagine if we all put our worry aside, and kept doubt and fear from entering our hearts. What kind of world might it be? We would be living on earth as it is in heaven.
I am still perfecting the mind frame that my worry is not love because worry seems to be my “go to” reaction for most things. I know that what I put my energy into, only gets stronger and I’d prefer my children to know my love for them is stronger than my fears. I am certain that is what Mother Mary would do.
May God bless all mothers to love our children as Mother Mary loved Jesus.