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Christ in the Chaos: How the Gospel Changes Motherhood
Christ in the Chaos: How the Gospel Changes Motherhood
Kimm Crandall
Cruciform Press, 2013
128 pp., $9.99

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Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe
Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe
Sarah Mae
Thomas Nelson, 2013
240 pp., $16.99

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Freefall to Fly: A Breathtaking Journey Toward a Life of Meaning
Freefall to Fly: A Breathtaking Journey Toward a Life of Meaning
Rebekah Lyons
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2013
224 pp., $19.99

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Leslie Leyland Fields


Are Christian Mothers Human?

Three reports from the battlefield.

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Lyons' approach, like Clarkson and Mae's, is largely experiential and light on theology. While there is plenty to critique about this book, Lyons signals an important way forward for women in the trenches of motherhood. She identifies the same patterns of isolation, fear, and competitive comparison explored in Desperate and Christ in the Chaos, and she encourages the formation of support communities, but these communities have a different focus than the ones suggested by the other authors: "What if communities of women began empowering each other to discover their gifts?" Lyons asks, gifts to be used fearlessly "for the rescue of others"—"others" meaning other than your own children. And one further step: that the family itself, rather than being the sole focus of women's service, could support and assist her in serving others.

While some readers may be astounded that women still need urging and affirmation to develop their gifts both inside and outside the home, they do. They need it desperately. Such a message in no way lessens the value of the family; in fact, it enlarges the value of the family beyond the walls of our own homes to encompass concern for other homes and families.

For women with young children at home, adding other work to their overloaded lives, even when it's called ministry, isn't always possible, but the larger point must not be lost. When women define themselves solely by the fact that they bore children, they will indeed become depressed and desperate. When we are no longer women or human beings, but mothers first and always, we lose in so many ways. We are losing ourselves in our children's lives rather than in Christ's life. We lose our truest identity as children of God, as the redeemed and rescued, as citizens of the city of God, as joint heirs with Christ, as members of Christ's body, as the ones for whom Christ gave his life.

While I hate war as much or more than others, it's time we re-engaged in "The Mommy Wars." Not because it's fun, but because it matters deeply. The desperate housewife saga going on largely invisibly in churches and neighborhoods near you will not abate until we more closely evaluate our theology, our praxis, and the messages we send to women of all ages. If our children's eternal destiny and the fate and direction of history rests on mothers' shoulders, then women and men both will continue to compare and judge each woman's enactments of her motherhood. Such behaviors are contrary to the gospel of Christ. Such a narrow prescription precludes as well the development of women's myriad talents given for the strengthening of the church and its witness in the world. Mothers are full human beings. They're our neighbors. Let's all work at loving them better.

Leslie Leyland Fields is author of "Parenting Is Your Highest Calling": And 8 Other Myths That Trap Us in Worry and Guilt (Waterbrook).

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