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I recently attended a family gathering where one of my relatives asked another, “How did you find yourself” or “not lose yourself” while rearing three children? I did not hear the response, but the question has stuck with me. This relative feels that she has lost who she is because she is a wife and mother. To her, being happy is not connected with doing her best as a wife and mother, but rather with “finding herself.”
Will she really find happiness that way? I have to admit that I, for a similar reason, have been reluctant to have children. I have pursuits and hobbies that I find myself selfishly clinging to. I have an idea that I will not be fully happy as a mother if I cannot keep up those pursuits. I once saw a quote from someone stating that you do not realize how selfish you are as a human until you have to give up your sleep and every waking moment to raise children. I am sure all women have, in moments of weakness, felt like they have “lost themselves” to the title of Mommy.
But does being a mother and still being “yourself” have to be separate priorities? After hearing my relative talk, I realized that this is not what I want to be like that when I have children— selfishly clinging to who I was without them, brushing off my responsibility towards them so I can pursue my pastimes and hobbies. I recently heard a sermon that reminded me that being a Christian means thinking outwardly, not inwardly. Being a Christian mother is doubly outward—or triply (or more), depending on how many children you have. Is keeping up my hobbies more important than bringing up the next generation to be loving, God-fearing, humble human beings? Will putting my focus on myself make me happy?
God wants wives and mothers to be thrifty, putting their talents to use, but not at the cost of the family. Just read Proverbs 31! “She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her” (Proverbs 31:27-28).
One of the obsessions in the modern Western nations is the “pursuit of happiness.” People go to extreme measures to find that elusive feeling of contentment, but we can see—in the news every day, and in the examples of people around us—the feeling remains elusive for most. My relative has spent a great deal of time pursuing happiness outside of her family, outside of her children. I wish I could share with her the following words: “He who heeds the word wisely will find good, and whoever trusts in the Lord, happy is he” (Proverbs 16:20).
God gives women many opportunities and responsibilities, and instructs us in how to be good Christians, good wives, good friends, good daughters, and good mothers. If we trust His instruction and think outwardly, giving of ourselves instead of looking ever inwardly, how happy we will be!