Wednesday, April 19, 2017

When we idolize the sacrifice in motherhood

I remember one time, when I was about 10 or 11, I was lugging my basket of laundry across the house so that I could go wash it. While I was doing this, one of my mom's friends arrived, and I made a show about heaving and pulling this basket so that I could go wash my clothes. It was one of those moments where I wanted the world to see what a dutiful, hardworking little girl I was just for doing one of my chores. Thankfully, I can look back on this memory and sigh about how silly and vain I was. Yet, I then realize how I often still act like this-and I can't stand it.

There are those days when, as I go about my work, I begin to mentally create a litany of everything that I do and how challenging my life is and how hard I work. Of course, I don't want to advertise all this to the wider population. After all, how does that embody the spirit of humility that Christ calls us to? But, this does not keep me from creating this list in my mind. If only I know all of these things, what's the harm in it?  

Chore after chore, dish after dish, the pieces of my little list pile up until they become a towering pedestal of self-sacrifice that I've undergone. Whenever I'm having a difficult time, I can take refuge in thinking about this little idol that I've created. I find comfort in all the ways in which I have worn myself to the bone because I'm such a "good woman" and "such a martyr."  

There are also those times when I will slave away without asking for help. This is part of my job AND it's part of my "daily sacrifice," so I need to do everything myself, I'll think. And so I grumble and groan and keep building up my tower of sacrifices so that I can admire how much "good" I've done. 

Am I really living out the humility that we are called to? 

I think not. 

Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but [also] everyone for those of others. ~Phil 2:3-4

Instead of compiling a list of all of the hard work that I've been doing throughout my days, wouldn't it be better to offer my work to God as a prayer? 

Instead of taking refuge in this idol of my accomplishments, wouldn't it be better to take refuge in God?  

Instead of pridefully wanting to "do it all" myself, wouldn't it be better to humbly ask my husband for help? 


  1. I'm totally guilty of this. I especially want my husband to see just how hard I work and all I "give up" to care for our girls.
    Great reminder, AnneMarie. You've given me some things to pray about.

    1. Thank you so much, Shannon. I think it is so easy to fall into this! I try to remind myself every day that my husband does tons of difficult work at his job, and that helps me not throw myself pity parties as often (though it still does happen at times)

  2. Oh this is so good! I do this too, and then I feel awful about it.

  3. Amen! There really is no good purpose or result from "building up my tower of sacrifices", is there? I also sometimes find myself wanting to list out all of the things I do in a day, in a complaining "how much work I have to do" sort of way--but that's when I remind myself how, truly, I wouldn't have it any other way. I'm blessed to be doing work that is exactly where my heart is--and who knows how long I'll have the privilege of being able to do these tasks?

    1. It's so nice to hear that you can relate! Such a good point that it's a privilege to do these things-that we're healthy and able to make food and run a household.