Raising children is not an easy task - it is not a job for the weak-hearted. Parenting is hard, and it is discouraging. Especially at this moment in time with so many details of our lives being shared on social media, we as mothers are always comparing ourselves to other women.
That is what we do as women. We’ve always done it. The women that came before us did it, but instead of looking at photos on Instagram, they compared clothes at church and read about other women in magazines. Social media has only made it easier and plays a huge role in our misconceptions of motherhood and family.
We compare ourselves to other women and always seem to come up short. I find myself wishing that my family was like those I see on Facebook. So, on Facebook, we only post the best pictures of ourselves, kids, husband, and family.
Why as women do we portray these fake images of ourselves and our family?
I don’t want people to think I’m perfect – that leaves no room for Jesus. I’m flawed. My family is flawed.
In the past few months, this really started to bother me - I want my insides to match my outsides. I did not want to make other women feel less than me.
This past summer, I was at the park with my two young boys and began talking to another mother as she watched her son play. It was the usual small talk: How old are your kids? What do you do for a living? What does your husband do?
I answered her questions the way I usually do, but I felt like I was painting this untrue picture of my family. Suddenly, I blurted out:
“Listen, I just want you to know that I am a recovering alcoholic and meth addict. I was married previously and divorced. I had two kids with my ex-husband, and I’m only allowed to see them in the summer and at Christmas because of my selfish ways. I became a meth addict with my current husband. We went to jail, robbed a drug dealer, and now have two children together. We are in ministry, but I feel sad and worried when good things happen to us. I snap at my kids and husband regularly, and I have rage right beneath the surface… Anyway, I wanted to let you know this.”
The poor women looked at me like a deer in the headlights, and I worried that she was going to grab her child and run away screaming. Instead, tears began to stream down her cheeks, and she opened up to me about her struggles. That crazy moment at the park with a stranger made me think: I must not be the only one that thinks wifedom, motherhood, and sober life are really hard.
I had been struggling to figure out where I fit into Lutheran Indian Ministries. I was used to working, but now, I feel blessed to be able to stay home with our children. My day consisted of changing diapers, cleaning house, washing laundry, cooking, and acting as my husband’s secretary. For a long time, I felt in my heart that God had so much more for me. That moment of incredible honesty in the park, and the connection that came from it, made me realize I was missing my calling. It was right in front of me the entire time. I am exactly where God wants me to be, doing exactly what He wants me to do to impact His Kingdom.
I have two small children with the full-time task of raising them to be godly men. The thing is, I am not able to do that by lying to myself, and the world, about this false perfection I had persuaded myself into believing. In that moment, when I listened to the Holy Spirit and spoke the truth to the woman in the park, God opened my eyes to His plan and purpose for my life. Through this, I gained the ability to open up about my past struggles and, maybe more importantly, my current struggles. I am done hiding my flaws.
My new ministry was to tell people the truth about my insides. No more mask, no more hiding, and no more pretending. I shed all of my false perceptions of what I thought I should be, and I embraced the way that God sees me.
I was under the impression that since my husband and I were in ministry, we would become like the people we had witnessed in ministry: selfless. I would be the calm preacher’s wife: gentle and soft-spoken, children sitting nicely in a pew with their heads bowed quietly in prayer. I was determined to become June Cleaver from Leave it to Beaver.
But this is unrealistic and overwhelmingly stressful! With this vision of perfection, I was never going to be able to minister to anyone - including myself.
Instead, the moment I confessed the truth about myself and my struggles as a wife and mother, God opened up a huge door. I took a deep breath and stepped through.
My husband, Bob, and I do Native Ministry, but I’m not Native. It has been a challenge for me to find my place within the Native community. I have found with my new found freedom of sharing my brokenness, either the other person will appreciate my candor and want to tell their story or they will walk away. I’m learning to be okay with the second group and have come to understand that they weren’t ready for me and my story. The last thing I want to do is push them further from the Love of God. But most of the time, other mothers are willing to open up to me.
Through this transition into my “new self,” I also realized that my children were a good way to connect with other mothers going through similar struggles. God gave us this blessed gift of raising children, but He knew it would not be an easy task and that we would need other women to help carry our burdens and our triumphs.
1 Timothy says,” Women will be saved through childbearing – if they continue in faith, love, and holiness with propriety.” (1 Timothy 2:15)
He’s not saying we are saved from sin by having children, only Jesus can do that for us, but we have been delivered from the stigma of having caused the Fall of the race through the blessing of motherhood. The first woman may have caused us to fall by stepping out of the God-intended design, but through it, we were then given the responsibility of raising a godly seed. God has given us the privilege of leading the race out of sin to godliness. Raising godly children is a virtue of a mother that has the greatest impact on young lives and the next generation. Now, I’m not saying God wants all women to be mothers, but those of us who find ourselves in that role, take note.
Eve may have caused a generation to plunge into sin, but by being a mother who raises godly children, we are able to bring the next generation to God.
And, we as broken women only can raise godly children once we admit to our own brokenness and need for a Savior. So that is what I do, I walk alongside other broken women. We draw wisdom from one another and from God, to raise the next generation of godly, but broken, children, who understand that their healing and strength only comes from the Lord, and the only way to truly live is to be open with one another.
Now, I finally understand where I fit into Lutheran Indian Ministries. I play an important role in raising godly Native American children, who will one day grow into leaders that will minister to their people. I have the opportunity to walk alongside other mothers, sharing Jesus, the One who can make the greatest impact on their lives, with them, their young children, and the next generation.
Godly Christian women will raise the next generation, and I’m excited to be a part of that crowd.
-Deon Prue, Oneida, Wisconsin