By Melynda Schauer
A long day of being home alone with my young sons stretches out before me. My husband leaves early in the morning to speak out of town and won’t be back until late at night. My 2-year-old is fighting a cold, so we can’t have a play date and it’s too chilly to go outside. The things I’d normally do to alleviate the loneliness of a long day (errands, having a friend over, going to the park) are not options, and I have to fight my own disappointment.
And right there, as my idols are revealed and taken away, Jesus meets me.
In the midst of a day hidden from the view of anyone else, He is present. My boys are 2.5 and 1 years old, so they won’t have any permanent memories of the ways I’m caring for them—every sandwich made, diaper changed, towers built, toys cleaned up, baths given. But Jesus gently reminds me that He sees me, and I’m not alone.
In the past few years of being a mom, I’ve realized how hidden my life as a mom is, especially in comparison to other seasons. It was a huge adjustment to go from writing news stories for a TV station full time to being primarily a stay-at-home mom. When I was working in the newsroom, I could easily measure my success by seeing my name on the bylines of multiple news articles each day. I had bosses to provide leadership and direction, co-workers to collaborate with, and younger staff I helped train.
But when I became a first-time mom in a new city when my husband and I joined ISM staff, suddenly those measures of success were gone. Who tells you if you’re doing a good job as a mom? And as a disciplemaker mom, it can be extra challenging to measure your ministry impact as your availability to students changes in different seasons.
As I’ve been reflecting on the sacrifices of living this “hidden life” as a mom to my little boys, God brought to mind three things that He designed to be hidden for a specific time and purpose, before being transformed into something even greater:
- A clay pot in a kiln
- A seed in the earth
- A baby in the womb
Each of these is in a dark, hidden place, under pressure and heat, for a specific amount of time.
Before a clay pot is hidden in the fiery kiln, it doesn’t look beautiful and isn’t ready to be used. But after a set amount of hours at a high temperature, the transformation is astounding! Once removed, the piece of glazed pottery is more beautiful and more durable than ever before. It is lovely and ready to be used for its designed purpose. It will bear unique marks, not only the fingerprints of its creator, but also imprints from its time in the fiery kiln.
A seed, after being buried in the warm earth for a set amount of time, grows deep roots and stretches its stems and leaves upward, until finally breaking through the ground to reach the sunlight above. Eventually, it will grow into a tree that bears fruit with more seeds! This picture from God’s creation reminds me of the words Jesus spoke in John 12:24: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”
God also designed every single human being to start as a baby growing in the mother’s warm, dark womb for a specific amount of time. And after those 40 (give or take) weeks of being hidden in the womb, a brand new baby is brought into the world! Jesus himself spoke about the joy that each new human being brings, a joy powerful enough to make a mother forget the anguish she suffered to bring that new life into the world (John 16:21)—which is no small feat!
Perhaps you, like these hidden things, are going through a season of darkness, intense pressure, and feeling the heat of all of your responsibilities. Maybe you are suffering from postpartum depression, anxiety, loneliness, fear, doubts, feeling inadequate or overwhelmed. Perhaps repeating the routines of motherhood and ministry day after day, week after week, are wearing on you. I can relate!
Let me encourage you with the truth that we worship the God who sees (Genesis 16:13). He designed nature and our bodies to grow and reproduce after seasons of dark, uncomfortable waiting. Perhaps it is the same for our hearts as well!
No matter the percentage of your day spent changing diapers or writing emails, cooking for your kids or meeting with students, my prayer for us all is that we would discover the hidden treasures of wisdom and knowledge that are found in Christ alone (Colossians 2:2-3). There are unique treasures to be found in these seasons of being “hidden” as we mother our children and point people to Jesus–and unique transformations of our hearts as well!
Melynda Schauer is married to Dennis and mama to Sam (2.5 years old) and Timothy (1). They are on staff with ISM at Georgia Tech in Atlanta and primarily minister to Chinese students. Melynda has enjoyed these students a lot because she grew up as a missionary kid in East Asia. Dennis and Melynda will be directing the Global Student Program (GSP) in 2020 for the second year in a row!