As Mother’s Day approached I began to think deeply about what I consider motherhood to be. I posted on Facebook that motherhood is about carrying someone else’s spirit. You don’t have to be a biological mom to do this. It is a privilege and an honor to carry someone else’s spirit, but definitely not always easy. It can also be overwhelming and exhausting.
What does it mean to carry another’s spirit?
One of my mentors often reminds me that we are living in a spiritual world. There is a physical world, but the spiritual world is functioning too. There is a depth to this life that cannot be seen, but it can be engaged.
1 Thessolonians 5:23
Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
My oldest has been struggling deeply the last 2 months. It shouldn’t have taken this child life specialist long to recognize that she was struggling with my health difficulties the last month and a half. We were sitting in the parking line at school. I had just hobbled my way back to the van and groaned as I climbed up into my seat. I am over the pain and exertion of energy that just getting in the car is expending. She says, “Mommy, my mind is telling me that you are faking it.” “Why do you think your mind is telling you that?” She replies, “Because it has been SO long…”
Yes, it has been SO long. My husband and I processed how she is so used to us getting sick and getting better in a few days time. Also, mommies are just not supposed to go down at all. We have got to SUCK IT UP. People need us. The only other time that I have been down for any amount of time and it affected the order of our life is when I had another baby. My oldest showed similar signs of intense struggle about 6 months after my third daughter was born.
The controlling mom in me wants to say, “Suck it up buttercup.” This is how life goes. But her spirit has been entrusted to me not to control but to carry.
Control – determine the behavior
I’m not sure if you have tried to determine the behavior of a child before, much less your own children. I can tell you from real life experience that determining the behavior of a child is futile and ridiculous. You will most definitely have to continue to determine more and more and more behavior for them ’til you end up crushing their spirit. Unfortunately, I can say this because I often do this.
Carrying a child’s spirit is a much different thing.
Carry – Support and move someone or something from one place to another
When you carry a spirit, you bear the weight of the spirit. You do not determine where it needs to be and tell it how to get there. Instead you pick it up in all of its heaviness and move it to the next place.
This is hard, yet deeply personal. It says I am WITH you in this. It means that you have no desire to force someone to the next place or expect them to be there. When you carry a spirit, it also means that you look deeper than what meets the physical eye. It is the part of someone else that you can’t see, but it’s functioning. It means that you are choosing to be with them in whatever they are in and bear their weight as you get to the next place WITH them. There is still a goal of movement, but the movement requires strength and servanthood rather than a sideline and enforcement of the rules.
3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
He joyfully puts that lost sheep up on His shoulders. He carries it. It has run amuck and not listened to the voice of the Shepherd. This sheep went and got itself lost. Jesus doesn’t leave it to teach it a lesson or whip it all the way home. He joyfully picks it up and carries it home.
This is the kind of mother I want to be. I could be angry at my oldest for telling me that she thinks I’m faking it. I could completely ignore what her spirit is telling me and just tell her to get over it. However, I want to joyfully carry my girls’ spirits and help them find their way to truth. Even in the midst of all the hard and wayward times, I want to help them and find their spirit with them. This is indeed hard.
This takes me letting my Savior carry me. You won’t know how to shepherd someone else’s spirit ’til you have had your spirit shepherded. And while the shepherd often leads from the back, we know he also carries sometimes.
I think about this is relation to the leaders, elders, pastors, teachers, friends, mentors…not just moms and dads. You are going to encounter another spirit in your daily interaction with people. You have a choice to try to control their physical and determine their behavior, or you can choose to carry their spirit. It really is the difference between the Kingdom way and the world’s way.