I love to speak to all sorts of groups, but MOPS women have a special place in my heart.
These gals–Mothers of Preschoolers–don’t ask for much. Give them a bagel, a smile, and two hours of child care and they’re happy. Thrilled, actually. The fact that they get to enjoy some adult conversation is just bonus material. (And honestly? I think some of these precious women would be okay if the speaker just turned down the lights and said they could nap.)
As an audience, they are delightful.
And as moms, they are committed. And strong. And hungry to learn. They get together not just for the company (or even the refreshments, which are way above par for church-based cuisine), but because they genuinely desire God’s best for their families, and they want to know what that looks like in real life.
I won’t pretend to have all the answers, but as an older mom who watched her youngest child graduate from college last weekend…
(and yes, that IS Robbie’s U.Va. graduation gown that he packed his stuff in), I felt privileged to share a few insights with our local MOPS group this week.
I told the young moms about the time that our house caught on fire.
We were in the midst of yet another remodel, and Robbie and Virginia (who were just one and two then) had gone down for their naps. The older two girls were off playing with friends, the construction crew was working outside, and our house was utterly, beautifully quiet.
Until the foreman started hollering at me, up the stairs, telling me that I had to “get them babies up!” because the house was “on FIRE!”
I stood there, staring down at the man. And wishing that he would stop yelling. Or at the very least, lower his voice.
(If you’re a mother, you get it. My dilemma was real. I mean, the babies had just nodded off…)
“Um…how bad is the fire?” I finally whispered. “Like, can you see actual flames?”
Not one of my finer mom moments, I know. But we’re all still alive, which is the main thing. And the other main thing is that this story is the perfect tie-in to Nehemiah.
Nehemiah is the Bible guy who rebuilt Jerusalem after the Babylonians demolished it. He faced opposition (some powerful people did not want his plan to succeed, and they kept up a barrage of abuse), but one of his main problems was simply the scope of the job. The city’s walls had been broken, its gates burned, and there was so much debris that the Jews (almost none of whom were professional builders) reached the point where they were ready to throw in the towel. “The strength of the laborers is giving out,” they told Nehemiah, “and there is so much rubble that we cannot rebuild the wall.”
Can anybody relate?
Weariness can be a killer–even if the job is something we care deeply about. Fatigue can sap our strength and cloud our judgment, making us think and do crazy things. Like wanting to give up on a key building project. Or letting babies sleep through a fire.
Nehemiah understood all of this. He knew what exhaustion could do–particularly when you’re already feeling attacked. And so he made a plan. You can read the fine print here if you want, but the gist is that he posted people together so that they could strengthen each other, and he made sure that his workers had weapons.
Which is exactly what we do when we pray with our friends, and when we use Scripture to ward off attacks.
Nehemiah stationed whole families together, positioning them along the most vulnerable and exposed spots on the wall. We do the same thing when we come together to pray. We spot a gap in the wall–a place where a child or a friend might be at risk–and we get to work. And when one of us gets too weary or discouraged to lift up our hands (which can happen sometimes, in the trenches), others step in. We stand firm, knowing that our labor is not in vain.
And, like Nehemiah’s workers, we rely on our sword. Hebrews 4:12 says our sword is the Bible, and that we can use it to separate the lies from the truth. Which, for a weary young (or old!) mother, can be a game-changer.
We may tell ourselves, for instance, that we are not up to the job, that we stink at the whole parenting thing. But God says that we are his masterpiece, and that motherhood is a calling that he has both equipped and prepared us to do.
We think that we’ve blown it, that we’ve ruined our kids by some awful thing that we said or we did. But God says that he’s our Redeemer, and he promises to work in all things–the good and the bad–for our good when we love him.
You get the idea. Whether we’re building a city or a family, we can’t go it alone. We need one another. We need prayer. And we need the wisdom of Scripture.
There is so much more we could say (and golly, the MOPS moms got an earful this week!), but I’ll just wrap up with this:
If you’re a young mom (or you know someone who is), consider checking out MOPS. There’s no pressure to do anything but show up–and when you’ve got little people that you want to love really well, the friendships you forge at the meetings can become your tether to hope.
And speaking of loving our littles, I did, in fact, wake my babies that day. The firetruck came–the whole neighborhood came–and everyone (even the firemen) wound up eating popsicles. It was a good day, all around.
Except that I went to bed that night very tired.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9)