I lived in the Philippines for a few years as a teen. I worked in an orphanage over there and became “mommy-Pau” to some sweet little girls who lived with me at the time. There were many aspects to my work there, but the orphanage was one of the main things I focused on. During my time there and even shortly thereafter, I was often referred to as a “full-time missionary” or “full-time minister”. I loved my time overseas and could fill books with stories of the joys and pains I experienced during my time there.
I have been back in the States for over four years now, I’m married and I have two biological children of my own. Since I have come back here and started caring for my own family I’ve heard some strange comments. People have said things like “what happened to you? … you used to be so mission-minded” or “when are you going to start doing ministry again?” and various other forms of the same questions. Now that I am home in America, I am no longer considered to be doing “ministry”. The first time some one asked me one of these questions I was completely taken off guard but the more I thought about it, the more I realized it was a silly thing to ask!
Why is it considered ministry to care for two children in the Philippines, but caring for my own two children is not even worth mentioning?
Let’s compare for a moment my life as a missionary in the Philippines to my life as a mother in America.
When I was there I washed the girls clothes, played with them, helped them with homework & stayed up with them half the night when they were afraid.
Now, I wash my children’s clothes/diapers, I play with them, teach them new things, I get up mulitple times a night to care for them both…
it looks strangely similar doesn’t it?
When I was overseas I took care of the ministry budget and here I work our family budget.
There I was an assistant teacher in the school and here I’ve worked in preschools and daycares.
I taught the children there about Jesus and I loved them with every ounce of my being and here, I do the same with Little Man and Princess.
There are many more things that I could compare but the point is – why is one seen as ministry and the other not?
When I was overseas a lot of people respected me because of the work I was doing there. Since coming home I’ve had people look down on me for “quitting” ministry to “just” be a wife and mother. And it’s just plain sad.
Being a wife and mama is what God has called me to be. A wife to my own husband and a mama to my own children. To the world, that’s not nearly as glamorous as caring for neglected children overseas, but it’s just as needed and meaningful a life. Neither task is more “important” than the other, both can be done for the glory of God and He is pleased with both sacrifices.
So for now, I’m content to be “just” a mommy and wife. This is my God-given mission for this season of life, and I love it. My family is my first ministry and it will always be no matter what other ministry opportunities come my way in the future. But for now, I am focusing on the ministry set before me. The ministry of family.
In terms of influence, the problem is not that most Christians aren’t where they should be, but that they aren’t what they should be where they are. – O. S. Guinness
Do you struggle with guilt at not doing “enough”? What do you do to remember that motherhood IS a ministry?