I longed for motherhood for many years before the Lord gave me children. While I waited, I imagined what life would be like. I pictured cheerful, obedient children gathered around my feet as I sailed through laundry, midnight feedings, and naptime routines with a smile on my face.
Years later, I find motherhood to be more exhausting and stretching than I could have imagined. My sin often bubbles to the surface. I’m irritated with the daily laundry mountain, angry with cranky kids, and gripped with fear when I don’t know the answer to my parenting questions. I was so sure I would be good at this, and I often lie awake at night wondering why I’m not. As a Christian, shouldn’t I handle the varied crises of motherhood differently than the culture does? What does Jesus have to do with sinks full of dishes, potty training, or temper tantrums?
A couple of years ago, I stumbled on a podcast that sought to connect the truth of the gospel with motherhood. The opening words both stung and comforted: “Motherhood is hard. One second, we think we’re doing a good-enough job; the next, we feel like the worst mom on the planet. Which is why we need the refreshing truth of the gospel to be repeated over and over again, giving us hope in the everyday moments.”
Does the gospel really reach into the mundane moments of motherhood?
Gospel and Motherhood
In their new book, Risen Motherhood: Gospel Hope for Everyday Moments, the hosts of the Risen Motherhood Podcast not only affirm that the gospel applies to our everyday-mom lives, they also show us how it does. Emily Jensen and Laura Wifler are sisters-in-law with eight children between them. They write and podcast from the trenches, offering gospel hope to moms in every age and stage of parenting.
What does the gospel have to do with birth plans, food choices, bad attitudes, education choices, self-care, health challenges, and body image? The authors assert that the story of Scripture has everything to do with the way we think through all of our parenting challenges, big and small.
Scripture has everything to do with the way we think through all of our parenting challenges, big and small.
We often look to the culture around us—parenting books, online mom groups, and search engines—for the answers to our parenting questions. But when it comes to the heart issues of both our children and ourselves, the world’s responses don’t offer real hope or change. As Jensen and Wifler looked to God’s Word, though, they realized his gospel offers help and transformation like nothing else. “The gospel proved more hopeful than any online article,” they write, “more helpful than any book we could buy, and more sustaining than any quick fix we shared with one another. It was a relief to find that it really is true—the gospel changes everything” (14).
Motherhood Is a Classroom
The authors give a thorough explanation of the gospel, demonstrating how the story arc of Scripture helps us assess our circumstances, confess our sins, look to the work of Christ at the cross, and find comfort in the promise of his return when everything will be made new.
In each chapter, the authors tackle a common parenting struggle by presenting the problem, dismantling the cultural response, and then walking through creation, fall, redemption, and consummation before offering some practical steps of response. Turning the reader to Scripture again and again, the chapters are rich with biblical wisdom. But the real gift of this book is the practice of gospel-centered thinking.
In the classroom of motherhood, we can grow in our understanding of the gospel and the practice of demonstrating it to our children.
As I worked through each chapter, I began to rehearse the gospel in my head. When confronting my preschooler’s disobedience or my angry response, I counseled myself with what Scripture teaches about the deceitfulness of sin, the transforming work of Jesus’s death and resurrection, and the hope that one day we’ll be done with sin altogether. I discovered that I could offer grace more quickly in a parenting crisis when I remembered the grace already given to me in Christ. The repetition of this practice has given me hope for growth in godliness, rather than hope in changed circumstances.
In the classroom of motherhood, we can grow in our understanding of the gospel and the practice of demonstrating it to our children. Every day, every hour—sometimes every minute!—we have new opportunities to parent through the lens of God’s big redemption story. We don’t have to be angry, insecure, fearful, or impatient when our ideals of motherhood come crashing down, since “our trust isn’t in a preferred method—it’s in Jesus” (113).
Motherhood is hard, but God has given us these years to hold tightly to the good news of an always-sufficient Christ and his never-failing Word. We can live out the gospel whether we’re tackling that laundry mountain, chauffeuring our kids around town, wiping bottoms and noses, or counseling a temperamental toddler. The gospel gives us hope for every moment of motherhood.