Meet Diana. By age 24, this slender, bright, and beautiful young woman was a newlywed with a BA in Speech Communication and a BS in Education. She loved her husband and the prospects of wifehood and motherhood. At the age of 25, Diana gave birth to a son. About two years later, she birthed a second son. At first the novelties of motherhood and homemaking were quite exhilarating. She felt blessed of the Lord to be living her fondest dreams.
He raises the poor from the dust, and lift s the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes, with the princes of His people. He makes the barren woman abide in the house as a joyful mother of children. Praise the Lord (Psalm 113:7-9).
But soon the exhilaration wore off. Every morning, she faced dirty diapers, runny noses, food messes, temper tantrums, discipline problems, clothing piles, and kitchen clutter. Another son was born. Claustrophobic with cabin fever and boredom doldrums, she sighed, “Any twelve-year-old could wash these dishes, wipe these fannies, mop that floor, and pour these Cheerios onto this high chair tray.”
Her mind often drifted back to her high school and college years. “Back then, I was the center of my world. I decided what I wanted to do for myself. My decisions were based on what would please and broaden me. People applauded me on the stage, commended me for my well-delivered speeches, and discussed with me my future goals and aspirations in life. I enjoyed expressing my creativity in the classroom, discussing profound literary themes with my students, and checking off my responsibilities on each day’s challenging to-do list.
“But it’s not about me anymore. Now, I watch my husband every morning escape out into the wild blue yonder where he meets exciting people, he goes out for lunch, and he checks off challenging tasks, and he enhances his career and his potential. Then he returns home to this less-than-immaculate house and is puzzled about what I did all day, why dinner’s not ready yet, and why I don’t make a fuss about his return.
“Though I’ve given up everything for my husband and my children, I get no applause or atta-boys. I’ve lost center-stage preeminence and become a back-stage nobody.”
Her years in the feminism-infested current had given her glamorous dreams of personal glory. And now those dreams were dashed. Diana was downcast and heavy. She felt trapped. This was her lot for the rest of her life. She was grieving the death of her youthful dreams. “I basically spiraled down into a depression. I resented my husband’s success and my children’s thanklessness. I questioned if all of this self denial was really necessary. It just seemed as if it was asking too much of me.
“Theoretically and theologically, I held to the biblical role of selfless wifehood and motherhood. But internally and emotionally there was deep-seated resistance in my heart. Feminism was like fluoride in the water of my youth, and now I was feeling its poison in my soul. Why must I give up my life to make my husband and his children look good? What about my aspirations, my abilities, my yearnings for influence and significance? What am I, chopped liver? Have I become my husband’s medieval slave? I want to be somebody. I want to be recognized. I want to be applauded too.”
Years later, Diana, who now has five children, admits, “I was in mild rebellion against God. And I stayed there for a while, until I saw those wants for what they really are—the display of my idolatrous, selfish, sinful pride. It was only when I took those deep personal longings and put them on the altar of consecration to God that I began to make spiritual headway.”
Meditations on her Savior burned away her rebellion and brought peace to her soul. In the garden of Gethsemane , the Lord Jesus looked into the appalling cup of self-sacrifice that His Father had poured for Him. He staggered at the thought of drinking it down to its last painful dregs. Instead of resentfully protesting, “What am I, chopped liver?” He submitted saying, “Father, if Thou art willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Thine be done” (Luke 22:42).
It’s my understanding that every biblically committed wife and mother must pass through a personal Gethsemane of sorts, needing to come to grips with the cup her Father has poured for her.
Think, dear sister, how the Lord Jesus selflessly served you. He laid down His life to make you look good. He laid it down on crucifixion day, so that you’d look good on judgment day. He was spat upon, beaten, scourged, mocked, stripped, spiked, hung, and forsaken. Then He breathed His last so that you wouldn’t forever weep, wail, and gnash your teeth in hell. He was born, lived, and died with the sole object that you would look good forever. Could it be that this wifehood and motherhood thing is calling you to higher ground, conforming you more to His glorious image?
My own wife shared with me an illustration that has helped her. It came from the movie Chariots of Fire. The British Olympic sprinter, Eric Liddell, was strolling on the Scottish Highlands, explaining to his sister the reason why he ran: “I believe God made me for a purpose, but He also made me fast. And when I run I feel his pleasure.” The thought of God’s face smiling at him drove him down the track. My bride confided: “The Lord made me for His purpose, too. He made me a woman, a wife, and a mother. He made me to serve. And when I serve, I feel His pleasure. And regardless of society’s face, my child’s face, or even my husband’s face, it’s my Heavenly Father’s face that drives me on. I know that when He sees me serving, He smiles and says, ‘This is my beloved daughter in whom I am well pleased.’ When I serve, I feel His pleasure.”
An excerpt from Womanly Dominion: More than a Gentle and Quiet Spirit (Calvary Press) by Mark Chanski, pp 152-155.