“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
I always hated that question—for many reasons. But mostly because every time it was asked of me, no one wanted to hear my answer:
“I want to be a mom.”
“No. What do you really want to be?”
As a young person, I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t really want to be a mom. What was so wrong with motherhood? What was wrong with wanting to be present in the lives of the children I helped bring into the world? True, it was the eighties, but seriously, if society was going to teach girls that they could be anything they wanted to be but then restrict their choices to something nontraditional, well, it sounded pretty hypocritical.
I know that the adults in my life who asked that question meant well, but their concept of “empowering girls” had an opposite effect on this girl. I did not feel empowered to pursue my calling—even in the church. I walked away from those conversations with the mistaken idea that only “groundbreaking” endeavors were worth pursuing. So, I struggled through my teen years looking for another “good use” of the skills God had given me.
It took me a long time to see motherhood—and the building of a godly legacy—in the same light that God saw it. Yet I think mothering is an innate desire within nearly every woman. It was in Hannah from the Bible.
The book of Samuel gives us the story of Israel’s first prophet. Samuel was born during a time of apostasy, when “the word of the Lord was rare” (1 Sam. 3:1, New King James Version). He served Israel as both prophet and priest, directing the nation to revival. He was also Israel’s last judge. But Samuel wasn’t born of a noble family. He wasn’t born into leadership, into the priesthood. Samuel was born of “a certain man” and a barren woman (1 Sam. 1:1-2, NKJV).
Every year, Samuel’s mother would accompany her husband to Shiloh to worship God and offer sacrifices. And every year, she pleaded with the Lord for a child. She asked Him to give her a son. She then promised that she would give him to the Lord “all the days of his life” (1 Sam. 1:11, NKJV).
All the days of his life? What kind of woman could make such a promise? What kind of woman could guarantee her child would belong to the Lord even after he was grown?
The kind who understands the power of motherhood.
Andy Stanley once said, “Your greatest contribution to the kingdom of God may not be something you do, but someone you raise.” I love that. The world may never hear of me. It rarely hears of women like Morrow Graham, Nancy Edison, or Alberta Williams King. (Just read their last names and you’ll know who they are.) Yet look at the impact these women have had through their children—just in our lifetime! Billy Graham said, “Of all the people I have ever known, she [my mother] had the greatest influence on me.” Thomas Edison said, “My mother was the making of me. She was so true, so sure of me: and I felt I had something to live for, someone I must not disappoint.”
Again, the world may never hear of me. And that’s all right. But what kind of legacy am I leaving behind? Who am I raising? What will their influence be? That is the power of motherhood. That is my calling.