For today’s meditation, we’ll be discussing the call to lay down our lives. This is for mamas who feel like they give more than they receive. Have you felt that way lately? If so, read on.
Do you ever find yourself “keeping score” with how much parenting you’ve done versus how much your spouse has done?
I put them to bed three nights in a row… When is he going to do it?
When was the last time HE gave the “discipline talk”?
I cooked dinner AND did the dishes, so he needs to put them both to bed.
We spent all day doing what he wanted to do, so it’s my turn tomorrow.
Can any of you relate to this?
Let me just start by saying that “keeping score” is an exercise in futility and can be destructive to our partnership with our spouses. First of all, we will never know exactly how much our spouses do or don’t do – just like they don’t see the million little things we do for our families, we also don’t see those small, daily, hidden actions and decisions they make on behalf of our families. Let’s remember that.
Secondly, and more importantly, this quality simply isn’t Christlike. Can you imagine Jesus saying these types of things? No way. He said things like, “I came to serve rather than to be served (Matthew 20:28)” and “I am among you as one who serves (Luke 22:27).” After years of servitude, He ended His ministry by washing His disciples feet and then dying on the Cross. Jesus sets an example for us as one who cared more about serving others than about what He was receiving in return.
Even in the most balanced, functional homes there will be times when one parent (or two!) feels under-appreciated or overworked. Here’s a few things to keep in mind when this happens:
1. God understands, even better than we do, what it’s like to give more than we receive.
Who is the most overworked, under-appreciated parent in the entire universe? God. He literally gave up His own self for us, sacrificed His body, laid down His most prized possession, gave up the riches of Heaven. He came to a world that He created, and that world didn’t even recognize Him.
Can you imagine if your child woke up tomorrow and didn’t recognize you as their parent? How bizarre and devastating would that be? And yet that’s what Jesus experienced on a much grander scale.
When you feel like you’re laying down your life and no one seems to care, remember Jesus. When you feel like you have nothing left to give and you’re done giving more than you receive, remember our Savior.
By this we know what love is: Jesus laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.1 John 3:16
2. Lay down our lives.
Look, mamas, this one’s hard, but we’re called to lay down our lives for each other. And that certainly includes our spouses and children. It’s not easy, and there are days when I want to throw up my hands and say, “It’s time for someone to lay down their life for me!” And then I hear Jesus’s voice saying to me, “I did, my sweet daughter. I laid down my life and now I want you to do the same.” The reality is that I can lay down my life because Jesus laid down His life. Without Jesus’s example, I would have no motivation, no power, no reason to give of myself so completely. But I do have His incredible example, and because of His precious body broken for me, I can keep giving even when it feels like I can’t.
3. Take time for yourself.
It is clear in the scriptures that we’re supposed to lay down our lives – but Jesus also gives the example of getting away (Matthew 15:39), resting (Mark 4:35-40, Mark 6:30-32), and taking time by himself (Luke 5:16, Matthew 14:13). This is important, mamas. Please take care of yourself.
Think about the last time you were on an airplane and the flight attendants gave the obligatory safety talk. Remember what they said about putting on your own oxygen mask before assisting anyone else? Do you know why they tell you to do that? Because if you try to help the person next to you before you help yourself, you could end up passing out (no oxygen = no breathing!) and not be able to help anyone.
Don’t “pass out” on your family because you’re trying to be a hero. Yes, we’re called to lay down our lives, but let’s do it in a responsible, measured way. God created our bodies with limits and boundaries – so listening to your body is actually a way of listening to God. So if your body is telling you to rest, please listen.
To read more about this, check out this article on Self-Care for Moms.
Love does not keep a record of wrongs.1 Corinthians 13:5
4. Remember the good.
If you’re frustrated with your spouse because they’re not “stepping up” when you need it, or they neglected to switch the laundry, take out the trash or left the diaper bag in the car yet again – choose to remember the good. Fix your thoughts on the positive qualities in your spouse: their faithfulness, their joy in the face of hardship, their ability to think quickly in high-pressure situations or how hard they work to take care of your family. If you’re struggling with critical thoughts about your spouse, read this post.
When your child is ungrateful and snubs you despite all of your hard work for the family, remember the good. Remember his sweet kisses. Remember her generosity. Remember yesterday when the kids got along for half a second. Remember how you prayed for them to be born, and now they’re here! Remember the good.
And, of course, let’s remember what Jesus has done for us. Let that motivate us and invigorate us to keep serving our families. Today I pray that we can be followers of Christ who lay down our lives for the people around us. I pray for strength from the God who rose Jesus from the dead so that we can live for Him.