Oct 13, 2017

That Time When Motherhood Changed Our Story

By Rebekah Theilen
“Even if you don’t sense joy in your immediate circumstances, that doesn’t mean God doesn’t intend to give it to you.” Leslie Ludy
Nobody likes it when the main character dies. This was the opinion of director George Lucas, the original Star Wars film producer. In the book You Are What You Love, James K.A. Smith highlights an interesting conversation between Lucas and his co-writer, Lawrence Kasdan. While writing Return of the Jedi, Kasdan tries to convince Lucas to kill somebody off, to give the story an edge with emotional weight and personal impact for the audience. Lucas protests again and again, finally putting his foot down to reveal the heart of where he stands: “This is a fairytale. You want everybody to live happily ever after and nothing bad happens to anybody.”

I like the way the man thinks. Who hasn’t, at least once in her life, dreamed of a world where nobody dies and everyone lives happily ever after?  Wouldn’t it be fun to be friends with the adorable mice who could craft us a beautiful dress for the ball and for all it took to arrive there was the waving of a wand to make a pumpkin come alive?  But that’s not how it works. Our hearts are being shaped by a different kind of story, far bigger than any of us. The story calls us to be all in--to know and love the Truth. The truth is there are two kinds of knowing. One kind of knowing comes with an agreeing nod of the head. The other kind of knowing comes only through tears.

It’s the tears we often find so hard to accept. The long days. The hidden years. The steady and rugged uphill battles and struggles. There is no choice but to fulfill what is required, to face the real world head on, to pick the vomit out of the car seat cracks. The vocation of motherhood gives us an up-close-and-personal relationship with life and death in ways we never signed up for. Upon entrance into the life-giving work of bringing up children, there are times it can surprisingly feel an awful lot more like dying than living. We’re receiving a painful, but liberating lesson in the God-ordained story of the world. The truth is we are not the main characters. We are not Cinderella, we’re more like the pumpkin.  A pumpkin doesn’t glow unless somebody guts it.

So now that we’re pumpkins, we’ve all gotta stay human somehow. If you’ve been given the gift of children, motherhood is one way God will bless and keep you human. In fact, not that anyone asked, but this is the advice I would package in the form of a kiss, and blow back in time to the mother who’s struggling to find the joy in her present life: Close the door. Put the baby in the crib. Buckle the toddler into a high chair. Like my sister and I say when we commiserate on motherhood, “Do whatcha gotta do.” But close the bathroom door. It isn’t selfish to set a boundary. You are still a human being, and human beings need boundaries in order to thrive.

There’s one more thing I need to say about that: It’s okay if you can’t. For a prolonged and sanctifying wrinkle in time, closing the door might not be what you’re able to do or remember or think about right now. The little ones might be in there with you. They might be dirtying their tiny knees on the bathroom floor, crawling happily beside your legs or crying circles around your ankles. I can remember being so hungry for any kind of practical advice, and yet, any advice seemed to come with strings attached to a giant millstone etched with the word IMPOSSIBLE. But here’s what I didn’t know at the time: Not all advice is given to be taken right away.

The giver will have to learn this too. We all will. Mothers are givers, as you well know. Mothers give of themselves, then give some more. It can start to feel like even God isn’t enough to keep us going. But don’t deceive yourself. By all means, pick up your cross, but don’t be picking up or holding on to anything God isn’t asking you to carry.  God never intended for us to die in His place. God can do His own work. And you know what? He has done it. It is finished. It means we can give up, yet again, our human desire for immediate results. The dead will rise, but not today.  Or maybe they will!  It is not for us to know. We know the resurrection tears will come, but for now we still have work to do. Mothers can give and live because we, too, are children.  We are children of the Heavenly Father and Christ is our generous Brother who shares.

The truth is life is hard and it isn’t always fun. I’m pretty sure there’s a part of me that will always struggle to accept this.  I don’t remember why, but one time I googled the word “patience.” The only reason I remember that is because I was blown away by the definition that popped up: Patience—the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset. How long, O Lord? Have many years have we waited for You? How many years have we longed for more patience, more peace, more joy, and more love? It’s hard to wait, because it hurts to wait. It hurts to wait because it hurts to change. This is what waiting does—it changes us. Waiting changes the desires of our hearts.  All the living and dying and suffering in the real world turns our hearts to long for Jesus, and this here is the gift. For in Christ our Life?  What we want is what we always have.

“He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with Him.” 1 Thessalonians 5:10.


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Rebekah spends her days living life alongside her husband and children. She enjoys reading, homeschooling, and every once in a great while, chasing after the wind.   



3 comments:

  1. Thank you, Rebekah, for your post. Motherhood is sacrificial, and that's hard to accept sometimes. It's especially challenging when the world tells you that you're not doing enough. Being home is not enough. Yet God never gives us more than He asks us to carry. It is our vocation to stay home and care for those God has entrusted to us. What a great reminder today! I certainly needed to hear it. God bless and keep you!

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  2. This was so good, Rebekah! My favorite part: "It’s hard to wait, because it hurts to wait. It hurts to wait because it hurts to change. This is what waiting does—it changes us. Waiting changes the desires of our hearts." so, so true! ❤️ God is always working in the waiting. My patience was running dangerously thin today, and this was exactly what I needed to hear.

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  3. I really needed this today, thank you.

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