Audrey Broggi is fantastic! This post was written by her on her Facebook page.
I pulled out an old dusty journal. I had started it in March of my junior year in college and it carried me through many emotions of that spring: my relationship with my parents, my classes, friends, a young man, my job, the following summer, and the beginning of my senior year in college when Carl began to pursue me and my whole world changed. And, of course, when I logged all those thoughts, I never dreamed that many years later I would still have the little brown journal allowing me to so freely visit those times in my life. One entry finds me praying for people I don’t even remember now — like Mr. Tommy. Who is Mr. Tommy?
I prayed for the salvation of two girls named Joyce and Margaret — fellow students with whom I would share Christ. I thanked God for giving me the courage to give up a relationship. God has been faithful. I prayed about my possible future as a missionary — I had so many hopes and dreams but more than anything, I just wanted God to use me. Enter Carl. Enter confusion in my life as I tried to sort out all of my mixed up emotions and wonderings about the spirituality of those emotions. I finally told Carl I would marry him and then suddenly I found myself writing about wanting a family. And this is what I wrote:
“Jan. 23: Oh Father, I’ve been thinking about a family lately and I do desire to have one. My own children– godly offspring– for your glory. Is this a desire from you? I do desire to mother some little ones.”
That was the next-to-last entry I made in that little brown journal. Carl and I were married the following June. And then came our children. But the funny thing to me is that I asked the Lord if the desire to have children, to want a family, was from Him.
At the very heart of God is the role of wife and mother. Obviously not every woman will get married and not every woman will become a mother. But marriage and accepting the children God brings is the pattern of Scripture ~ it is the norm. When God sets apart some women to be single for Him and/or childless, it is for His glory. These women are no less valuable to Him. They have a unique place in the kingdom of God. But because our society has exalted singleness and childlessness beyond the bounds of Scripture and because we refuse to have children for all kinds of reasons ~ women are made to feel that the God-given longing to get married and bear children is somehow “not very intelligent.”
The culture has made women feel that wanting to get married and bear children should be the exception. This is simply not the heart of God. But my generation was incredibly shaped by the culture. I was told by my guidance counselor in high school that I was too smart not to pursue a career over marriage and family. My generation was one where young girls were not given too many godly role models of mothers who were satisfied in their God-given calling.
The push for my generation was to find a career and to be successful in that — and if you had time you could have a few children, if you could fit it into your schedule and find the appropriate childcare situation. And even though I was reared in a good Christian home, I can see now that the cultural trends were having a far greater impact on Christian families than the church was. Christianity was somehow losing its effectiveness and power and it became increasingly difficult to tell the difference between believers and nonbelievers. Sound teaching was hard to find because churches began to succumb to the culture by teaching so as not to “offend” anyone.
In 2 Timothy 2, Paul tells Timothy to “preach the word, . . . for the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths.”
My generation of moms have certainly seen this! And look at the myths we’ve accepted! If there are not enough godly women who will teach and train the next generation of moms sound doctrine as it relates to motherhood, home and family according to Titus 2, the trend to accept “myths” will continue.
What are some of these myths anyway? I believe one of the most pervasive is the myth of significance. Let me illustrate:
One spring day, while eating lunch with my children, I was mesmerized by a new talk show on the television screen as it played loudly throughout the restaurant. It was hosted by a woman who began the program by announcing that she had two very special female guests on her show that day. The guests were, as she stated, “ordinary” moms who “had risen above the routine to become something significant.” There’s the first myth – ordinary motherhood is not significant. Significance comes when you rise above it.
She went on to reveal that these two women had something in common with most women today. She said, “Most women admire and consider ____________ to be one of their role models.” There’s the second myth – this woman is a role model for most women.
But apart from her assumption that __________ was a role model for American women, I was bothered that the guests on the show thought so little of motherhood that they felt the need to rise above it. How about rising up to it?
And I begin to think.
Perhaps one would see mothering and managing a home as insignificant when it is not carried out as God intended it. I know as a little girl in the ‘60s, all I wanted was to one day be a mommy of six children. But as I think about the moms I knew when I was a small child in that redefining decade of the ‘60s, I saw many moms beginning to pursue “something significant” other than home and family. And those who were home didn’t seem to view it as significant — they were just there, filling their days with who knows what.
Even though I was so young, I have since read quotes by some of the influencers of those days: like Betty Friedan in The Feminine Mystique (1963) where she wrote:
“It was a strange stirring, a sense of dissatisfaction, a yearning that women suffered in the middle of the twentieth century in the United States. Each suburban wife struggled with it alone. As she made the beds, shopped for groceries, matched slipcover materials, ate peanut butter sandwiches with her children, chauffeured Cub Scouts and Brownies, lay beside her husband at night, she was afraid to ask even of herself the silent question — ‘Is this all?’”
No, it’s not all. God created women with meaning and purpose and she will never be satisfied ~ fulfilled ~ apart from finding God. But the questioning didn’t start in the “60’s with Betty Friedan. It was a part of life long before that, say 20 years, when novelist Pearl S. Buck wrote in her book, Of Men and Women (1941), about the typical American housewife of her day:
“She listens to as much as they will tell her, she reads as much as she is inclined, she potters about on the fringes of the world which really goes on without her and comforts herself by having a good hot dinner ready at night anyway. It is not enough.”
So now we have decades of women becoming dissatisfied in their traditional role. Perhaps that’s the problem. Traditional is not necessarily biblical. As I read about the typical cultural American housewives of those decades, I would grow dissatisfied too. I want my life to count for much more than matching slipcovers and “pottering about on the fringes of the world.”
Enter my generation whose moms and grandmothers just floated along with the culture. Many of my peers began to question if they even wanted a husband and children. By the time I was a high school senior in 1976, I was asked during a newspaper interview, “Which do you want? A career or a family?” That question has come back to haunt me many times. Perhaps more because of my girlish answer. “ Well, I don’t know, I mean, I really want to be in media — a journalist or a television reporter.”
So, culturally, the ‘60s and ‘70s defined my own personal role models for me at least as far as significance and making my mark were concerned. And they were women of the times: Erma Bombeck and the TV version of Mary Tyler Moore – Mary Richards. I became confused — to say I wanted to only be a wife and mother like my grandmother had sounded fine for a little girl – but for an emerging socially enlightened educated young woman? Hardly. Isn’t it interesting that my new role models were not people I actually knew?
Ultimately, a woman needs to find her fulfillment and significance in God. French physicist Pascal said, “Man searches in vain, but finds nothing to help him, other than to see an infinite emptiness that can only be filled by One who is infinite and unchanging. In other words, it can only be filled by God Himself.” Ideally it seems to me that if a mother really understands her role as God intended — she will find significance in that role. But in reality, it seems that most moms see themselves just as the television hostess described — insignificant. And I’m afraid that many continue to be insignificant because they spend their days doing nothing to invest in the lives of their own children. They fail to become the significant mothers God intended because they follow the world’s foolishness!!
And the saddest thing of all to me is that even in the church, women are pursuing Christian careers. Believers are abandoning their homes, husbands, and children for ministry careers. This grieves my heart. What are we saying to our children? What are we doing? How is it that churches and ministries can endorse and encourage mothers to leave their homes ~ the very place God has assigned specially to women? Ministry is not something we abandon the home to do. Ministry grows out of the context of the home. So many women ministry leaders and self-defined Bible teachers cannot faithfully teach Titus 2, 1 Timothy 2, or 1 Timothy 5 because they do not live it. Oh how much we need Christian wives and mothers to live it and then teach it.
Our challenge as believing women is to think biblically, not culturally or traditionally, about our role. Do we really understand how much we can influence our homes, our neighborhoods, our churches, our cities, and ultimately our nation by living quietly as we shape and lovingly care for our own little families, first leading our children to Christ and then providing opportunities to include them as we reach out to the world around us?
Our children need to be a part of telling others about the significance found in Jesus Christ! Do we realize by viewing our mothering through the lenses of God, we will are doing something significant not only for our families, but for the world at large?
I mean, it doesn’t really seem like I am contributing to a strong national defense when I am rocking my baby so he’ll feel secure in the world.
It doesn’t really seem like I’m contributing to welfare reform when I’m helping my child make cookies to sell in the neighborhood so he can know that work equals pay.
It doesn’t really seem like I’m contributing to a trustworthy political climate when I teach a 5-year-old that it is wrong to lie and then I hold him responsible for his actions.
It doesn’t really seem like I’m contributing to safer streets and less crowded jails when I teach my children that hitting other children is wrong and has consequences.
It doesn’t seem like I’m contributing to Social Security and Medicare for the elderly when I give my children opportunities to assist older neighbors on our street without pay.
It doesn’t really seem like I’m contributing to a stronger economy, a better way of education, and a morally responsible society when I’m nurturing my children, answering their questions, having dinner together as a family, putting them to bed, teaching them the things of God, and caring for their souls in the little insignificant things of life.
Insignificant? Perhaps by the world’s standards but hardly by God’s. It seems to me that those mothers who mother with biblical wisdom and purpose as they carry out the day-to-day routines of life have, though perhaps unnoticed and unaccounted for, greater impact for the world’s good than the greatest leader has ever had. The greatest leader had a mother. But it takes a quiet greatness, a spirit whose desire really is to see God’s values prevail regardless of being esteemed by the world as doing something it deems as significant.
Better to do what God deems significant. Imagine the significance God placed on the job of mothering when He laid His Son in the ordinary arms of Mary. ~Audrey Broggi
Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.