“What do you do when you are so weary, you feel like you can’t get through the day? I feel like I try to juggle the expectations of church ministry with that of my family, and it isn’t working. I’m tired, resentful, and bitter. I just want to be a mom and a wife. I feel like crying a lot these days. I try to tell myself it is okay to “just be a mom and a wife” but I feel like to I have to be superwoman as one of the female leaders of our church, where not many people do many things. I’ve recently given up being the coordinator of our church nursery (after doing it for over five years), but no one has stepped in to fill the role and I feel guilty (should I have stayed since no one stepped up? that’s what i keep thinking!). I homeschool (I have 5 children, 7 and under, including twins). that takes up so much time, there’s not much time for anything else. I get up early, stay up way too late, and am still just spinning my wheels. HELP! I read your blog almost daily for encouragement and thank you. I thought maybe you would have personal encouragement for where I find myself now. “
My initial response to a letter like this is, “I think you know why you feel overwhelmed, you just need the reassurance to do what your instincts tell you.”
But I also want to unpack that a little bit, because quite frankly, it discourages me that the church is often one of the most competing forces against the family, weakening it instead of strengthening it.
I don’t want to delve into to the pros and cons of church programs, but as much as I tried to avoid that, the connections just beg to be considered. There is a reason this reader, and many women feel guilty or compelled to overextend themselves. We have to solve that problem before we can adequately solve the question of “can I just be a wife and mother?”
Church programs are sometimes good, sometimes necessary and sometimes not at all and only create more problems. Sometimes they mimic what the state has done so well: taking over areas that belong to parents, though well-intentioned, making it easier for parents to abdicate responsibility and more difficult to see the harm in doing so.
Since the nursery was mentioned, walk with me through some thoughts:
Forget for a minute the typical nursery argument, “But what about visitors?” Because that question opens up a whole new subject that will find its own solutions when the body operates biblically!
For now, we’re assuming the church is a place where, like the early church, followers of Christ meet together for worship and fellowship.
What if the church was again simply a place of worship, rest and refreshment for the whole family?
What if families spent time with families in their homes, in a more organic environment where child-training tips were passed along and there wasn’t a need for a nursery?
What if because there wasn’t a nursery parents had no choice but to actually teach them to stay in service as they once did?
What if children were reunited into the body of Christ, truly demonstrating the oneness of which Scripture speaks? Soaking up the beauty and significance of fathers, mothers and children united in the most important event of the week?
And what if now we don’t have to elect nursery coordinators and workers (or make them feel guilty) so that they, too, can be a unified part of the body, resting on the Sabbath AND being refreshed for the upcoming tasks of the week?
Multiply this concept across other areas to see if it fits.
I said all that not to argue the case for a nursery, per se, but to see how often we can create problems in our attempts to fix them.
The answer to this reader’s question is simple:
She has accepted the diminished significance of the role of motherhood. She has bought into the idea that it’s not enough to raise warriors for Christ, it’s not enough to minister to “the least of these”, it’s not enough to walk alongside these people that are the very heritage of God and disciple them, it’s not enough to give her life for the family that is her first priority.
I told this dear woman to lay aside every possible extra activity in her life right now except for her duties at home. She is at the height of her calling, her hands are indeed full, and she is responsible first to her family. That is the best work she can do.
Does that mean she can’t minister in any other capacity? Certainly not! But she is free to guard her time and energy carefully, and not feel guilty about making commitments that may prove too taxing, but she feels she can’t relinquish. She is free to minister in a way that includes her family and allows her to work around them. (Raising children, helping a husband and hospitality are the three specific ministries the Bible emphasizes for women. A widow, in fact, was not to be considered for “the list” if she had neglected these duties.)
I feel so badly that she had to come to my blog and ask me, a mere stranger, to tell her the things she knows in her heart to be true.
Would you tell another mother today that she isn’t obligated to be a superwoman? Tell her that building her home is Kingdom work and it is adequate.
Get my powerful, life-changing devotional, When Motherhood Feels Too Hard if you need your batteries supercharged!