Having a husband and being a mother has certainly changed me. Not because that’s the only thing in life that can change a person, but because God has chosen this specifically to bring about change in my life.
A while back I spent a weekend with old friends sharing what God has taught us, is still working in us and where we are headed in life. One thing I walked away with was: while being a wife and mom has changed me, it hasn’t budged my identity. If anything, it’s made me more certain of it; and I don’t mean I feel "made for" or am a natural at motherhood or holy matrimony. I'm not more sure in my identity as a mom (that's just a fact), but I'm more sure of my identity as a Christ-follower (also a fact, but my heart often wanes).
As a Christian, I have this massive identity in Christ that is multi-faceted and more true and real of me than any other thing. But I’m still me. Jesus is still Jesus. And I am clearly not Jesus. That may sound weird, but I think that this whole identity in Christ thing (which is incredible and shocking in a really good way) has become a movement that leaves some people wondering what in life they are supposed to be doing here on earth. I may be a daughter of the King, but I still have to be here on earth for the time being.
We have a passive part of our salvation (solid identity) that’s totally set for us when we believe in our hearts and confess with our mouths that Jesus was raised from the dead and saves wretched sinners like ourselves. But we also have an active part where we should be working out our salvation with fear and trembling (we call this sanctification, the putting off of sin and putting on of being more like Christ--- thanks to the Holy Spirit. Whew).
That’s the beautiful thing about the gospel. Regardless of if I'm married, what suffering I go through or even what culture I live in, this totally secure identity is still true of me. It’s amazing in a world of such uncertainty to have something I can be so sure of.
But still, at the end of the day, I have to decide things like what to do with my life, where to work or how to live while I’m on earth.
It makes me thankful for God’s Word. He gave us scripture to help us gain wisdom and insight into how we figure these things out. The Bible provides a way for engagement with Jesus for the purpose of relationship, in order to get to know Him, experience Him. . .and all while on earth, learning what our life should practically be like.
And that’s what I mean by saying, “being a mother or wife has made me more sure.” I’m more certain I still want to do the things I wanted to do before kids or a husband. I still want to work hard, travel lots, create things, be successful, try hard and even live in different places. Don’t misunderstand me; I know that some of these can be selfish. I know real and hard sacrifices are meant to be made. I get that; they make us better people, like Christ the Ultimate Sacrifice-er.
But being a mother and a wife doesn’t mean I need to give everything up. Instead, it means I’m given a beautiful and specific avenue to share what I experience with the lovely people God surrounds me with.
It makes me wonder what I have given up that I could, instead, share with my family and leads me to ask questions like these:
- What part of whom God made me has been left behind in order to please other people or to be more comfortable with myself in front of others (which is a sinful fear of man)?
- Where have I chosen to be confident in my status rather than confident in Christ (which is a lust for comfort from earthly things)?
- Where do I need to turn away from a selfish ease of life (or the places I’ve sat in for so long that I find my identity there regardless of the lie that is) and turn towards trusting God with the risk of doing something unconventional with the life God has specifically called me to?
- What things do I need to give up and say no to so that I'm' free to be more obedient with the gifts God has given specifically to me for building his kingdom and giving him glory?
I want my daughters to learn, grow, and be creative like their heavenly Father. I want them to be disciplined and fulfill the call of God on their lives. I want them to be risk takers and go to great lengths to love people in unconventional ways. I want them to be brave and courageous for the coming kingdom of God. A major part of them doing that is watching me do that. If I cut myself off from the experiences God gives me, then I could be cutting off my daughter's as well.
Yes, there are biblical parameters to what roles we have. However, women shouldn't hide behind these parameters to get out of being driven and fearless, functioning in ways God has beautifully and uniquely designed us. I pray we will have the boldness to be women that God created us to be, not what others think we should be.
Rebekah Hannah is a biblical counselor at The Grace Center for Biblical Counseling in Jacksonville, Florida. She is married to Andrew and has three daughters.