A thank-you card is nice. But that’s not why I mother
Joanne Yap // May 10, 2017, 12:11 am
For one Sunday every year, instead of being the one to have to wake up early to dish out cereal and toast for breakfast, I get served breakfast instead.
Last year, I was treated to heart-shaped slices of toast with dollops of peanut butter for eyes and a smile made of kaya, served up alongside cards that read: I love you Mummy! Thank you for taking care of me!
It was a simple gesture of thanks, some acknowledgment of the hard work that has gone into motherhood: The many diapers changed, cuts soothed with love and plaster, rounds of 听写 revision, teeth brushed, hair braided and lunchboxes packed.
The seven years providing for the physical needs of my children have been fulfilling. But as I enjoy my breakfast treat this year, I have a little more food for thought for why I do what I do – why all mothers do what we do – after a recent Bible study on the book of John.
You know the story where Jesus multiplies five loaves of bread and two fish to the feed the 5,000. In John 6:27, Jesus tells the crowds who have come in search of Him after His miracle: “Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.”
As I toil to make sure my kids eat sufficiently from each food group and complete their homework on time, how am I also toiling in a way that points them to what really matters?
Jesus knows the crowds have come to Him in the hopes of further satisfying their physical and material needs but He points them heavenward instead.
This got me thinking: What am I doing to provide spiritual food for my children? Because that’s my spiritual legacy as a mother.
How am I working for food that endures to eternal life in the parenting of my children? As I toil to make sure that they eat sufficiently from each food group and complete their homework on time, how am I also toiling in a way that points them to what really matters?
How am I showing my children that I will prioritise my time and resources so that even though it may be difficult and inconvenient at times, I will choose to serve where God has called me to?
How do I teach them:
- That as an individual, I will choose to make time in the study of His Word – such that I am secure in my identity as a dearly-loved child of God (John 1:12)
- That as a wife, I will choose to love and submit to the spiritual authority vested in my husband (Ephesians 5:22-23)
- That as a parent I strive in prayer for each one of them (Like Jesus did in Mark 10:16)
- That as for me and my household, we will choose to serve the Lord (Joshua 24:15)
And in so doing, little by little, I sow into their lives a biblical foundation for how they should live – as individuals, as husbands and wives, as parents and as a family.
The more I chew on this, the more I’m beginning to realise the importance of anchoring their little lives spiritually now. I can’t provide for them physically forever, but a parent’s spiritual legacy will be what continues to encourage and inspire them when the day come that they’re leading families of their own.
I knew my late mother-in-law for little more than a year before she passed away. That isn’t a lot of time to get to know someone, but to this day I remember how even as she physically struggled with kidney failure, she always found the strength to talk to the nurses and other patients at the dialysis ward at the hospital about God.
I remember how, on what turned out to be the last weekend she would spend out of the hospital, though weak and on a wheelchair, she chose to attend service at church – because whether in sickness or in health, God never stopped being the most important person in her life.
Yes, God blesses us with what we need for life on this earth, but His primary concern is our spiritual coming-of-age.
Her spiritual legacy continues, because I see that same love for God reflected in my husband today.
That’s my lesson from John 6:27: It’s for food that does not spoil that we are called to work. If you think about it, that’s really how God our Heavenly Father parents His children. Yes, He blesses us with what we need for life on this earth, but His primary concern is our spiritual coming-of-age.
God the Father wants us to know Him with greater intimacy each day, so that we may focus less on what He provides physically and materially, but be filled instead with the joy of knowing and loving Him for who He is.
So it will be for food that leads to eternal life that I will continue to work at in my role as a mother. My kids are so young, they won’t get it now, but I look forward to the day when the card I receive will read: Thank you for taking care of me. Thank you for always pointing my heart back to God, and to who He has called me to be.