Jun 10, 2016

When Mother is Dispensable

By Marie MacPherson

It was a beautiful dream come true: finishing school, getting married to her college sweetheart, becoming pregnant. It wasn’t an easy pregnancy by any means, though. So much morning sickness. Except that it wasn’t morning sickness at all. My friend’s son was delivered by C-Section at 28 weeks, so she could begin stomach cancer treatment as soon as possible. She had a few more months with her son and husband before she left this world, and thanks be to Christ, into the arms of her heavenly Father.

My friend was safely home. What about her little boy? Family, friends, and the community came together to help the father and lift him up in his difficult vocation of single father, all the while still mourning for that beautiful dream. Before long, God provided a new wife for this man, and a new mother for his son. I recently saw this lovely family with their active 4-year-old son, his new little sister, and another baby on the way.

During her medical ordeal, I checked my friend’s Facebook page frequently for updates. I talked to fellow church members to hear if there was any news. I hugged my own children a little more tightly. And I realized that I am dispensable.

Wait. What?

As Lutherans, we’ve got a lot of good theology going for us, including the Doctrine of Vocation and the proper distinction of the roles of men and women. We value females for being what God made them to be, not just for their education, ambitions, or climb up the corporate ladder. We posit that children need both fathers and mothers and that mothers have a unique and irreplaceable role in raising their babies. So, why would an author who believes all that call mothers dispensable?

God grants the blessing of children and the vocation of motherhood. He handpicks parents for children. He chooses to provide for the young and the old primarily through their families. But He can and sometimes does choose to bless our families in creative and unique ways.

We as women, whether sisters, daughters, mothers, or wives, have all had situations where we just couldn’t do it. There was a project we couldn’t accomplish. There was sickness which made us incompetent to fill our role. There was a failure that let down our loved ones. But life still went on. Apologies were made and forgiveness was given.

Turns out, we didn’t have to do it all. In fact, we can’t do it all. In Eternal Treasures, Mary Moerbe explains it in these words: “God does not depend on parental competency in order to raise a child [or serve our families]. ... We might feel like we need to be in control, but a beautiful, gracious thing is already at work, helping us and raising our children: God’s Word” (p. 99).

God is good. He doesn’t leave us in the sins of our parents, Adam and Eve, or in our own wickedness. He promised a Savior, and he fulfilled that promise. This was no project He couldn’t accomplish; no sickness left Him incompetent; no failure let us down. He provided the obedience, death, and resurrection of Jesus, that through Him, we may have life more abundantly (John 10:10).

I learned so much from my friend, in both life and death. Her trial and death taught me that even if I die, God will continue to care for the physical and spiritual needs of my children. Doesn’t it follow that He will also care for them if I’m just not as capable as I hoped I would be? There will be cycles of times in our lives when we as servants to our families can’t do what we are “supposed” to be doing. But, despite our inadequacies, God can still provide in creative and merciful ways.

Take heart, mothers, sisters, daughters, and wives! God planned for your presence in your family in this moment, even if it means your family must serve you in this season. Even if it has become your vocation to receive, rather than give. Even in the last dark walk through the valley of the shadow of death. God can and will provide for your children and family, both spiritually and physically, with or without you. Your children (and you) are baptized into Christ, children of paradise. Nothing can snatch them out of His hand.


Marie is wife to Ryan, homeschooling hausmutter to their five living children, and redeemed child of God. She used to actively participate in theater, debate team, choir, and international travel, but realizes now that those were merely a foretaste of the joys of her current vocation: managing children’s dramatics, arbitrator of kids’ arguments, singing hymns and lullabies, and sharing unbelievable mission stories. When she’s not caring for her own children, Marie reads extensively, researching natural health, marriage, and parenting. She is the editor of Mothering Many: Sanity-Saving Strategies from Moms of Four or More. Follow her blog at: www.intoyourhandsllc.com/blog

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