On an almost daily basis, I hear from moms who are excited about the direction their home life is taking, but also from those who are greatly discouraged with it. The potential we have as mothers, within the small boundaries of our homes, to impact and influence those we love the most, plus future generations, is staggering. However, we also hold within our hands the choice to fritter away that potential and, later, look back on these years with regret.
In Titus 2, verses 4 and 5, the older women are admonished to teach the younger women to “be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.” As I read both types of e-mails I receive, I am coming to wonder if it might not be that those who are experiencing excitement are choosing to yield, learn, and grow in these areas of priority given to us as women. Perhaps those who are discouraged are choosing to give in to their negative thoughts—to feel sorry for themselves, their failures, and the situations that cause them.
It appears that two main areas are critical to the success or defeat we experience in these critical responsibilities the Lord Jesus has given to us as wives and mothers. The first is “what will I do with my mind?” and the second is “what will I do with my time?” Since it starts with our thoughts and moves to our actions, I want to begin by considering what we do with our minds and how that impacts not only our lives but also our children’s lives.
Here is the reality of what often happens in the daily life that we so much desire to be picture perfect.
“Sometimes it is just so hard with the young ones. My oldest is eight years, and my youngest is almost a year. I have become very easily frustrated with them lately. This is something that I really need to pray about. It is time for me to make some changes. I do spend too much of my time on the computer. Some days I just feel as though I just cannot do it so I pop in a video or send the children outside, and I sit on the couch staring at the computer. I have just given up. How sad for me to be that way. I do not want to give up.” A Discouraged Mom (used with permission)
You can probably relate to “A Discouraged Mom,” if not with her exact struggles then with ones that are similar. As these situations occur, pile up, and continue, “A Discouraged Mom” retreats to her negative thoughts of defeat and finds refuge in the computer. The problem is that this simply fuels the vicious cycle of discouragement in which she lives, but as she indicates, she does not want it to be this way.
Romans 6 gives us direction out of the cycle of discouragement. As you read these verses, pay particular attention to the word “yield.” “Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God” (Romans 6:13). “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” (Romans 6:16) “I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness” (Romans 6:19).
I have a choice set before me concerning that to which I will yield. As long as I allow the negative, it’s-too-hard, poor-me thoughts, God doesn’t “zap” me with peace, joy, and contentment. I must yield myself to righteousness—to the truth of His Word. When I yield to righteousness, these are the kinds of thoughts I will think, and the result is peace, joy, and contentment: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13). “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing” (James 1:2-4).
“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). This verse tells me that God does not remove the temptation from my life. In this case, the temptation is to dwell on the problems and negative thoughts. Rather than keeping temptation away, He gives a way of escape. I decide whether I will take the way of escape or not. Personally, I believe the way of escape for this temptation is in choosing to think right thoughts—thoughts of the truth of God’s Word.
When I take the way of escape, when I yield to righteousness, then I provide my children with a pleasant mommy, one who is characterized by the fruit of the Spirit: “. . . love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (Galatians 5:22-23). When I dwell on my negative thoughts, I become more discouraged and more unhappy with my bad attitudes, which affect not only me but also my family. The example I am setting for my children influences how they will respond to the difficulties and trials they experience now as children and later in their adult lives. They can observe me in stressful daily situations either dealing with them by yielding to righteousness or yielding to my “comfort” activities, food, or environment.
What will I do with my mind? Will I yield to righteousness? Will I take the way of escape? Will I be focused on myself and how hard it is to do whatever I am supposed to be doing? Will I dwell on how it doesn’t come naturally to me? Will I think about how I don’t feel like doing it? Will I be focused on the Lord Jesus and obedience to His Word? The choice is mine, and the choice is yours. I expect those moms who write to me and are excited about their home life have determined what they are doing with their minds—yielding to righteousness.