A couple of weeks ago, Marie Claire magazine ran a story entitled, “Inside the Growing Movement of Women Who Wish They’d Never Had Kids.” The article is filled with testimonials from women who say that motherhood is really, really hard. They say that they are forced to put these little people first, to take care of them, to deal with the “mental clutter” of birthdates and weights and doctors’ appointments and allergies. One 60 year old woman even claimed that having her two children was the biggest regret of her life, adding, “I know my life would have been much happier and more fulfilled without children.”
Another woman describes how she wanted to abort her baby, but didn’t due to family pressure. After years of therapy, she still regrets having become a mother and sees her now 22 year old daughter “growing, exploring, taking off on a whim.” Still, she can’t find joy in seeing her daughter’s independence: “I can’t help but think she’s living my life.”
It all sounds like a scene right out of Mommie Dearest.
Yet, I understand in some respect where these women are coming from. Because, let’s face it: motherhood IS really, really hard. It challenges us in ways that we have never been challenged before. It causes us to experience emotions on levels that we didn’t know existed. Motherhood is the ultimate exercise in dying to self, in laying your life down for a friend.
And, that’s not the kind of thing we’re good at anymore.
Everything about the human mentality changed when, as a whole, we stopped living with the next life in mind and started living for this one. Not so long ago, when the Christian faith was welcomed into most realms of our society, its influence was easily demonstrated in the way that people treated each other. In the value placed on sacrifice, honesty, kindness, forgiveness, mercy, and selflessness.
Eternal things have lost their significance in many hearts and minds, and people are forging ahead through the human experience with “you only live once” as their only mantra. Why do things that are difficult? That make you unhappy? they ask. Boring marriage? End it. Inconvenient pregnancy? End it. Want a girl? Take her. Want something someone else has? Take it. Children cramping your style? Resent them bitterly. Boss disrespecting you? Quit. Someone say something you don’t like? Humiliate them.
The list could go on. As a society we have completely forgotten what goodness looks like. What does it matter how we live here on earth if there’s nothing to hope for in the next life? Despair is what I see when I see abortion statistics. When I see yet another shooting. When I see mothers who can’t even find any joy in the incredible blessing of motherhood. In desperation, our world is grabbing for any tiny bit of happiness that it can find. And, being godless, hopeless sinners as we are, we tend to look for that happiness in the worst possible things. In selfish ambitions. In disgusting habits. In horrifying cruelty. Abortion. Pornography. Drugs. Sex. Bullying. Hate. Money. And so many other things that are guaranteed to leave us empty and cold and more desperate than ever.
Despair is so terrifyingly real when you are without Christ.
You don’t live just once. There will literally be hell to pay for so many.
All the more reason for those of us who have the hope of Christ to live that way. We should be the last people clinging to government as the great hope for mankind. We should be the last ones making cruel comments on social media. The last ones supporting sex trafficking and killing our own marriages by watching pornography. We should be the last ones enjoying entertainment that curses God. We should be the very last people on this earth to place happiness on a higher plane than Godliness.
In the face of such despair in our world, let us be the ones who consistently point to Christ, through our attitudes, through our self-sacrifice, through our acknowledgement that there is so much more than this one minuscule life. Are we truly set apart?
But you are the ones chosen by God,
chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people,
God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him,
to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—
from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted. 1 Peter 2:9-10 (MSG)