I was recently asked to review a book for a speaker I have followed for years. I was excited because it was a book I thought I could sink my teeth into, a book that would give me some great guidance. A book about godly motherhood. A book about finding joy in the moments of mothering our children.
And I did. It was such a good book. I loved it. I really, really did – until the email about pictures came.
The speaker was looking for pictures of motherhood which, obviously, isn’t a bad thing. Then, I saw the requirements. I was honestly taken aback by the stereotypical and culture-conscious standards being requested by the marketing team. The one that stood out to me, though, was the age and weight requirement. The moms had to be under 40 and a “healthy weight”.
Don’t get me wrong. I understand how marketing works. It just saddens me that even Christian authors and speakers give in and require the worldly standards of acceptable beauty, especially when this particular author is all about NOT being of the world and not giving in to the world’s standards. It saddens me, because we put up such a fight, saying “God looks at the heart. It doesn’t matter what you look like on the outside! Don’t give in! Just follow God. You’re beautiful the way you are.” And yet, the same speakers, authors, and Christian leaders that fill our shelves with inspirational and thought provoking books, set a double standard by portraying the model-perfect, beautiful, young, marketable women that we all strive to be like – the perfect mom that has it together, that is perfectly dressed with perfect hair and makeup, playing with her children in a perfectly decorated and sparkly clean home. It’s the subtle insinuations of perfection and the expected numbers (age and weight/size) that ultimately tear us down.
Ladies, the reach of my mothering, whether I am a godly mother or not, is not determined by my age or weight. How I guide my child in her relationship with the Lord is not, and never will be, determined by the fact that I am not a “healthy weight”. I admit, my weight does, at times, hinder things I can do with my child. But, I am aware of my weight; I am working on my weight; and I am purposely guiding my child to better food choices than I made. Does this make me less of a mother? Not at all. Does this mean I am not a godly mother? Most certainly not.
Additionally, I am not a “young” mom. I’m a new mom, but I’m not young when you consider the typical new-mom age group in the church. I had my daughter two months before I turned 31. I have a lot more life experience than some of the younger moms, yet we are still in the new-mom circle together. Would I call them godly mothers? Absolutely. But, I probably wouldn’t go to them for sage advice. I would go to those women over 40, those moms that have been in the battle fields and on the front-line. These women have fought the battle. Some they have lost, some they have won. But, they have fought a good fight. They have kept their eyes on the ultimate goal – being a godly example for their children and seeing their children come to know the Lord. These are the godly women I want to emulate.
Ultimately it’s not about the numbers of years we have spent on this earth. It’s not about the numbers that go up, down, and all around in a frustrating game of weight loss or weight gain. It’s not the number of children we have or the size that is associated with our clothing. These are not the numbers that define us.
The most important numbers of motherhood are the times you’ve kissed your child’s “boo-boos”, the number of hands you’ve held, the number of times you’ve tucked them in and said their bedtime prayers, and the number of times you’ve played at the park. The numbers that matter are the number of times you’ve crawled into bed weary from a day chasing your toddler or playing taxi for your teenage son, the times you have cried out to God for wisdom, the times you have cried while feeling like a failure, and the times you have smiled with triumph and thought “I’ve got this!”. The numbers to remember are the times you’ve fallen on your face before God and cried for the prodigal to come home, the number of times you’ve welcomed the wayward child back into your arms, and the time you’ve laughed through the years.
Count the hours you’ve read the Bible to your child. Count the endless questions you’ve answered about life, God, and the world. Count the sound of steps echoing in your hall. Count the times you’ve gathered around the Christmas tree and read the Christmas story in remembrance of His birth.
These are numbers that should define a godly mother. Not the age. Not the weight. Not the number of children. The numbers that count are the numbers of godly actions, the prayers, the smiles, the times guiding and correcting.
These are numbers that are important. Please remember – and don’t let the world or even a popular author or speaker tell you otherwise.