Ep. 70 || Is Motherhood Your Measure of Success? Transcript

This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Laura: Well,  hello! Welcome to another episode of Risen Motherhood! I have my pregnant sister-in-law, Emily Jensen, here with me,

Emily: [Laughs] I just love being described like that—thanks!


Laura: Beautifully pregnant—I don’t know…pretty and pregnant?

Emily: I’m hot right now.  Actually, I’m sitting in a room with no AC, but I’m smiling.

Laura: Aw. You poor thing, I’m sorry! By the time you guys hear this episode, I’m hoping that, at the very least, my baby is in my arms and Emily will be 5 weeks out from your due date. She’s due in early August. So you heard us hint at last week, but just to let you guys know, we are actually going to be taking a two month—I have air quotes here—“maternity leave”.  I don’t know if you can count it as a maternity leave, but we are going to be taking a break from releasing new content. But we are not disappearing completely. We will be sharing content on social media, so go find us over there @risenmotherhood on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. And then of course, we are also probably going to do a couple blog posts that we’ve written ahead of time. You guys are not completely rid of us during these next two months but we are going to be taking time to just be with our families and be with the new babies. And we are coming back just roaring! We already have plans for September so a lot coming to you guys come September. But until that point, it’s going to be a little quieter around here.  

Emily: Yes, a little quieter. Although, not at our houses because we’ll have lots of little cries…

Laura: Oh man…

Emily: But they’re so sweet sometimes.

Laura: Yes, except at 2 a.m., that’s when you’re like, “AH!” But then you wake up at like 8 a.m. and you’re like, “Why are you so cute? I forgive you for everything!”

Emily: I know! "I forgive you for everything." Exactly. And we will make sure we share on social media pictures when our babies come. But another fun thing if you follow along, especially on Instagram and Facebook, we are going to sift through our archives and maybe pull some shows from the depths of the archives that you guys didn’t even know we had.

Laura: Yes!

Emily: Sometimes I go sifting through  the website and I’m like, “Wow! I forgot we recorded a show on that!”

Laura: Me too! Yes, me too!

Emily: So we are going to try to share some of our favorite shows or ones that we almost forgot about that we think still have a ton of relevance. So again, like Laura said, definitely hang around social media, and we are excited to be back in September.

Laura: Yes, so look for us then! But today we are talking about just a fun, light-hearted topic. Something  we talk about all the time. We are talking about motherhood. What? What? Shocker! [Laughs] But all of us talk about motherhood with everyone we know. It seems to feel almost all consuming, you know? It can become something that we build up to where we can’t think of about anything else, we can’t talk about anything else, we can’t almost do anything else. It’s kind of this altar that we start to give everything to. Em, do you want to jump in and talk a little bit about some ways that you can make motherhood too important in your life?

Emily: Yes! And it was funny as you were saying that, I can remember before having my first baby, sitting around other moms and being so annoyed like, “Why do they always talk about their kids? When I’m a mom, I am not going to talk about my kids all the time!”

Laura: Ohhh. That’s adorable!

Emily: Here I am! [Laughs] At the podcast about moms.


Emily: So anyways, we know this just happens. And I think for me, one of the biggest traps is really letting the way that my motherhood is going kind of control all of my emotions and how I’m feeling about myself as a person. If my kids seem to be doing well, and they’re making progress in certain areas, or I feel like they’ve been really obedient lately or whatever, I tend to feel pretty good about myself. If they won’t seem to go number two on the potty—which I’m dealing with right now—or some other issues, you start to really feel like you’re going to have a personal crisis, you know? So definitely I will tie my own self-evaluation and how I’m doing as a person with how my kids are doing, you know?

Laura: Yes, exactly! And I think that I’m really, really similar except a little bit of a twist on that in the sense of I look at the homemaking as a whole, you know? Not just how my kids are doing but I can kind of be like, “Well, am I also keeping a very clean house?” and “Am I getting dinner on the table? It must be wholesome, well-rounded, and homemade.” Or “Am I remembering to change the sheets?” Why are sheets so hard to remember to wash and change? It’s sort of the worst job. But I can start measuring myself on these silly little things where I get very caught up in the doing of motherhood. Of making sure that my kids show up on time, you know, that they have clean faces, and they have clean clothes or whatever. Instead of just enjoying, and being grateful for and resting in the fact that Christ ultimately is caring for them and that I don’t have to be perfect or successful in all the things of motherhood. But that’s where I can kind of get my identity tied up in.

Emily: Yes, and what I think is really interesting is most moms I know—probably myself and Laura included—can quickly define in their own mind what they think success is.

Laura: Yes!

Emily: And we have this standard in our heads, and it’s very detailed often.  It comes from a lot of different things we’ve collected over the years. Whether that be a friend we really admire, or an older woman where we’ve watched what see does, or maybe it’s kind of a church standard or something our own mom did. And we put all these pieces together and form this puzzle and say, “OK. If I look like this, I am successful!” And when we are matching that a little bit, we feel good. When we are not, we are despairing. But I think, that’s not what God meant for us to be doing in our motherhood. And he didn’t really want us to do that with any rule or relationship in our lives—to be defined by it and to be constantly striving and judging and comparing ourself against this earthly standard or picture of what something should be. So the question is, are we doing that? Are we defining our success and our identity in motherhood?

Laura: Yes, I think that it can be really easy to put motherhood too high. I think people can kind of use the phrase, "Motherhood our highest calling." Or is it the most important thing you will ever do? And that’s kind of the question we want to answer today is, “Hey, does motherhood ever get too important… Is that possible?” Short answer is, "Yes!" [Laughs] So if we dive into the gospel, this is Risen Motherhood, we can just look at the catechism, "What is the chief end of man? And man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever." And so we know that ultimately, it’s not to enjoy motherhood forever. It’s not to glorify motherhood. We are to glorify God and to enjoy him. And Jesus says when asked, “Hey! What is the greatest commandment? What am I supposed to do?” Jesus responded saying, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might.” That’s the greatest and first commandment and so we know that they’re not using the word motherhood. That’s not what it’s all about. And if motherhood is above worshipping God and looking at ourselves as a woman or a person that worships God, then it has usurped the right order of your heart.

Emily: Yes, which we know is something that all men have done—all men and women are fallen. Adam and Eve, in the garden, traded this good provision and these good promises that God gave them to enjoy something that was created. They questioned God’s goodness and they were looking for satisfaction in something other than God himself. And so, this is sometimes referred to as idolatry. I actually think…


Laura: Just the way you said that kind of like, “Shocker!” It’s very-

Emily: That sounded really dorky. OK, we are going to try to stay on task here today.


Laura: Yes, sorry!

Emily: OK! So I think Tim Keller does a really good job explaining this. He has a book called Counterfeit Gods. And he says, “An idol is something that we look to for things that only God can give.” So instead of, again, turning to God knowing that he is the ultimate provider of all of the things that we need, we look to things that are really dead and unable to give us that satisfaction.

Laura: So this is true of our sinful nature in motherhood too. And what we do is we put that on the pedestal, on the altar where God should be, and we expect for it to provide our joys, our hopes… As we talked before, it really can influence our feelings when it’s way too high up. Another thing that we do is that we can sinfully lay down things that we shouldn’t be putting aside when we put motherhood too high. So basically what we’re doing is taking what should be a good thing—motherhood—and we are putting it too high on the altar where all these other good things kind of fall because of that. And we sacrifice these things in the name of making motherhood too important. So things like your relationship with your husband can be hurt, your own self care, living beyond limitations. Hannah Anderson interview—right Em—is really good about limits. We can begin to sacrifice time with God and getting to know him more, our connection to and serving the church body and the ministry that we should have there, management of our own homes, balancing our own schedules. There are a lot of things that when we put motherhood too high, dominos fall because we’re not looking at ourselves as a whole person.

Emily: Yes! So I think the question is, how do we break out of this pattern? Or is it just do we grit our teeth and try harder to get that shower in? Or be a little nicer to our husbands? That’s really good. But ultimately the only answer to that is found in Christ. God knew that there was no way that we were going to break out of this idolatrous, sinful pattern on our own by our own efforts. We needed a Savior to free us. And when we trust in Jesus, we get the Holy Spirit and he gives us a new heart and a new nature and a new ability to do what is right and pursue the things of the Lord. Now obviously, we are not going to be perfect in that— it’s a battle, we’re going to stumble. But it’s this beautiful way that he can help us from one degree of glory to another, to overcome some of these sins in our lives and bring him glory in our lives.

Laura: Yes. And with that, as we move into restoration, we find that our hope is not going to be in all the things we accomplish or do as a mom. Our hope isn’t in our children; it’s not all about you. You don’t rise or fall based on your motherhood. What we hope in now is what God has done for us and what he’s done in the gospel and that is a beautiful long lasting eternal hope with great promise. And so, that also means that we’re far more than just being moms. When the gospel truly defines us, we don’t primarily think of ourselves as a mom, we think of ourselves as a woman created in the image of God to love Him, to love others in his name in every role and relationship that we have, not just in motherhood. So that really changes how we find and determine our success or our achievement when we look at ourselves as a whole woman created to worship God—motherhood is not all there is! So our worth cannot be found in children, homemaking, any part of motherhood. It is found in Christ, and that is such a better and more stable foundation than those shaky sands of idolization that we tend to do.

Emily: Yes and praise the Lord! Because I think one look at any of our hearts on any given day in our mothering, in our homemaking, in what we want to define ourselves by will just show that we fall desperately short. And Christ never does. He is an infinite well of hope. But some of you may be like, “OK, bring it down to earth for me!” [Laughs] What does this look like realistically? I know on the show, we talk a lot about living the gospel or applying the gospel and it can be hard to really understand how to do that. So first of all, we need to know it.

Laura: Yes, we need to know it. And you’ve heard us say that we need to know God, know what he says, know what the gospel is… So this goes back to biblical literacy, our theme for the year. If you are wanting to dive into studying the Bible and knowing God's word more, we do have some really good tools through motherhood equipping. They’re completely free. We design them because we desire for moms to be able to know God’s word intimately and personally, not just through the podcast or someone else who is talking to them. We want your mind to be transformed as you take in his word yourself to know the real God and not just some random version of him.

Emily: Yes, and I think as we’re doing that, lets say, even if it’s a couple of times a week—which we hope it’s something where you can get to where we do everyday—it shifts my perspective for the day. It helps me when I have that moment of weakness or I have that moment where I realize, “Ooo, I sinned there! Or I didn’t live up to that standard.” I realize, “I’m not in control of everything!” That can be a moment where I remember the truth of the gospel and I’m able to say that back to myself in my head—sometimes out loud, sometimes I’m freaking people out in my house by saying stuff out loud. [Laughs] That over time, changes – I hope, our response!

Laura: Yes. The way to change your heart on this is a lot of where your heart is and  where your peace and rest is found. So as we get into this practical, just knowing the way this fleshes out, it starts by what are you pouring in, and that’s what is poured out. So the practical isn’t as tangible as I was thinking. But I think as Emily talked on, we’ll start to see our weaknesses, we’ll start to see areas where we have need, and as we study the scriptures more, as we’re in God's word, we see those things more. And conviction is a wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit, knowing that we are truly regenerate and those things lead us back to Christ and recognize what our place is and what our standing is before God. And really it should bring you to such gratefulness that, again, your love for God and what he’s done for you allows you to love your family well and to put them in the right order in your life.

Emily: Yes, so just to summarize today, what might it look like if we’re making God and his glory the most important thing and not our motherhood? I think one benefit is that we don’t have to ride that roller coaster again, like what Laura is saying about our ups and our downs being tied to how our children are doing or how we think we are doing at home or with our parenting. Another thing we touched on is that we can invest in a lot of different relationships and a lot of different ministries because we are a woman that is on mission for the sake of the gospel to make disciples. We are living that out in every role and every sphere of our life with all of the gifts and abilities God has given us. So that’s going to come out in motherhood, and it’s going to come our in our relationship with our husband, and hopefully the way we’re serving at church, and the way we’re serving our neighbors. The story isn’t about us and it’s not about our motherhood, and we can live that out!

Laura: Exactly! And I think that the pitfall that I really fall into is wondering, “Am I doing enough? Am I really doing my best and my hardest in motherhood?” And when you put Christ in the right order in your life and motherhood in your proper place, you don’t have to wonder any more if you’re doing enough for your family, that answer is clear: you’re not, and you cannot. If you’re wondering, here’s your answer: you can’t save everyone in your life. Instead, when Christ is on the throne, we can seek faithfulness in our roles and trust God for our weakness. So when we can’t meet a need for our family, it doesn’t totally throw us out of the loop. We don’t have to be a person that’s living on edge or that’s always wondering how we’re doing or living in an uptight way. We can be peaceful, joyful, patient, and easy to be around, because we’re not comparing ourself to some standard that God hasn’t asked us to do.

Emily: Yes, and I think going back to the interview we did with Hannah Anderson a few weeks ago, which I just loved, we’re able to be free to take care of ourselves within the limitations that God has given us as humans. Like we need sleep, we need food, we might need some level of exercise and emotional care, and all of those things. And whenever we’re saying, “ You know what, God is God, I am not. He has not put me in this domain to rule over it perfectly!” We are able to do those things and I think be a lot less stressed in general and just be free in that. It’s not perfect, but I don’t know, I feel like I experience more and more freedom as I realize it’s not up to me to hold the whole world together.

Laura: Exactly, so as we wrap of here for our final show of the summer, we hope that you will spend July and August really diving into the gospel of getting to know the things that God loves—to begin to love the same things that he loves. And when you start to feel tempted or realizing that motherhood is maybe becoming too important that you would just stop and take a moment to look at Christ and to remember what your heart should love first and foremost. We, again, will be on social media while we are out as we preach to ourselves—this is going to be especially difficult with new little babies around. We will be over there so we hope you will join us in those communities. And anything else, Em?

Emily: Yes, just head over to our show notes, we will try to include a lot of great resources and books for you guys in terms of this looking to Christ and how that fleshes out in our parenting. So yes, we will see you guys back in September!

Laura: Yay!