Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Grace to Grow


We spend a lot of time as mothers thinking about growth in terms of our children. How tall they are getting. The new skill she learned. The temptation he is struggling to overcome. We spend our days shaping, encouraging, disciplining—training these rowdy saplings of ours into forms of strength and beauty.

But we need to grow, too.

Sure, we know that. As Christians, we know too well that this life is a journey, often an arduous one at that, and often the greatest challenge we face is the challenge to let ourselves be changed.

We know that motherhood changes us. In fact, never have I felt on such a highway in this journey of life. A highway where there is no speed limit and a whole lot of pitfalls. And God keeps beckoning, switching on the streetlight just ahead. Then, the next. The next. Calling me forward, spurring me on to follow Him and to be better than I’ve been. Sometimes I balk at being expected to go so fast. I grumble at the pitfalls. And I definitely don’t like being able to see only one streetlamp ahead.

In her powerfully petite book Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches, Rachel Jankovic speaks to the mothers who, like me, tend to resist this kind of growth:

“I have heard more than one mother [of little girls] try to head off growth like this at the pass. Announcing to whoever wants to listen that they don’t ‘do’ hair. That they hate to shop. That this girly thing is way out of their league. Essentially what they are saying is that they are afraid of the new territory that God set before them. If this sounds familiar to you, you are going to need to get over it.”

Don’t get me wrong, I love to do hair. I love shopping. I’m as girly as the next girly girl.

What I “wasn’t” was a “preschool person.”

I didn’t “do” crafts. Pipe cleaners and popsicle sticks and pompoms were not things I kept in my house. And glitter? Definitely no glitter. I’m not fond of playgrounds or particularly enamored with playdates. I’m a homebody. A homebody who likes quiet. And uninterrupted periods of reading and solitude. Needless to say, little preschool people do not fit so well with the me I had convinced myself I was.

So, God sent me preschoolers. To teach me that I was more than I had thought.

Slowly, sometimes grudgingly, I have learned to grow. Sometimes it hurts. I have complained and fought back, but He is patient. And now I often laugh looking back on the woman I was. The one I am now is so much better than what I’d fought so hard to stay! I’m growing in trust, too, and I am looking forward to seeing how much more I can be changed in these few, precious preschooler years.

If the thought of all this growth sounds intimidating, remember that it’s not you who are responsible for this change. Your only responsibility is to remain open to the work of the Spirit and to seek Him with your whole heart.

“So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.” – 1 Cornithians 3:7

And thank the Lord for that!


  1. I love this post for so many reasons. Welcome to motherhood!

  2. I am 56 and a new grandmother and I loved this post!

  3. Dear Bethany, I'm a lot like you - I feel most comfortable on a quiet day with a lot of uninterrupted reading time (with a baby and an almost-preschooler around here, this isn't going to happen often!). And today, I'm hosting 25 people - all my husband's family, people I love and anticipate the pleasure of seeing, even if it means stretching myself a bit over my usual boundaries of "quiet" parties.

    Which brings me to the point - what am I doing in front of the computer? I'd better get moving! :P


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