Freedom in Christ – to Christ, really – is a major theme in my devotional life this year. I’ve seen God bring it to my attention time and time again. Even as I was reading in 1 John this morning and thinking through some of Kimm Crandall’s book Christ in the Chaos, the theme came to the forefront. So, I wanted to talk about freedom from something – the Mommy Laws.
As a relatively new mom (I have two under 18 months), these laws are something that are new to me personally, but not something I was completely oblivious to before I became a mom. You may be asking yourself, “What are the ‘Mommy Laws’?” There may not be a written code organized by any governing authority, but there are many unwritten laws that change from community to community, family heritage to family heritage, and mommy to mommy. First let me say, the Mommy Laws I am talking about are not in the Bible. They are not infallible or inerrant. The Bible talks about the privileges of being a Mommy and how we are to point our children to Christ.
Here are a few of the ideas that can be construed as Mommy Laws – but even though you may not struggle with any of these, I’m sure you have some of your own:
Diapers will only last until your child is potty-trained. Do you cloth diaper or use disposable diapers? Does it really cost less to do one or the other, or do you do it based on convenience or how much you want to protect the environment? In some cultures and communities, what a mom decides on this one topic can allow her to be included or excluded in some play groups.
What you feed your child is not the most important thing. Breastfeeding works for some and not for others. But, whether you use the breast or the bottle or a little bit of both or when you start feeding table food and if it’s organic or grain fed or local – doesn’t matter. It is choice. Yes you do need to think about what you give your child to eat because all we eat or drink should be done to the glory of God.
Education is a choice. I know of a pastor and his family who decide each year, based on the life of their family and the personality and needs of each individual child, what schooling they will do that year. There are some Christian cultures that will not let you be a part of it unless you homeschool. There is wisdom in knowing what schooling option will be best for your family. You can still practice the art and obedience of Deuteronomy 6 no matter what schooling option you choose.
Skinny Jeans will go out of style. You don’t have to wake up every day and look like you stepped out of a magazine. You don’t have to lose all your baby weight by your child’s first birthday. You don’t have to take selfies with your hair all done and makeup perfectly applied – or feel horrible that you don’t do that. Neither of these make you a better mom.
SAHM is not a bad word. But, being a working Mom is ok now too. I know many moms who work outside the home and still make their families their top priority. I know women in the homes all day who don’t make their families their top priority. The Bible is not explicit as to what to do. The only thing it is clear on is that Mothers and wives are to make their homes and their families their top priority. Side note: the Bible is clear that one of the main priorities of the husband is to provide for his family. But, there may be seasons that the wife has to work part time or even full time for a season in extreme circumstances. God will give you family and you must be led of the Holy Spirit in these matters. Counsel from elders or other godly friends will spur you on to love and good deeds.
Ok, still some of these Mommy Laws may not make sense. Allow me to broaden it. The Mommy Laws are anything you feel you must do, pressures put on you from external societal norms or internal focus, that says, “If I do ______, then I will be a good Mom.” It is a form of legalism and idolatry. Neither of which belong in a Christian’s life.
So, how do we break our bondage to sin with strict adherence to these Mommy Laws? The good news is that the bondage has already been eternal won for us. Christ, with his perfect life, death on the cross, and miraculous resurrection, paid the penalty to free us from the captivity to sin. Now, we must stand firm in that, believe God in what He says, and live life according to our newfound freedom.
Worship. Sit down and pray about being a mommy. Meditate and praise that God gave you the ability and this time to be your child’s mother and how much of an amazing ministry and privilege that you have. Confess your weakness and how prone you are to living in bondage to these Mommy Laws. Pour out your heart to the Lord who made you and knows you. He knows what’s in your heart anyway, but it is so good to hear yourself say it (or see it written).
Make a list. What are the Mommy Laws that you adhere to? What laws are you in bondage to? What do you cling to that makes you think you a better mommy than those who don’t do as you do?
Pray over that list. I would encourage you to sit down with your husband and ask him about this list. Does he notice that you feel horrible if your list is not met at the end of each day, or does he notice a sense of failure in his bride? It would be totally freeing to rip up your list. Not throw out everything, but pray that the Lord would right your heart in relation to the items or laws on that list. The very last verse in the little letter of 1 John says “keep yourselves from idols.” This comes after many verses about what identifies us as true children of God. Obviously, we are commanded not to have idols as believers. These Mommy Laws are a form of legalism, which is idolatry. Something we do is going to make us a better person, a better mommy, make my child a better child, or earn better standing in my church, culture, or even to God himself. Idolatry is a matter of the heart.
Claim your freedom. After you have talked with God, talked with your husband, even gotten friends to hold you accountable to the laws on your list… Friend – claim your freedom. Believe God when he says that he freed you from working for your salvation. Nothing you can do or don’t do will earn you a better standing before His throne. And it shouldn’t matter in your community either. In Colossians 2 Paul starts talking about the fact that we are alive to Christ – but then follows it by commanding the Colossian believers not to let anyone disqualify them by secondary issues.
These Mommy Laws are most definitely secondary issues. These are not gospel issues.
Here are ways to live in truth:
Believe God that he sent Jesus to free you from the bondage to these.
In the midst of your chaos, choose to fight the lies of Satan with the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God – knowing that your position in Christ as a Sister, a daughter of the Most High King, is not determined by your adherence to your list of Mommy Laws.
Encourage others who are in a similar situation as you are. Don’t put outrageous expectations on her but encourage her to love the Word, seek Jesus, and do what she can to love her family and her Jesus.
Encourage Moms-to-be. I love Moms on either end of the spectrum regarding the “Mommy Laws” I talked about above. So, talk about your story, share ideas with expectant moms, especially if they ask, but don’t force your way of life on her. Encourage her creativity and freedom in Christ to love her children well.
Don’t compare. I spend a lot of time on social media. Looking at Instagram and Pinterest and other blogs will mostly encourage creativity and foster a desire to do and be and live and love. But there are some days that it fosters a discontent heart. On those days, I don’t throw out the computer or quit doing anything with social media. I pray. I write. I look into the face of my husband and little boys and see their blue eyes and dimples staring back at me…and love them and pray for God to work in my heart. Thankful on those days for verses like 1 John 3.20, “For whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart!” Thankful that He knows my heart and He is the only one who can change my heart in regard to these Mommy Laws.
Sing and worship and stand in freedom. God is not the Mommy Law police, and neither are we.