Over the past month, for the majority of mothers, motherhood has stepped up a notch in intensity. Not only are mothers unable to work, socialise, shop or serve as they once did, mothers of school-aged children have also become teachers of their children, educating them at home. At a time when many mothers are feeling stretched, overwhelmed and more anxious than they once may have been, now more than ever we need to be looking to Jesus as we seek to be gospel-centred mothers. So, it is perfect timing that we look at Emily Jensen and Laura Wifler’s recent book “Risen Motherhood: Gospel Hope for Everyday Moments. (2019, Harvest Hope).”
Emily Jensen and Laura Wifler began their ministry with the podcast “Risen Motherhood” as a way of sharing the hope they have found in Jesus and the practical way gospel-truth speaks into the role of mothering. This book comes in a similar style and similar content to this podcast. In the book, they begin: “Motherhood is hard. One second we think we’re doing a good enough job; the next, we feel like the worst mom on the plant. Which is why we need the refreshing truth of the gospel to be repeated over and over again, giving us hope in the everyday moments.” This undergirds their book, honestly sharing the joys and hardships of mothering and highlighting how the gospel refreshes us on a day-by-day, moment-by-moment basis.
“Risen Motherhood” is divided into three parts- Part 1: Why Does the Gospel Matter in Motherhood? Part 2: Gospel Hope for the Everyday Moments of Motherhood and Part 3: How Do I Learn to Apply the Gospel in Motherhood. In each section, Jensen and Wifler bring all the aspects of motherhood that they address; from marriage, birth and toilet training to schooling choices, community and traditions under the light of the gospel. They do this through discussing each aspect under the Creation-Fall- Redemption- Consummation framework. Each chapter finishes with discussion questions that provide a helpful resource for group and personal and reflection.
As in their podcast, Jensen and Wifler share and write like they are sitting around a table chatting with you over their thoughts and experiences. They share personally, which draws their readers in, giving you insight into their lives. As you read, you come to understand that they genuinely desire to encourage mothers to be mothering with the gospel as their central influence. In a culture of the professional, with bookshelves in the parenting section sagging under the weight of opinions, it is vital that we as Christian mothers bring all aspects of our lives under the authority and wisdom of God, being equipped by the Holy Spirit, rather than filling our minds and hearts with the advice from the cultural smorgasboard of opinions.
This is the heart of the “Risen Motherhood” message; as Jensen and Wifler say:
“Sometimes our response to “not enough” feelings in motherhood is to brush off our guilt instead of looking beneath it. Influencers, authors, and even our own friends and family tell us that simply because we are our children’s loving moms, we are enough. Our well-intentioned efforts (however large or small) are all that’s needed. We should stop worrying about the nagging guilt and create the life we want.
“But deep down we still have this lurking feeling that we’re missing the mark, and we don’t know how to cope with it. So we joke and eye roll about our child’s behavior. We post our mom-fails to social media. We let the mess be messy without bothering to clean it up. We tease the moms who seem more balanced or accomplished. When in doubt, we carve out more “me time” or escape into exercise, food, work or social media. We lower the bar until our guilt is quieted.”
“If you are like us, these tactics fail to fully alleviate the guilt, stress, and pressures of everyday motherhood. Instead they send us on a confusing trial-and-error journey where we never find rest. We can handle the striving for a while, but eventually something as simple as another potty training accident sends us over the edge. We’re left dizzy, discouraged, and disarmed.” (p.15)
The reason we can’t ever get our act together like we desire is because our spirit and flesh are battling in us, just like they are in our children. Simply put, we are sinners in need of a Saviour; just as our children are. We need to see ourselves through the lense of the gospel, so that we can see our children in the same light. As we mother each moment, the truth of the saving grace extended to us in Jesus needs to be our foundation. For as we seek to see motherhood in light of the gospel, we will mother in a way that glorifies God, edifies our children and shares the love of Jesus with the next generation.
“Risen Motherhood (2019)” by Emily Jensen and Laura Wifler is an excellent book to give to a young mother or to read yourself. It primarily caters for mothers of young to primary-school aged children, as it doesn’t address topics of mothering children through different seasons of life. However, this book also addresses principles of motherhood, so women with older children can still be blessed through it. This is the book I will be giving as part of a gift for a new mum, for it is a book that so clearly explains the need to rely on God and his glorious gospel, in both the mundane and on the mountain-top.
First published at Equip Bookclub.