What on earth can those three things possibly have in common, you might be wondering. It’s a lot simpler than you think! I have several friends who have confessed to me the trials of motherhood. They feel unappreciated by their families and unimpactful in the world. They wonder how constantly wiping bottoms, changing diapers, feeding mouths, doing laundry and running countless errands can possibly be worthwhile. They feel bogged down by the seemingly mundane, monotonous, never-ending chores of motherhood.
To be sure, there are moments of joy and recognition that these mothers drink up like a cool glass of water on a hot summer day in the dessert. But they believe most of their time and work is uneventful, uninteresting and unimportant.
They couldn’t be more wrong. When I think of the value of what they do, I think of the Karate Kid movie, circa 1984. In particular, I imagine the scene where Daniel is complaining to his karate teacher, Mr. Miyagi, that he hasn’t learned any karate and that all he’s done so far is free labor for Mr. Miyagi. Then Mr. Miyagi has Daniel show him the motions for painting the fence. Daniel moves his arms up and down in the motion Mr. Miyagi told him to use for painting the fence. Mr. Miyagi then teaches Daniel that this motion is a defensive block in karate. Mr. Miyagi goes on to reveal to Daniel that washing the cars and waxing them in the specific motions also built up strength in Daniel’s arms and built neural pathways in his mind for these very specific moves that are also defensive movements in karate.
These seemingly mundane actions were actually powerful moves Daniel needed to know to protect himself in a fight. And he learned it all without even thinking about it or trying to learn, just going through the monotonous motions until it became like second nature to him, until he could do the motion instinctively. He also built up the increased strength to provide power to sustain and enforce the motion.
Motherhood is similar in that the tasks mothers do for their children build up character, wisdom and understanding in their children which builds a strong foundation for their children to stand on throughout the rest of the child’s life. The chores of motherhood build up strength in their children that will protect the child in life.
When mothers wipe bottoms, change diapers, wipe up spit-up and do other cleaning-the-kid tasks, they are teaching their children that God cares about their messes and will clean them up and make them new again each time they turn to Him.
When mothers feed their children, they are teaching their children that God knows their needs and provides for them.
When mothers comfort their children when they are crying or hurt, these mothers teach their children that God is compassionate, a comforter, that he cares about their feelings and that he is always with them no matter what they are going through.
Another thing that mothers teach their children by the mother’s behavior is how to treat other people. When a mother is compassionate, attentive, responsive, honorable and affectionate to her child, she is teaching her child how to interact with people.
She also teaches her children social skills by how she interacts with other adults and how she speaks about the other adults when they are not around.
I could go on for a very long time about all the powerful ways that mothers reveal who God is to their children through the mother’s actions. But I believe that you get the idea from this sampling of examples.
Everything a mother does impacts her child and teaches her child about God and about relationships. Nothing a mother does is insignificant, unimpactful or unimportant. It is all critical in teaching the child in the way they should go (See Proverbs 22:6).
In the books of Kings in the Bible, many of the kings of Judah and Israel are introduced in this way:
1) the king’s name
2) the king’s age
3) how long the king reigned
4) his mother’s name
5) where she was from and
6) whether the king did good or evil in the eyes of the Lord
What I believe this tells us is that it was the mother who influenced the character of the king. That is no small thing. The impact of the king’s character affected the entire kingdom over which he ruled. When the king did evil, the people were oppressed and under attack from their enemies. But when the king did good and served the Lord, the people were blessed, the land was blessed, they had victory over their enemies and the kingdom flourished.
Now that we are under the New Covenant, we are sons and daughters of God, royalty in the Kingdom. Whether we do good or evil in the eyes of God has an impact on our spheres of influence and on all those connected to our lives. Our character matters. And it’s our mothers who have the greatest opportunity to lead us in the ways of the Lord. In God’s eyes, motherhood is very big deal.
For any who know me, this may seem like a strange article from a daughter who was abused by her mother. But it’s not really. I know full well how much my mother influenced my character, shaped my relationship skills and informed me about who God is. My mother’s teaching in all these areas was evil. I’ve had to learn how to trust the Lord and allow Him to do a mighty work in me in order to realign my character. I’ve suffered many evils from my mother’s teachings. I have much to grieve for all that she stole from me. I’ve had to fight more battles than I care to recall in order to be where I am today. I needed my mother, but she rejected me.
I believe that a good and godly mother can have the same powerful impact on her child’s life that my ungodly mother had on mine. I believe this because it’s inherent in how the Lord wired us as mothers and children. Mothers teach. Children learn. It’s who we are and what we do. The choice mothers have is in what and how to teach their children. The choice children have is when they become adults to examine what their mother taught them in light of the Lord’s love. If it is good teaching, the adult child can choose to keep it. If it is bad teaching, then let go of the bad teaching, process the harm, forgive the offense and let the Lord heal the wound.
I want to be sure to clarify that I do not wish to put any undue burden on mothers to be perfect. Not one of us is. We all make mistakes and do sinful things. The important thing is cling to the Lord in all things – in motherhood, in forgiveness, in teaching, in learning, in growing and in becoming more like Him. My purpose in sharing my thoughts on motherhood, karate and Kingdom character is to honor the value, importance and vital impact that mothers have on their children, the world and God’s Kingdom.
Here’s a poem I wrote as I pondered writing this article and the heart of the value of motherhood:
I charge you, women of Yahweh
To arise each day
With a holy fire
Burning in your eyes
Set your face like flint
To paint the fence
With Mama Bear vengeance
Fight for the hearts of your children
Though your work may seem mundane
Do it for His holy name
Even if no one sees
Know that He is pleased
Your efforts are not in vain
You bring glory to His name
So, wax on and wax off
You Kingdom Mommas!