I will always be able to picture his face.
Three years old and staring at me from behind that glass diamond framed within our wooden front door. My hand hovering over the doorknob outside, tears streaming down his little red cheeks.
Just go. I told myself. He’ll calm down in a few minutes. I knew it was true. But staring into that little face that was too quickly losing its toddler plump, every part of me questioned this thing I was doing.
Who writes a book about investing their time in their children, all while sacrificing time with their children to make it happen?
The questions were loud between my ears. The guilt hung heavy.
I buckled myself into the car and drove toward the coffee shop.
Of course what I knew was true. My son quickly calmed down and enjoyed the morning with Daddy, while I enjoyed a latte while pouring words onto the screen.
This has been an ongoing internal struggle over the past three years as my book has gone from idea to published. Around every corner I had to answer these questions for myself. I had to know that I was working for God’s kingdom, following His lead, and that He would make this a beautiful season for our family.
And oh, He has!
Maybe you are asking those same questions today. Maybe your mission, your purpose, your ministry, and your dream are butting up against your call as a mother.
I remember a couple of years ago reading a blog by Joanna Gaines on how she views her life as a working mom. I have never forgotten her words.
“I think at times all moms get this insecure feeling of ‘I’m not doing enough.’ As a working mom, it’s the hardest when my kids grab onto me as I’m walking out the door and say, ‘Mommy please stay home!’ I don’t want to ignore that, so I always explain to them that being with them is my favorite thing in the world. I explain that I have to work just like they have to go to school. I also let them know what I’m doing at work that day—whether it’s filming the show or going into the office—and what time I’ll be home. Taking a few seconds to let them in on this other huge part of my life has really helped them understand that mom and dad have a big job to do.”
I think of this example often as I pursue the work that God has invited me into. I get it wrong—a lot. Far too many times I have hushed my children and told them to go play in the other room as I finish up a task—shutting them out of this beautiful work. But I want so badly for them to see it, this vision. To feel the excitement, and sense the eternal reward. I want them to see God at work.
I glimpse it when I take the time to invite them in. When I stop to explain what I am writing, and who I am writing to. When I talk about the families being encouraged, and people learning about Jesus’ love.
I saw it a few weeks ago. As my six-year-old and I piled some of our favorite books onto the kitchen table. I adjusted and readjusted my cell phone, taping it to the back of a wooden chair to fit both me and my boy on the screen. When I had asked my son that morning over breakfast whether he wanted to help, his eyes lit up. “Yes!” He exclaimed.
Before we began our video, I sat him down. “We are going to tell people what we enjoyed about these books, and what we learned from them.” My nerves were dancing. This was the first time I was shooting a live video with one of my kids, and, well, who knew what could happen? “Oh I know another book to talk about!”. Zeke ran and grabbed his childrens’ Bible to add to our stack.
“It’s important that before we do anything, we pray that God will use our work.” I talked with him about doing work for God, and always making sure that our hearts are wanting to serve people. We prayed, and then I hit record. The next twenty minutes were a blast! Watching my boy make silly faces, talk about the stories he loves, and interact with those watching the video was rewarding. But the best piece was the feeling afterwards, knowing that I had invited him into this work, and that He was seeing a fuller picture of what I do, and why.
It’s not every day that I am this intentional. Many days I am too quick to dig into the work and leave my children behind. But when I do bring them alongside, something incredible happens. They catch a glimpse of the glory of God’s work. They see why the hard work, focus, time and attention are worth it. They get to see God’s kingdom building.
This is when motherhood and mission stop competing for time and energy and resources, and when they begin intertwining. This is when they take shape together into what God always wanted them to be. And it is beautiful.
7 Ways To Invite Your Child Into Your Mission
- Take time to explain who you are serving, and how you are helping them
- Ask them to pray with you over your work
- When they come to you and you’re working on the computer or your phone, stop, turn to them, make eye contact, and listen. Make sure they know they are your priority.
- Give them their own important work. Help them to write encouraging letters to friends and family. Help them to find value in the work they do, by pointing out how it blesses others.
- Give them small tasks they can handle (folding paper, stapling, sorting, joining you in a video, helping carry items into church or the post office, helping gather supplies at the store)
- Invite them into the rewarding fruit of your work. When you are celebrating an accomplishment, smile and tell them about it. Read them encouraging notes you receive. Help them to see the fruit of your labors.
- When you are having a rough day, explain to them (appropriately) the struggles you are facing, and ask to pray with them.