This transcript has been edited for clarity.
Laura: Hello. Welcome to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I am Laura Wifler, and I have my sister-in-law Emily here with me.
Laura: Okay, today we’re talking about the vulnerable mom. Emily and I came into the show with a decent amount of trepidation, and also wanting to be careful and gentle and treat this as carefully as we can, because we know that both of us have a lot of support, even in our most weak moments.
We have a lot of family and friends and church support around us. We have financial resources, flexibility in our schedules, we have educational opportunities, and husbands that are really supportive. Emily and I both know that it’s very easy to take those things for granted and forget what a privilege those things are, and how God has provided for us.
Something that we've noticed as Risen Motherhood has grown and we've had more and more moms interacting with our content is we've seen a lot of different sides to motherhood. God’s been really gracious to make our hearts tender towards moms that have different lives than us, have different upbringings, and are struggling and in vulnerable places.
We want to talk about this this year with our “unity in the gospel” theme because we know that God cares for the outcast, the oppressed, for the struggling. He also desires for his people to love and to see those people too, and to give them dignity, grace, compassion, and help.
Therefore we want to take time on today’s show to talk through who the vulnerable mom is. Like who we might be talking about, how we as listeners, especially if you're in a position that's similar to what Emily and I are in, can live out God’s call and his charge, meeting these women where they're at. What can we do? That's the question Em and I have been asking.
Emily: I feel, like Laura was saying, we need to start by defining it because people have different ideas of what “vulnerable mom” means. And they may all be right definitions, and for this, there's nothing official. We’re defining this as a mom who is in need of maybe special care or support or protection because of maybe age or different disabilities, risk of abuse or neglect, or things in her past. We’re going to talk through what this may look like.
Although there are other definitions of this, we’re particularly thinking about the mom who is single with kids, the mom who's living from paycheck to paycheck whether she's married or unmarried. Maybe a mom who's living in a dangerous situation with a boyfriend or a husband or a family member. Maybe a mom who just doesn’t have the education, the resources, or the opportunities to care for her kids in the way that she really wants to.
Maybe this is a mom who has struggled through a past history of abuse, mental illness, or other life trauma that makes motherhood and work extra difficult. This could be a mom who is a widow or a mom who is a minority, or has emigrated from another country, or is a refugee. We have all kinds of women who fit into this category.
Laura: We want to be upfront—and I know I started to profess this show a little bit—we’re not experts in this. There are people out there that specialize in understanding things like mental health, or poverty, or social work, or shelters. All sorts of things.
Therefore we’re not able to give that kind of perspective today. We’re just two moms who want to be able to talk with you at the same table with you—peer to peer, speaking with you. Our hope, therefore, is to speak to those of you who are hopefully plugged in to a local church, and you are financially stable. But oftentimes, like us, you're busy with your life and you're overwhelmed with what's going on right in front of you.
It’s hard to know how to help these women or keep them at the forefront, but we want to ask the question, what if we did? What would happen if we use the gospel to bridge the gap with women like this?
Emily: Again, trying to hone in on what it is we’re going to be talking about in this show versus what we’re not talking about: there are a lot of ways to deal with this problem on a political front in your community. There are questions like, “Well, should our family get involved in foster care, or different types of organizations that help women in these situations? How should I give financially, or of my time?” We hope that you get ideas about practical things that you can do. But primarily we’re going to be starting at, “How does the gospel change us at a heart level, so that we can shift our eyes off of ourselves and remember and see these moms and care about them even in the midst of our own busyness?” Another thing we wanted to say is, again, we want to really tread lightly here. We know that sometimes when people have a heart to help someone who is vulnerable, it can sound very superior, very privileged and very, “Oh, we have the tools. We can help you. We can save you. We have it altogether.” This is a touchy conversation to navigate.
We will not do it perfectly, and we’ll probably say something offensive and not even know it. But we hope that you guys can engage this with us because we want to try. Too many of us, and in my past I’d say I’d have avoided this conversation, are afraid to say something wrong.
Laura: Me too.
Emily: Anyways, we’re going to try to set some of those self-conscious feelings aside and just say, we want to see this issue. We want to care in our heart today, even if we say something that we haven’t learned how to say it correctly yet. Our heart is to love these women and not to heap shame on them.
Laura: We’re thankful that we can talk to a community that does love us. We have had so many emails from listeners who have written in, who have either lovingly corrected us, who have supported us whenever we have done things like this where we kind of stepped out of our comfort zone, and you guys have cheered us on.
I am not asking for that today, but I am just saying that this community is much of why Emily and I want to have this conversation because we feel you guys have created a safe space. But also because you've taught us so much yourselves through your stories, your emails, and messages and just different things, so we just want to thank you.
But to dive in, we’re going to start with the gospel because that's what we typically do, and give that a high level overview. And then we’re also going to talk about some things Em and I are learning in. When we look at creation, we can start there and know that Eden was pretty wonderful. Adam and Eve had all their needs met by God, and there wasn’t pain or sorrow or tears or anything that wasn’t wonderful.
After the fall, after Adam and Eve ate the fruit, the world changed quite a bit. They became people who were vulnerable and struggling because of whether creation was cursed, and things just don’t go as they should. Also because of the deeds of man and the evil sin in this world; so now we grapple in that tension. But we have hope in Christ in the midst of all of that.
Emily: We see God’s heart for the vulnerable, because God has a heart for sinners and a heart for people who are in desperate need and can do nothing for themselves on their own. In the Old Testament, we see God protecting them and caring for them, especially women.
Even in Jesus’ lineage, we see a good handful of women that come from a lifestyle or a background that most of us would say, “That's a vulnerable mom.” This is a complicated topic. Laura and I were going into examples of like, “Oh, what are some good ways we could share this in the Old Testament? What are some good stories?”
Everything we came up with made us realize this usually takes a lot of sober study and deep thought, and the people who have done this well have really dug in deep here. So if this is something you're wanting to know more about, we’re going to put some links in our show notes from women who have really dug into this topic and have done a good job of showing how God really cares for the vulnerable woman throughout redemptive history.
Laura: It’s one of those things that we get it; the Old Testament confuses us too [laughter] and the fact that some of the things that happened to women in the Old Testament do seem confusing at face value. But when you look at the Bible in context, and when you study these things as Emily said, in a sober mindse, and in a way that says, “I want to learn. I don’t want to bring in my own assumptions, or my own biases, or just assume I know what's right. I want to come and know the heart of God.”
We promise that God will reveal to you his love and kindness and his mercy in some of those stories. At least I personally have often really struggled with and tried to figure out, “How does God value women? Show me that when I read the story.” But it’s true, and it’s there, and so yes, we’re going to point you to some really good resources for that because we don’t have the time or probably really the know-how to do that for you here.
Emily: But we can be united in our vulnerability because all of us, no matter what your vulnerability looks like on the outside, are dependent in our need for a rescuer, for a savior, and for someone to protect us and to restore us to our ultimate protector in God. God does that through Jesus, and Jesus actually comes and makes himself vulnerable and allows himself to be exposed, disrespected, shamed, despised, and rejected. And ultimately, he dies for that, so that no matter what kind of lot we have in this life, we can be healed some day, and we can be fully restored to God in eternity. One thing, this is a little bit of a different angle, but even looking at Jesus' care for the despised, the rejected, and the vulnerable, and his time on earth is just amazing.
Laura: I always want to remember it’s nothing that I did to get myself in this position. I get it’s purely God’s grace, and so me and another woman who is in a more vulnerable position, we’re not so different after all. First of all, at the cross, it’s a level playing field—we’re both sinners, we’re both in need of grace, and we both need Christ to come and redeem us.
Any good that I do is not because of my financial status or because I’ve had college education. But it is purely because of the grace of God and his work in me. Therefore out of an overflow of my gratefulness and out of my thankfulness for what Christ has done for me, I want to do everything I can to bless the other women in my life and image. What Emily was talking about—imaging Christ as he loved the vulnerable. I’m recognizing that until the day I die, I want to wave my banner for the cross.
But like Em, everyday I live here. My goal is to reach people with the gospel, and how can I do that? This podcast is one way, but one way Emily and I have really been impacted by is there are women in our midst who are hurting and who need face to face time, and who need us to come alongside them.
Thankfully, to move into consummation, we can be so thankful that we can know today we’re co-heirs with Christ, which means that everything he received in his adoption of God is ours.
It’s that for vulnerable mom too. And we won’t be alone. No one will be alone someday, no one will be in a dangerous situation, no one will be hurting, fearful, or living paycheck to paycheck. It will be an abundant life.
Emily: And God is going to be a just judge. He’s going to take care of all of the injustices that are happening. It’s hard for us to understand or to see that—that we have a heavenly Father who takes a long view, and people are not getting away with the things that they are doing. It’s either going to be paid for by Christ, or they are going to receive the full punishment and the full wrath of that. So he is a just God.
One thing that I love considering in consummation is when we look at the picture of what is to come, and what it’ll be like, we’ll be standing side by side with a lot of these moms who placed their faith in Christ.
On earth, maybe we felt like there were a lot of these differences. But we’re going to be worshipping in Christ together with them, and have the same status and the same sisterhood. Let’s live that out now in that relationship, just like Jesus did. If we read through the gospels, we see him over and over and over again having these counter-cultural controversial interactions with vulnerable women.
Laura: It didn’t make sense.
Emily: He went ahead and paved that path. So anyways, it’s definitely something we, as followers of Christ, need to follow in that example.
Laura: Even when it feels uncomfortable to us or not easy. We’re going to walk through a couple of principles here. The first one is to remind us we’re not better than a vulnerable mom. I think I started jumping into this a little bit already, that idea that for some reason I can save someone else. We can all get the savior mentality that we've got these resources, or we can just throw them at them and solve all their problems.
But, again, really, we have to recognize that we’re just as sinful as that other mom and any good that we have should just be given from a humble heart and with a lot of humility of recognizing that may not be the best way to solve this issue, and so I want to take a step and recognize that first of all I am like that mom although I may not know the best way to help her.
Emily: Another thing is to see that and be aware. Life moves so fast, and sometimes we need to go the extra mile to get in relationship with people that we don’t know. Or have that conversation with someone you've never met before and really invest in them. Take the time to see what it is that they're struggling through because sometimes too, it may be harder for us to come in contact with these moms because of life’s circumstances.
Maybe they're going to have a harder time making it to church on Sunday, or attending that women’s event, or coming to that Bible study. And when they come, maybe they're going to feel like they don’t really fit in, or they can’t really share with you what's going on, or they're kind of on the outskirts of the event and they're self-conscious. We want to get to know people and invest in relationships enough that we can find those things out, and then meet them in their struggle and welcome them as Christ has welcomed us.
Laura: And as we’re getting to know them, treating them how you would want to be treated. It’s important to listen to their story and to not come in with your own ideals with maybe how that must have happened, or how maybe they did something to contribute to that. But just trust and believe their story and take it at face value.
Make sure to listen; being present, not mentally drifting off and thinking about other things, but to really engage and to really talk with that mom and ask yourself, “Gosh, what would that have been like if that happened to me? What if I didn’t have a support network anymore? What if I couldn’t trust the people around me? What if my job was physically exhausting and I just came home every day from being away from my kids all day and not being able to give them what I would like to give them? What if you had a baby before you were able to have your life be stable? Or what if you were a single mom?”
We know some of you listening may even be in this position. So for those of us that aren’t currently there—of course we can’t know what it’s like, but it’s good to go through that thought process because it develops sympathy for the other mom. And it helps you say, “Wow, I really would want someone to reach out and care for me and to help me.” It kind of gives you perspective.
Emily: And on a more tangible side of things, first you have to start with prayer. Pray that God would help us see and invest in relationships with all kinds of moms that we come in contact with. And then also just praying for God to help us see how to offer tangible support, giving us eyes to see opportunities. And as we pray for people by name, that also helps reshape our focus and helps us see things we might not have seen before.
We thought we’d share a few practical ways that we've seen women live this out because—I don’t want to speak for them, but I’ll speak for myself—this feels like a weak area for me and something that I am just starting to grow in, understanding what this looks like.
Laura: Emily, I totally agree that this is a real area of necessary growth for me, and it’s been this slow awakening. I admit that, but I am thankful that God is waking me up to this. Initially, my first reaction is often like, “I’ll just give money.” Or, “I’ll give resources. I have so many things going on in my life I don’t have time to go invest in that so I am going to give money.”
While that's valuable and helpful in some ways, what we've been challenged by lately is, how can we be in the flesh helping? How can we take our time in our relationships? Be involved in a way that feels uncomfortable at times, it feels stretching and maybe not exactly where we want to be in that moment.
But it’s valuable and important, and so, is there a mom of a child at school that you can intentionally love and invest in? Or is there a neighbor down the street that you've overlooked for a long time, but you can invite them into your home or for a meal, or just start the process of getting to know them, as awkward as it may feel? I don’t know.
Emily: Yes. I think that's definitely the challenge of, “What does it like it to throw someone a stick in the game relationally?” That is often the harder thing for some of us that are in a more privileged position. We definitely don’t have the answers, and we don’t know what this is going to look like for each and every one of you, and some of you are probably already down this path.
Laura: We have a ton of friends who are doing this really well. And some of you may be doing this.
Emily: And some of us are doing the baby steps at the beginning of prayer and thinking of one mom. But whatever it is, we hope that this starts good conversations for you guys, good things to think on and see, and scripture to do further study on.
Laura: Thanks for joining us. We appreciate you guys getting involved in this conversation with us. Of course we’ll likely be talking about this a little bit more on social media as we can. We hope that you guys will join us there. Again, we’re grateful for all of you for giving us a chance to talk about this and to air our conversation. We just hope that you have something that you can take away and apply today.
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