By Jordan Bromhead
These are the rambling thoughts of a new mother. It’s my story, my experience, but I also recognise that every woman’s story is different.
There are two things that I am working on to ‘let go’ in the context of motherhood and ministry. They are fairness and balance.
I find it hard to sit still. I dive deep into things I feel passionate about and give everything I have to make them happen. This is one of those strengths that can sometimes be overdone. So, when the challenge of ministry and mothering landed in my lap, I was going to make it all happen. Holy callings, however, are rarely predictable, and I have found myself more frustrated and at the end of myself than ever before.
There is nothing ‘fair’ about child rearing
Unfairness begins right at the start – from carrying the child and the various bodily changes to the exhaustion, sickness and going to the bathroom every hour. And then there’s feeding an infant at 3am next to your sleeping husband with his useless nipples. No matter how engaged and active your husband is with the kids, there are times when only ‘Mumma’ will do.
Then there’s the ache of wanting to get stuck into ministry, into what you feel you’ve been called to do, without interruption. But one of you has to look after the kids or you have nothing left at the end of the day and there’s still six loads of washing to do. It hurts, it aches and some days the frustration runs deep. These are deep feelings of being sidelined while everyone else runs ahead.
I’m not saying you don’t need a village for support, and in no way am I letting husbands off the hook as your teammate in the trenches, but the more I let go of the idea of fairness the better I have been.
This is a sacred and holy task that cannot be divided. There are places in motherhood where only you and Jesus will walk, and it isn’t ‘fair’. There will be things only you will be asked to give up and it isn’t ‘fair’. There are places that only you can fill, and it is an honour, sacrifice and privilege given only to you.
There are parts of your story that will only be understood by Jesus, and that’s the beauty of him, right? All through the Bible he comes alongside women, he meets them in their daily life. At the well. He meets them in the mundane. Many people have the space to give God 30 minutes of devotional time in the morning, or escape in solitude, but you have the opportunity to give him your whole day. The fact that it is borne out of necessity isn’t ‘fair’, but it is a golden opportunity to learn what it means to tune in to the Spirit in every moment. “Holy Spirit, help” is my battle cry.
That said, I am grateful for a husband that recognises that taking a shower without little noses pressed up to the glass, or grocery shopping without tantrums in aisle 3, are basic human functionings, not ‘me time’. I pray there are more husbands out there supporting mothers to sit in a cafe by herself, go for a walk or get a massage, as part of restful rhythms and not as a special treat.
Letting go of the idea of work/life, ministry/life balance
This time in your life will prune your priorities and sharpen your focus and discernment more than any other time. You have finite capacity as it is, then, way more than half of it (some days more than all of it) is consumed by your little people. You can fight it or spend the time leaning in, shedding earthly expectations and surrendering to the next step and only the next step – listening to your Father’s gentle guidance.
Balance implies equal measure, which is a flawed concept from the beginning as there is no equal measure with children or ministry. It’s a juggle. Sometimes there will be nine balls in the air and sometimes only one. Sometimes one thing will require more of you than the other and vice versa. I am working on releasing myself from the guilt of not having balance and instead sitting in the tension of ministry and family life, allowing some balls to be dropped. And some balls will drop. You will let people down. I pray that as I look back on my life, I can feel I listened to God with my time and priorities and chose my children’s hearts more, not less.
There is also the excruciating task of trusting your children to God. Trusting the fact that no matter how well you juggle, you need him to fill the gaps.
“He will feed his flock like a shepherd.
He will carry the lambs in his arms,
holding them close to his heart.
He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young”
(Isaiah 40:11 NLT)
I am grateful for the opportunity to minister to my kids and also be a ministering Mumma. I am grateful for God’s gentleness in this season, and I am mostly grateful for his grace.
This is a hard and holy calling and, Mummas, you were made to do it, but you were also never meant to do it alone.
Jordan Bromhead is a wife and the mother of two children (aged 23 months and six months). She is the worship pastor, preacher and wife of the Senior Minister at Nowra Church of Christ.