Work out your salvation with fear and trembling. This verse hit me while I was making toast. My morning was not going how I envisioned. It was neither good nor bad, just different. I was having to think on the fly to accommodate for the changes in routine.
And I don’t always like to think on the fly. I work hard to create patterns that are healthy for my family so that I minimize the amount of decisions required of me. Too much mental work. And while I think it’s wise and good to order my days, it also reveals a bit of a wrong motive if I’m not careful – the one that tries to avoid pain and trials at all cost.
Another mom used to say to her kids when they all clamored for her attention at once, “I’m just one mommy.” And I loved that. Such a simple yet helpful reality check. Saying both I’m doing what I can, and I can’t do it all in one statement.
So while buttering the toast and dealing with a child who is making me think too hard, I remembered work out your salvation.
I find myself in need of salvation. In need of a rescuer. And pride sometimes deceives me into thinking that I can be my own savior, or at least the savior of my kids.
But as a mother, God has divinely allowed me to shepherd little people with souls, passions, and sinful natures. He has ordained that this work, the everyday trials, points me back to Him. The more broken our day, the more I need to look to Him to save me.
When I try to save myself it looks like ignoring the test of a child who wakes up with his or her own bee in their bonnet by looking on Instagram for 10 minutes longer than usual.
And in that time I’ve said, I won’t rise to this test. I don’t want to honor You in this moment. I am going to take my break from this child when and how I want to.
I refuse to be made to grow up alongside them.
Granted, the test may truly be small. A difficult attitude toward breakfast, a strong will while getting dressed, or another mess! Let’s face it, with little kids messes – the making and the cleaning – take up a sizable portion of my day.
When I try to save myself, the focus is on my behavior. Keeping it together. But the value in these tests isn’t my behavior. It’s in what they point to as my savior. Big “S” Savior or little “s” saviors.
Little “s” saviors may be Instagram, Facebook, email, a blog (ahem), turning on PBS for them, cleaning, organizing, and even following a routine. All of these offer momentary relief from painful parts of everyday life.
Now I believe routine, order, and organization are all healthy and wise! And finding relief in normal everyday things is fine. Taking the time to consider and plan for the health and happiness of the family is being responsible. It is right and good to be a careful manager of the home.
Life cannot be scheduled and organized to fit inside the box. Kids do not fit inside a box. There are surprises. People – get ready for a shocker – have feelings! No matter how small the size of a person, they don’t always want to do the plan. And I believe that all these little hiccups, whether minor or major, are a small piece of the greater puzzle – the big test of life for the mother.
God has designed motherhood to be painfully rewarding. Starting with childbirth! And if I believe Satan’s lies that life should be getting easier and easier, and I deserve for everything to be serving me, or it’s only fair for me to be happy at least most of the time then I will rebel against the tests that God has sent to mature me and allow me to fully rest in His salvation. In rebellion, I will cling to what I want to be saved by – stuff, status, silence, self – and I will completely miss the greater rewards.
What are the greater rewards? And why should I try so hard anyway?