Mom On Duty

by Laura Hartley

There is a general, widely-known consensus that Mom is always "on duty." Mom is a taxi who never gets to turn out her light. Mom is an officer, a keeper of the peace who doesn’t get to hang up her belt when she walks through the door. Mom is a nurse, a maid, a counselor and a cook all at the same time. Mom knows what needs to be done and she does it. Sure, there are times when she walks by toys on the floor that need to be picked up, or leaves a pile(s) of folded clothes on the living room sofa, or compacts the trashcan by hand a few times to keep from taking it out, but the point is, no one needs to ask Mom to do what needs to be done. Mom already knows. She knows where every item in her home is or at the very least, where that item belongs.

For Moms, I feel like it can also sometimes be difficult to separate ourselves from our duties. Who would you be, how would you spend your time, if you didn’t have all these little people to look after? When our thoughts are focused on our duties, it can be easy to find ourselves looking to the future, looking for days when our families are more independent and we will have less work to do. Maybe for you, the future is not so distant. Maybe you’re just looking forward to bed time so you can watch whatever you want on tv.

When we are looking forward to the days when our kids can drive, or bathe themselves, or when we’re finally finished with diapers, we frequently miss the God given gifts that are right in front of us, here and now.

Right now, in the Domine Community Group, we are walking through Jen Wilkin’s book, None Like Him. It says,

“Looking forward to the future is not wrong in itself. Seeing a future life stage as an escape from the present one is."

Just as moms sometimes focus on the duties from our physical gifts, I feel like our spiritual gifts can easily become our spiritual duties, a box to check off on our to do list. Especially when the newness and excitement wears off and suddenly we find ourselves looking to the future with anticipation… again.

You know when you ask your kid do something, and they huff and groan while they’re doing it. Do you ignore their attitude and find thankfulness that at least they’re doing what you asked? Or do you correct their attitude, and ask them to try again?

Just like I don’t allow my kids to disrespect me, God does not allow me to perform for Him out of duty. He doesn’t want your filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). God wants your heart (Proverbs 23:26).

This Spring, the women’s ministry started a Bible Study called the Gospel Centered Life. I joined that study out of duty. I believed that I needed to be there, not for my own spiritual growth, but so I could support the women who volunteered by filling a seat and so that I could invite visitors or new members to attend. I was already going through two Bible studies, I didn’t need a third, but there were others that needed Bible Study and I couldn’t invite them if I didn’t go myself. It sounds ridiculous, but it’s the truth. And the beautiful thing is that God did not let me stay there. He did not allow me to go to this Bible Study this way. He tugged at my heart in the very first lesson, and by week 8 my jaw was on the floor. All three of my Bible Studies that week pointed me to the same truth...

Solomon in 1 Kings had built a magnificent temple for the Lord, but then he went on building more and more for himself and his own desires, not the Lord’s.

In Gospel Centered Life the author talked about sharing the gospel with his neighbor, “but the sense of ‘should’ had no motivational power. It was law, not gospel. It could show me what I ought to be doing, but it could not change my heart so that I actually wanted to do it.”

And, in None Like Him she quotes Acts 17:24-25:

“The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.”

God is not calling us to live a life that is always on duty. He wants us to rest in Him. He says, “My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways.” Proverbs 23:26

Are you serving your family and your church out of duty or loving overflow of your heart? Are there future milestones in your life and ministry that you are coveting? How does acknowledging this truth change how you serve?

Jen Wilkin says, "…sinful anticipation is quelled by gratitude for the gifts we have been given in the present.”

What gifts will you stop and thank God for right now?

Father God,
You are the Creator of all things, You are self-sufficient. You do not need me to do anything for You. You have given me so many wonderful gifts. I praise you for your loving kindness to me that I do not deserve. Forgive me for looking ahead to the future with a covetous heart. Forgive me for my wrong thinking. Help me to love you with all my heart. Help me to be a good steward  of the gifts that you have given me right now. Help me to let go of my duties and rest in your love. I pray that the love you have for me will overflow and pour out on those around me. In Your Holy Name. Amen.

Laura Hartley and her husband Jared have been married almost 15 years. They have 3 children, Nolan (7), Lily (4) and Hazel (3). They have been members at Crossings for a year. You can follow Laura's writing on her website and you can find her published work HERE.

1 Comment

Huma Khurshid - August 14th, 2023 at 9:53am

Hats off to all the multitasking moms out there! Balancing duty and personal time is no small feat. How do you manage to find moments of self-care amidst your busy schedule?