“You just may not be in a season of life where you can serve right now.”
This well-meaning, godly woman's advice to a room full of wives and mothers caused a little pang in my heart.
There is obviously a wealth of truth in that well-worn statement. I've been there. I know. I remember so clearly one evening soon after my daughter was born, my mother-in-law lovingly pushed my husband and me out the door for some time alone while she held our newborn. We slid into a booth at a '50s diner on the beach, eyes glazed over from sleep deprivation, both sporting matching spit-up stains on our shoulders.
This season of life was not conducive to anything beyond barely keeping my head about water.
How Long Should That Season Last?
Now almost 19 years since that day, I wonder about the shifts in our culture and what that season looks like today for parents who are living in the Pinterest era of parenting. From the moment of conception, our babies must have the pomp and circumstance due a monarch. You throw a party to announce you're expecting, a gender reveal party, a minimum of three baby showers, all graced with perfectly handcrafted decorations to capture your theme. Finally, the birth. Newborn, three-month, six-month, and twelve-month professional photo shoots. Year one birthday party? That was already planned before the kid was even born.
When toddler season arrives, craft days, themed play dates, spectacular birthdays, and multiple sport seasons will be carefully planned, then documented on Facebook, pinned on Pinterest, and joyfully tweeted for other mothers to follow, admire, and emulate.
Hear me when I say that none of those things is in and of themselves wrong or harmful. But I would like to pose the question: Is it possible that all of this work contributes not only to a dangerously child-centered home, but also to a season of life that simply never ends? We're no longer talking about a brief season in a tired mom's life but a life focus that leaves little to no room for being deeply connected to a local church body.
What Are We Saying We're too Busy For?
When we look at Scripture, being deeply connected and serving a church body is both less and also infinitely more than what our modern day ideas of “serving” the church often resemble.
Paul gives us an idea in the book of Titus, as women are called to “teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self controlled, pure, working at home, kind and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled” (Titus 2:3-5).
From a single woman to a grandmother, different stages of life will certainly mean that Paul's exhortation will be uniquely walked out as we love others, point them to Christ, and serve one another. However, my concern is that in our frantic race for a perfectly lovely and carefully crafted childhood, we opt out and grab the “busy season” card over and over as the years fly by. And our “busy season” turns into a lifetime.
Reducing our definition and understanding of serving to a programatic duty box to check off, and one that divorces serving the body of Christ from our daily lives, deprives our children of the beautiful lesson of what serving each other truly means. How valuable would it be for a toddler to watch her mom regularly open her home to younger mothers and college students, or host a weekly community group that fellowships, prays, and eats together? Think of those precious lessons they would learn about serving.
Scripture tells us that we are to teach our children the Word of God as we are sitting in our house, when we are walking by the way, when we lie down, and when we rise (Deut. 6:7). When we order our lives in such a fashion that our children’s comfort and delight becomes the life focus of a family, how then do we teach those children how they are to “take up their cross daily”? Where do they see the joy in serving others? How will they watch the “one another's” in Scripture being fleshed out in daily living?
As a church-planting wife in a youthful church, I have the opportunity to listen to many young wives and mothers. Over and over, I hear the same thing. They are tired. They are discouraged. They lack joy. They are deep in that “busy season” but don't see a clear road for this season to ever end.
Are we setting ourselves up for isolation and bone-deep fatigue by constructing a life that will simply lead to one lifelong busy season? Pose this question to those who love you and know you best. Listen to them. And be willing, by God’s grace, to take the hard steps to correct course.