“There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, ‘Mine!’” – Abraham Kuyper
There it is again. A little nagging annoyance. Laundry to put away. Another bathroom to clean. Out of wipes downstairs. And the dog had an accident in the house—again. Oh yes, and dinner should be prepped now to eat at a reasonable time.
I calculate how long each of those tasks will take, consider the daily equation of responsibilities to nap-length probability, and realize there is not enough time (or energy) for my personal to-do list, including creative work and writing. That will get pushed to another day, again.
Sigh. Annoyance has turned into frustration.
Where does the time go? Specifically, where does “my” time go?
I take a different approach. Wake up an hour before my son, cram as much “me stuff” in as possible. Work out. Read the Bible. Write a few words. Of course, there are dishes to put away, a whiny dog . . . and what’s that? Child woke up forty minutes earlier than expected.
Is that a seed of bitterness I feel?
Here’s an idea. Bathroom cleaning during room play time. Laundry during Elmo. Dinner is a frozen pizza. Nap time devoted to my priorities. Hurray! If I can just be efficient, that will solve everything. It solves nothing—at least not in my heart. I labor all day, but for what?
My son is acting out. He’s been priority number two, three—okay, four—all day. We’ve done eighteen errands and seven loads of laundry trying to pack it all in, all so I get “me time” after dinner.
And the final guest arrives. Welcome, guilt.
I find my thoughts and efforts in this season grasping for something to call mine. Some minutes here, an hour there, an identity independent of those who need, need, need me at all times.
This quest poses an honest search for truth. I know my dignity and worth are not in my role as mother (or PR director, wife, or anything else). My identity, deepest and truest, is a woman made in God’s image, called to love and be loved by him. But my daily experience is more like the game tug-of-war—where the privilege of being a mother feels opposed to the desire to feed and use the gifts and passions that make me uniquely me.
Popular advice tells me to stake out boundaries, find a hobby or side hustle, and balance the responsibilities of motherhood with time for myself. Even though it’s important to care for my God-given needs and establish regular habits for rest and health, it seems like this fight in my heart is about something else. What I hear (whether intended or not) is to tug on that rope. Pull hard for what is mine.
There it is again: Mine.
Becoming a mother is, if anything, an act of self-sacrifice. We do it from the first seconds of motherhood, sacrificing body and heart for the care of another. And it never ends. Not when working out of the home, staying home full time, or working part time from home. Not with toddlers, definitely not with teens, and not with empty-nesting or traveling the country to care for grandbabies. Watching my mom friends and their different scenarios and seasons, I know that perfect life balance doesn’t exist. The idyllic mine is unfulfilling.
Flourishing as a whole person amidst the responsibilities of motherhood is a good goal. But why does it feel so hard? My soul wants for more. Is there a way through the fight, to a life of joy? I hope so, because I can’t tug this rope much longer. I’m exhausted from trying.
Lately, that famous quote by Kuyper on the sovereignty of God keeps echoing in my head, contending with my own cries for “Mine!” Christ’s complete sovereignty over everything is the same truth that guided my career decisions for fifteen years—into the halls of Congress, the culture-making epicenter of Nashville, and the sometimes-bewildering world of state government and education policy.
But now, typing away alone at my kitchen table during a few quiet minutes, I confess I’ve made the age-old mistake of relegating God to the corners of life. A Christ marginalized and miniaturized, conveniently, cares about and is over some things, but not all. I get to (or need to) control the rest as mine. My primary issue isn’t one of balance or time—it’s of lordship. Is the day mine or is it his? Are my needs mine to fret over, or are they his to see and supply? Is my to-do list something for me to complete at all costs, or is it his to guide and direct?
This season, demanding as it is, doesn’t have to be a tug-of-war between motherhood and mine. The deeper reality of my life in Christ is in Galatians 2:20: “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”
There’s freedom in a life integrated to his. Regardless of what I accomplished today (or how long my child napped), I can say with Paul, I have learned to be content in Christ. He cares for my soul, provides exactly what I need, secures my identity, and gives my life real purpose and significance. As I bring my needs, desires, goals, and responsibilities to him, he guides me by the Spirit in the good work and rest he has for me each day.
So the toddler season—his.
The meal prep and cleanup—his.
The writing and the reading and the teaching—his.
The working out, soul-care, and date night—his.
Seen this way, everything I have to offer or want to attain is already his. I can serve my family out of love, not resentment, duty, or guilt. Like King David said, in giving of his wealth to build the temple, “For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you” (1 Chronicles 29:14). That is the heart I want.
Gratitude and joy are possible, even with the laundry and the toddler tantrums and all the rest, when my life is founded in Christ’s beautiful sufficiency, not attempting to hold onto the fleeting mine. How does this look, in real life?
I write this today, not as one who has achieved an internal change, but as a mom who desperately needs Christ to make a change in me. So, my plan is to start small. Like really small. When those same tug-of-war feelings creep into my heart, after each task, I want to ask, “Lord, what would you have me do next?”
Maybe the answer will be clear, maybe not. Maybe it will be just the thing I was planning to do. Or maybe it will be allowing for an interruption to show love and grace to another. But more than anything, that pause is the simple acknowledgment that the next minute or hour (day and year) is all already his, not mine.