A wise mother stated, “Once labor begins, it never ends.” Labor for me began 27 years ago, eighteen hours before our firstborn entered this world. She was a beautiful baby, perfectly knit together in my womb, crafted by her Creator. And with her first cry, everything I thought I knew about being a mom unraveled, and I never felt more inadequate for anything in my entire life.
That feeling hasn’t gone away. Maybe there are some moms who feel like they are knocking it out of the park and that their kids are the luckiest offspring on earth, but that’s not the case for me. I have messed up in more ways than I care to mention, and remember many days when I would lay my head on the pillow and ask God to erase my children’s memory of that day. I realize that I’m my biggest critic, but maybe there are other moms that can relate.
There are so many stories about mothers in the Bible, some I can relate to and others I can’t even imagine. A mother who birthed mankind, a mother who hid her baby in a basket by the river, mothers who buried children, played favorites, raised prophets and priests, and a young mother who birthed the Savior of the world. But the story that touches my mothering heart isn’t about a mother at all. It’s found in Mark 9:12-17. The Message Bible tells it like this:
As the day declined, the Twelve said to Jesus, “Dismiss the crowd so they can go to the farms or villages around here and get a room for the night and a bite to eat. We’re out in the middle of nowhere.”
“You feed them,” Jesus said.
They said, “We couldn’t scrape up more than five loaves of bread and a couple of fish—unless, of course, you want us to go to town ourselves and buy food for everybody.” (There were more than five thousand people in the crowd.)
But he went ahead and directed his disciples, “Sit them down in groups of about fifty.” They did what he said, and soon had everyone seated. He took the five loaves and two fish, lifted his face to heaven in prayer, blessed, broke, and gave the bread and fish to the disciples to hand out to the crowd. After the people had all eaten their fill, twelve baskets of leftovers were gathered up.
As I read these words, I hear Jesus say to me, “You feed them.” I have made thousands of bottles and thousands of meals for my children over the years, but that’s been the easy part. Feeding mouths is one thing, feeding souls is another. Most days I feel like one of the disciples scraping together a few morsels, and offering it to the Messiah saying “This is all I have and I know it’s not enough.” But Jesus takes our insufficient and turns it into abundance with leftovers to boot! Thank you, Jesus!
I don’t know who penned the following words, but they were taped to my refrigerator for many years and I have prayed them often. If you are a mom, I would encourage you to pray them as well.
“Lord, you know my inadequacies. You know my weaknesses, not only in parenting, but in every area of my life. I am doing the best I can to raise my kids properly, but it may not be good enough. As you broke the fish and the loaves to feed 5,000 hungry people, now take my meager effort and use it to bless my family. Multiply it as only you can. Make up for the things I do wrong. Satisfy the needs I have not met. Compensate for my blunders and mistakes. Wrap your great arms around my children and draw them close to you. And be there when they stand at the great crossroads between right and wrong. All I can give them is my best and I will continue to do that. I submit them to you now, and rededicate myself to the task You have placed before me. The outcome rests securely in your hands, Lord.”
Laboring with the Lord, Erin Jacobsma