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Born for These Unstrange Days

A little over two years ago the winter Olympics were in full swing. We watched when we could, wowed by the training and talent on display by athletes from all over the world. Around that same time we found ourselves facing our own unique Olympics: a middle of the night seizure for our youngest son that wouldn’t stop with rescue meds. As I rode along with him to the ER, my husband tended our four kids at home, one of whom had come down with an ill-timed stomach bug making for a night full of vomit clean-up.

The next morning as I was packing up to bring our son back home, I remembered the words of one of the announcers about a particularly successful Olympian, “She was born to win these Olympics!” As I thought about my husband and myself it seemed obvious, “We were born to endure these nights.” Of course, I didn’t mean that night was easy for us or that we felt particularly equipped or competent to handle the circumstances we were given, but simply that this was what God made us for: to be the parents of these children, to help each other through whatever comes, to cling to Christ in the midst of it, and to lean hard on his Word and his promises.

Fitted for Fiery Trials

As the whole world faces Covid-19 and the many varied trials and challenges that go along with it, our first impulse is often to think something along the lines, “I’m not cut out for this!” How many times have I said, “These are strange days,” in the last month? Yet, I’ve been hearing Peter’s words gently rebuke me, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you” (1 Peter 4:12).

God wants us to be prepared for these trials. He wants us to think of them as un-strange—as the very thing Christians were made for. Whether we live or we die, we are here by the very will of God for such a time as this. Those of us who have already died with Christ can rejoice in times of suffering in so much as we are granted deeper fellowship with Christ through them (1 Pet 4:13). We were created to do good in the midst of suffering because our souls have been entrusted to our Creator (1 Pet 4:19).

So, what does that mean for our mothering in these days of shelter-in-place? How does knowing that our souls are safe with our Maker and that our God has fitted us for trials influence how we nurture our kids?

We get to show our children what it looks like to be daughters of Sarah who do not fear anything that is frightening (1 Pet 3:6).

One of the wonderful things about Scripture is how down-to-earth it is. When we’re told to imitate Sarah, particularly her beautiful submission to Abraham, one of the ways that manifested was in her fearlessness. But, it wasn’t that she was a worry wart, fearing things that weren’t really all that frightening. How do we know? Because the Bible tells us that she didn’t fear anything that was frightening! So, too, for us. We don’t have to fear things that are truly terrifying. We can be at peace, submitted to our own husbands, and submitted to God who is working all for our good.

The Source of a Mother’s Stability

How can we calculate the security and stability a mother passes to her child through her own security and stability? How can we quantify the transfer of fearlessness from parent to kiddo? What does it do to a child’s mind to listen to her mother’s laughter even as they face an uncertain future? How is a child’s heart shaped by the strong voice of his mom singing clear-eyed and resolute about the goodness of God in the midst of a fearful world?When our stability, security, and fearlessness is rooted and growing out of faith in the all-powerful Savior, who made us and loves us, we can trust that he will use it to strengthen our children in ways we don’t fully comprehend. Click To Tweet When our stability, security, and fearlessness is rooted and growing out of faith in the all-powerful Savior, who made us and loves us, we can trust that he will use it to strengthen our children in ways we don’t fully comprehend.

It is very possible, by the grace of God, that our children could be entirely spared the fear of Covid-19 because they had a mother who was unafraid in the Lord. It’s possible that these days of trouble could be remembered by them as part and parcel of a happy childhood. It is also possible that our children will be afraid, regardless of what we model for them. In that case, we remember that the command to, “Fear not!” is in the Bible for a reason and we lead them to our source of fearlessness—our great, powerful, sovereign, and loving God. We remind them that we are weak, but he is strong.

We get to show our children what it looks like to “do good” in the midst of trial.

We’ve often been trained to think of doing good as something we do outside the home. We do good when we bring a neighbor or friend a meal. We do good when we volunteer at church or help out at our kids’ school. We do good when we offer to meet with a friend for coffee and discipleship. We do good when we give money to a missionary or someone in need or a charity. Those are all good things and we should do them, it’s just that many of those ways of doing good are not possible during Covid-19. But that doesn’t mean we can’t still do good.

Created to Do Good

We can do good to our children. It’s a much taller order than doing good to a friend over coffee, isn’t it? Doing good to our children in the midst of being together 24/7 will be harder and cost us more than almost any other type of “doing good.” Why is that? Because these are the people who don’t care about impressing us. These are the people who feel perfectly comfortable being annoying in front of us. We don’t get the “best foot forward” when it comes to our family; we get both feet, forward and backward and every which way. All of us and all of them all the time.

That means that when we do good to our family—when we fix the meals and cheerfully fold the clothes and choose not to freak out about the crunch under our feet in the kitchen––it’s not because we’re going to get some sweet accolades most of the time. When we love them enough to labor in teaching them to make a meal or fold clothes or not freak out about whatever it is they were going to freak out about––it’s not because it earns us brownie points with the cool kids. Doing good to our children at home when nobody sees but them and God is evidence that we are living for something bigger than the immediate feels and likes and peer respect that often drives us. We’re living for rewards a thousand years off—unseen and eternal. Covid-19 is an opportunity to do good to our children so that they can taste and see that the Lord is good. Let’s not let it pass us by.

We get to show our children what it means to be home.

Covid-19 is the great revealer when it comes to our homes. Many of us are spending more time at home than ever before, as are our children. We may be shocked to learn that we don’t really like being home, at least not when everyone else is there, too. Perhaps what we’re discovering is that our homes have been horribly neglected—that the hearts of the people inside our homes are not “at home” at all. They’re gnawing, restless, unhappy, unsettled, and discontented. This is a gracious thing to learn because it means we can begin setting it aright.

Pulling the Curtain Back

We must always start with ourselves. Have we become more “at home” with our friend group or our social media feed or our Netflix watch list or our work than with our actual family in the home God has given us? You see, in a Christian family, Christ is the bonding agent of home—he supernaturally holds together what has naturally been joined. Our Christian homes become little outposts of God’s kingdom––small embassies where his Spirit reigns and rules. Christian homes are ridiculously powerful. They’re powerful because natural affections take on supernatural love. What’s “normal” in a Christian home actually reflects the ultimate norm of who God is and what he has done!

Covid-19 pulls the curtain back on what our homes are really like and it gives us the opportunity to reset. Jesus is King here—that’s normal. We love and obey King Jesus here—that’s normal. God’s word is our life and food here—that’s normal. We do good to one another here––that’s normal. We have been made happy, secure, and fearless in our Savior—that’s normal.

So in these un-strange days of Covid-19, we can say with full confidence, “We were born for these days—born to endure Covid-19. Our souls are safe with our Maker. Our homes are embassies of his Spirit. We are free to do good as Christian mothers whatever the circumstance, whatever the cost.”

Abigail Dodds

Abigail Dodds is a wife, mother of five, and grad student at Bethlehem College & Seminary. She is author of (A)Typical Woman: Free, Whole, and Called in Christ (2019).

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