A common Christian “mommy blog” topic is grace. “Give yourself grace,” they all say, whether it’s about potty training or cleaning or screen time. But all too often, I find, this “grace” has turned into a nice, convenient way of relieving themselves of the guilt of laziness that comes with sitting on the couch and watching Netflix all day. (Guilty, and I’m preaching to myself as much as the next girl.) It’s a way to ignore the calling God has given us as wives and mothers, wrapped up in a bow of apparent piety.
First, let’s take a look at the statement these blogs make, to see if there’s any truth to be found. Merriam-Webster defines grace as “a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine grace;” also as “a temporary exemption.” Grace is forgiveness and sanctification, even though we don’t merit it at all. There’s a partial truth found in there, then; God isn’t going to disown you for not having your dishes done. Which is a really good thing, because mine aren’t. God gives us grace daily and constantly for the myriad of sins we commit every day of our entire lives.
The issue I have with this seemingly innocuous statement is that it’s simply an excuse. A reason to ignore and shirk the responsibility God has given us. We are not made to sit around in our pajamas all day, doing nothing. This isn’t a life goal to have. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says,
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. [All Bible quotes from the ESV.]
But why did we swing so far away from what actual grace is? How did “grace gone wild” come about? Every sin has its overly pious counterpart. There’s another whole batch of mommy bloggers – you know, the ones with their postcard perfect lives, the moms who devote every waking hour to their children, and would never deign to feed them goldfish crackers. These moms, out of a misplaced self-righteous martyr spirit, have gotten so wrapped up in their Martha – Stewart and Bible – that they’ve forgotten to be Mary.
So what is the alternative? Obviously we aren’t supposed to throw grace out the window entirely, just as we aren’t supposed to throw out self-sacrifice either. Let’s keep the baby, and get rid of the dirty bath water.
Just as any Christian, we need to look at what we’re called to do. Motherhood, I regret to inform you, isn’t glamorous. Most days are spent with cranky toddlers and a noticeable lack of adult, rational conversation, with an insane amount of dishes. (Seriously, where do all the dishes come from?!) But this is where we have been placed to best serve the kingdom of God! Did you realize as you’re changing diaper number 2,386 at 2 am, you’re serving God just as much as a missionary in a remote African village? We are all called to work, and this is the work we’ve been given. But don’t think for a second that working means we can’t lead fulfilling lives, that we are somehow worth less because we are called to be wives and mothers. Rebekah Merkle puts this beautifully in her book Eve in Exile:
He’s the God who created the tiger. The eagle. The sun. The palm tree. Why on earth, when He got to mankind, would He suddenly decide that He wanted to top it all off with a creature that’s not allowed to live up to its full potential and has to sputter along at 10 percent output, never allowed to get out of first gear? I think we’re safe on that front. I’m pretty sure that we’ll find that what God has created us for is far more breathtaking, crazy, scary, and glorious than we have wanted to assume, and I don’t think any of us, if we throw ourselves into the roles that He sets for us, will find ourselves bored. [pg. 100]
Furthermore, as Christians, we’re not only supposed to work, but to hold it against God’s excellent standard as we do it. To make it the best we can. Life isn’t all sunshine and unicorns, and your laundry might not always be caught up. Doing a job well requires work, and doesn’t require you to act like a martyr – I’m talking about the “woe is me I have to do laundry again” attitude. You don’t get any extra credit in heaven for being the most miserable. But I’d be willing to bet that doing the job well and to God’s glory might merit some.
Falling back on false “grace,” however, isn’t glorifying at all! You’re intentionally throwing away the blessing of work God has given to you, to sit on the couch. You’re discarding glory for lethargy. Are we to sin more (i.e. shirk our God-given responsibilities) that grace may abound? [Romans 6:1] Not a chance.
Let’s start a new trend. One with moms who know that life is work and work is hard. But also moms that know we were created for this beautiful work – who know its glory and honor. Having kids and raising them and keeping up with the million dishes and diapers that go with them is exhausting and yes, it’s the hardest thing we will ever do in our lives. We will end our days collapsing into bed, but we will be satisfied. We can sit down to Netflix and a glass of wine on our couch without a twinge of guilt, for we have filled our day with doing what God has created us to do.
You can still wear your pajamas all day. But get up and do the work.