Sunday, May 10, 2009

POV on motherhood

Sarah’s baby shower
May 9

Quite some years ago, I heard a talk, the basis of which was that a happy marriage requires a bloodless martyrdom. Only then do we know happiness.The phrase and the concept have intrigued me ever since that hour aired. I pondered it for some time and realized that this is a very Scriptural idea. I have also tried to view motherhood as a life of bloodless martyrdom. It has lead to happiness but even more, it has lead to knowing Jesus more deeply. I put it out here today for your consideration, Sarah.
Not all of us are called to martyrdom in the classical sense of the word. Not all of us are called to follow the footstep of apostles and the like and acutally shed blood and die. But all of us are called to become consistent witnesses of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Each time we elect life over death it is a bloodless martyrdom. Each time we opt for good over evil, it is a bloodless martyrdom. Each time we practice grace over sin, or choose heaven over hell its also bloodless martyrdom. Each time we choose others over self we choose a bloodless martyrdom.
For some, this may just be a paradigm shift – an adjustment of perspective on life. For some, this may sound a bit melodramatic or extreme. I think not. Martyrdom is defined as suffering and death. OK. That sounds extreme!! But motherhood is an extreme relationship. It requires a certain kind of death. As mothers, to what must we die?? …..
None of us shed blood over the things to which we die. in We die to our need or desire for sleep. Time is not our own. We die to privacy. We die to our ideas of what motherhood will be like! We die to our ideas of what each of our children will be like – and this is a big one! God has His own call on our children’s lives – His plans for them. As mothers, in partnership with our husbands, we need to help them know that. We must not make them “LITTLE US’s”. We die to the kind of freedoms to which we are accustomed. We die to the way we spend money. There are many other deaths to die as a mother.
What is the reason for the martyrdom? It is not to look heroic and inspire others to pity us. It is not to ingratiate our children to us. We do not parade our martyrdom in front of others.
Rather, martyrdom furthers the kingdom. The saying goes – the blood of the saints waters the seed of Scripture. What you will do for Guenivere and her siblings must illustrate Scripture in flesh and blood; you must bring the kingdom of God to them in word, deed and very often, in sacrifice.
How is this concept Scriptural? Romans 12 opens with a discussion of us getting up on the altar and offering ourselves as sacrifices to God – which is our REASONABLE service!! I once heard a speaker on this passage. He said that the failure of the Christian is that we are always crawling OFF the altar. Stay on the altar!! The writer is describing a bloodless martyrdom. In the end, what you are already doing and will continue to do for Guenivere, you are doing for God in real time.
The chapter closes with a series of imperative statements. Each imperative tells us to DO something – by definition, we are also being told NOT to do something else – we are to exchange one attitude in favor of another. In some cases, he even states the opposites. My definition of martyrdom a few minutes is an echo the exchanges we make in these imperatives. I highlight a few – look up the text for the whole idea:

Love one another. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another, Honor one another above yourselves… Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony…. Do not be proud, but …. associate with people of low position. Be humble. ...

Most of these are counter-intuitive. Each of these illustrates an exchange of one attitude, one behavior, for another. Therein lies the martyrdom. You must die to what you think you want now to get what you really want now - and later. You will exchange your life as you know it now for a different life. You have already begun this. You don’t drink “adult beverages” now because little Guenivere depends on you to keep her healthy. You have given up space in the house for her. You already have a different view on how to spend the money you have today and the money you will have in the future. You have already given her your body as her first home. You will continue to give her your body as you feed her, as you hold her when you are tired and she is not. You have already given up hours of sleep and will continue to do so for yet a little while. You have already begun to sacrifice yourself for Guenivere.
You will have the joy of making many other sacrifices for her. YES! There is a joy in sacrifice because it comes from a place of willingness (or it should!), from love. These sacrifices, these deaths will bond you to her. They will cause you to be grateful for your own mother who did much for you. They will illustrate Jesus to all who live in and visit in your home - did He not give His riches to us, give up His home for us, give His body and His very life for us!! These sacrifices, this bloodless martyrdom will draw you deeper and deeper into Himself. Done well, this life of bloodless martyrdom will make you more beautiful.
Don't look to me or anyone in this room or anyone you know as a measure of whether or not this is worth it or whether or not it works..... Look to Jesus. He is where all questions are answered, all doubts are settled. His life well illustrates the point.
Without developing a whole other talk - don’t sacrifice Aaron along the way!! He must remain your focus. It will be tricky but God will give you the grace and creativity you need.
But that is not where my thoughts took me for today. It is, however, part of that martyrdom – to increase the sphere of giving of yourself.
God bless you Sarah.
and thank you for the pictures - again - Sarah R.


  1. Marci,
    Thank you again for such wonderful words of encouragement and blessing. Your insight gives me strength and reminds me of who I am and who I should be.
    Much love for you always, Michele =D

  2. Great job Marci and thank you for posting it. Reminds me of one of my favorite quotes-- illustrated by Christ, a picture of what the Christian life should look like and a perfect reminder for mothers:

    My Life For Yours.

  3. Marci, I came over from the animator's wife. I am a friend of Sarah R. I just wanted to thank you for posting this. It is beautiful and truly edifying. Parenting is not always easy...but I am reminded again and again, it is a privilege I am so thankful for.

  4. Marci, as I sit hear after having read your post again I have to go to the cross,for I have not been any of these things today, however the day is still young. I will now get off this time trap and go rescue my one year old, crying for me to come and feed her, and my three year old, from "himself."

    Happy Mother's Day, Everyday.
    Love G

    Thanks Marci for the encouragement.