Although I’ve already discussed some of what has been on my mind and heart that led me to read this book, I want to come back and express my thoughts on the book as a whole, especially since I know that many of my readers are at a similar place in life as I am and might find this book refreshing to their spirits.
As I was finishing A Mother’s Heart, this word picture from the book of Proverbs came to mind:
A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.
Jean Fleming‘s encouragement in this book has been just that for me: words “fitly spoken” into my life at just the right time. Nothing that she says in this book is new or different or groundbreaking; instead, the value of her message is in the fact that it is time-tested. Motherhood is tough; no one would deny it, at least no one who knows anything at all about it. Fleming’s gentle words in this book helped me to see the meaning under all the work: that what I’m doing here really does matter, and I’m the best person to do it. Yes, someone else could do it, but to believe that someone else should do it or would do it better is to believe a lie.
I think the best way for me to respond to this book is to simply share some excerpts that really spoke to me–the ones that “hit me right between the eyes”:
I must constantly remind myself that though the visible, tangible world is so insistent and clamorous in its demands, I must not let it badger me into spending my life unwisely. The result of living by God’s value system isn’t immediately apparent like clean windows or a newly papered wall. But years from now, by God’s grace, my time with God and my children will produce results brighter than sparkling windows. I must take the long view. I must choose to do those things which will give satisfaction as I view my life as a whole, rather than measure satisfaction at the end of each day. (50)
Well, you already know how I feel about clean windows. (Sorry! I couldn’t resist. 🙂 )
Almost every Christian parent wants to have their children honor God as they mature. But we may expect the product without being willing to involve ourselves in the process. Do we value our children enough to pay the price? (56)
I really need to remember this one, especially when I am disciplining one of the girls over a repeated infraction. Yes, it gets tiresome and difficult, but it actually does mean something.
Lila Trotman, widow of the founder of The Navigators, once said to my husband, “Roger, always remember that God is your only circumstance.” God towers above our circumstances. He wants to use the difficult aspects of our lives for our good. “In all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
Whether the difficult cirumstances we face are from God’s hand or because of our own poor choices, He is able to produce from them something positive and glorifying to Himself.
The apostle Paul had problems–physical illness, beatings, imprisonments, stonings, hunger, and more (2 Corinthians 11:23-28). But whatever the circumstance, Paul strove to know Christ and to make Him known.
God did not allow these circumstances in order to frustrate Paul’s desire to experience Christ more fully, or to stifle the progres of the gospel. Instead, God intended them to form boundaries for Paul’s life. Paul did not kick down these boundaries so that he might get on with the job as he saw it. Rather, he accepted the boundaries and worked within them. He sang and praised God from a gloomy prison, used appearances abefore questioning officials to testify of his faith in Christ, gathered firewood and encouraged others after a shipwreck, and worked with his hands making tents amid a busy missionary schedule.
God has set boundaries around your life, too. Your children form part of the boundaries. But remember, God brings the circumstances to better define your life, not to restrict it. (179-80)
Thinking about these “boundaries” put in place by God made me think of this excellent book. Reading these paragraphs also made me realize something about my life: I am willingly making the choice to be what I am, a mother who works full-time in my home. But sometimes I feel affronted by the idea that my life should be more–that I shouldn’t be content with what I’ve chosen. It seems like everyone, from Christian psychologists to the media to the girls I went to high school with, offer the refrain that we should be careful not to “lose ourselves” in motherhood. I like how Fleming paints the picture–that God has put these boundaries in our lives; they’re there of His choosing. Why shouldn’t I be content in this role?
To live by faith is to live with tensions, with blurred lines and with an uncomfortable lack of definition, because God wants us to look to Him for wisdom, strength, and direction as we parent our children and live our lives. (194)
Ah, that’s it, isn’t it? The answer to my questions of “Does the tension ever get easier?” and “How does one come to a place of true contentment with what she has chosen?” It’s all about commiting my way to God and walking in faith. What else can I do?
Well, that’s not much of a review, is it? I’m still thinking about all of this stuff–mulling it over in my brain. The Lord has been speaking to me lately about my “job” through my perceptive and loving mother-in-law and my pastor’s recent sermons, as well as this book, and I feel fairly certain that all of this will yield yet another blog post in the next few weeks. Stay tuned. 🙂