The Profession of Motherhood: Sharayah’s Story

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  1 Thessalonians 5:16–18

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

*****It is that time of year again: Fall stories! Wholehearted Woman Ministries’ mission is helping women be fully surrendered to the lordship of Jesus Christ and courageously on-mission for Him – one heart at a time.  One of the ways we do that is by sharing real-life stories of Christian women (both past and present) who have decided to follow Jesus wholeheartedly in this way.  No matter what season of life you are in, God is calling you to a place of deep and wholehearted relationship with Him.  We pray that each story told is used by God to fashion your individual heart, to know and experience Him even more deeply, and to joyfully do His will to His glory!  “Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story.” (Psalm 107:2) Read on!

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My siblings and I (Jenni) attended Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for college.  It was there that I met fellow students and followers of Christ from all over the country and even the world who lived the Christian college life with joy and in pursuit of God’s will for their lives.  One of those people was Sharayah.  Whenever our paths crossed, it was evident what a love God had given her for people, for enjoyment of learning, and for Him!    

Today, Sharayah is wife to her college sweetheart, mom of 4 little boys, and willing servant of the Lord in the many, many daily details of life in this particular season of life. She recently shared with The Wholehearted Woman about God’s calling for her as a wife and mother, which she has embraced wholeheartedly with joy, humor, and a beautiful determination.  We are thrilled to get to share it with you!  This is Sharayah’s story… 

Aside from my dream of one day magically waking up and, with zero lessons on the ice or balance beam, discovering I’ve become an Olympic figure skater or gymnast, the only thing I have ever wanted to be was a mom. As a little girl, I would surround myself with stuffed cows and pigs; teach them to read and do math; send them to bed when they behaved in ways not suitable for Christian farm animals; and raise them to be respectful, kind, and generous to their barnyard buddies. It was an unconventional start to motherhood to be sure, but it felt like I was doing the only job I could ever imagine myself doing.

When it was time to head off to college though, I had to decide on an actual job field to work towards. Yes, obviously one day I would become a mother like I’d always dreamed. But that was a dream for years from now, most likely. What career did I want? What real job could I see myself enjoying and excelling in for the indefinite future? I had devoted very little time to this seemingly important decision, and declaring a major felt incredibly daunting. The only “job” I had ever wanted was to be a mama to a mess of messy kids, and there was most definitely no Raising Children to Become Awesome Humans college path available.

While I did eventually end up declaring my major to be in engineering late junior year, I never once saw myself as a future engineer. I graduated with my degree and began looking into engineering positions, but it was a half-hearted effort at best. I honestly only saw myself as “someone with an engineering degree,” never as “someone who will become a great engineer.” I had no desire to be an engineer. I had no professional aspirations to climb the corporate ladder. The only dream I had was that childhood wish to be a mother of many.

But I made a resume and searched the job sites and applied for entry level positions that sounded remotely like something I would want to do as my real life adult job. A problem that kept coming up though was the question, “Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten years?” I am not sure what is considered the best response for that type of question, but I am quite positive it is not, “Being a stay-at-home mom to my passel of half-Asians and never wearing business attire again.” But really? That was my honest-to-goodness five/ten-year plan.

And I am sometimes still in absolute awe that God smiled down on me and my husband and wholeheartedly blessed this plan.

Before I knew it, I was smack dab in the middle of my lifelong dream: I was married to an amazing man who supported my “let’s have a big family” hopes. We both agreed that my aspiration to be a stay-at-home mom who homeschooled our kids was what we wanted for our family. We were raising first one, then two, then three, and finally four little boys and surrounded daily by all the mess and mayhem and magnificence that I had always imagined. It was, it is… incredible.

And yet.

When I happen to be asked, “So, what do you do for a living? Where do you work? What kind of job do you have?” why is it that the first, and only, words that pop into my head and out of my really-awful-at-small-talk mouth is, “Oh, I’m just a stay-at-home mom…”? I usually include an awkward laugh at the end, maybe an “oh, nothing of interest here” wave of my hand. Five minutes later, I am inevitably mentally facepalming myself as I realize I did it again. For some reason, when the topic of my profession or career comes up, I am lightning quick to diminish and brush off my “job.”

But why?

Despite feeling the rightness of choosing this life and it being my picture of an absolutely ideal life, if I am completely honest I believe it comes down to the fact that on some level there is a part of me that has latched onto the lie that the profession of motherhood is somehow less than, unworthy of notice or mention, and somehow [bafflingly so] lacking in purpose or impact compared to “real jobs.” Somewhere along the way, what I had always believed from childhood to be a “God-given calling” had somehow been redefined in my mind as “unskilled labor with no real life purpose.”

Talk about a whiplash of a realization.

I wish I could say that finally putting into words my grossly inaccurate subconscious beliefs was all I needed to step back into the knowledge and purpose of what I knew to be Biblically true about motherhood. But, spoiler: it was not. Instead, correcting my mindset has been an ongoing process of scriptural reminders [“Whatever you do, work at it wholeheartedly as though you were doing it for the Lord and not merely for people.” – Colossians 3:23], frequent whispered prayers throughout each day [“You have given me the responsibility to guide these tiny souls even in this frustrating moment – please help me choose my words.”], and being deliberate in changing my perspective from “anyone can do this” to “God specifically chose me to do this, and to do this well.”

Being intentional with my thoughts, unsurprisingly, has a very obvious effect on my attitudes. When I remember that every interaction with one of my boys is actually an ever present opportunity to love them well, train their minds, form their character, and, at the core it all, exemplify and point them towards Christ, I can no longer view these moments as mundane or unimportant. Instead, they become the most important things I can do. They become God-assigned tasks to be accepted with humility and, dare I say it, joy.

Is it hard to find the joy in trying to work through an emotional meltdown about the drop of water that made a toddler’s shirt damp [which only escalates when the tears from the meltdown splash down onto other parts of their clothing]? Is it a wee bit difficult to see the divine merit of changing that fifth smelly diaper in under two hours? Is it hard to picture the eternal significance of making the same giant stack of peanut butter sandwiches every…single…day..? A thousand times YES. But despite the truth of that, I daily choose to cling to an even bigger truth: A mother is doing God’s work. A mother is His hands and feet and heart to her children. Every sleepy new morning, every interaction during the day, every moment of the bedtime routine at night, is a mother’s sacred mission field.

1 Thessalonions 5:16-18 are some of my favorite verses in the Bible as they feel like such a clearly laid out list of the requirements of the motherhood profession: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Mothers, rejoice in your family. Rejoice in the time you get to devote to your children. Mothers, pray for your family. Pray that you are a beacon of God’s love, patience, kindness, joyfulness, steadfastness, wisdom, and hope to your children. Mothers, give thanks for your family. Give thanks for the good things but also give thanks in the middle of the hard things, because so often beautiful things grow from those trying circumstances. This is His will for you.

If you are doing the will of God, there is no shame in your work. That work does not need to be done in an office or in view of dozens of colleagues, and it does not need to be legitimized by a physical paycheck. That work can be done within the four walls of your home, surrounded by people who smear yogurt on your pants and insist you did not give the same number of piggy back rides to everyone. Your work as a mama of one kid or many kids is significant for His kingdom. Ignore the lies that say otherwise.

When you allow God to strip away the lie that motherhood is a second-tier calling, lacking legitimacy and lasting importance, and instead start to embrace it as a sacred profession with unmatched potential to impact the kingdom of God, it becomes near impossible to belittle the tasks that make up your daily mundane routine. The bottom wiping, the math lessons, the bickering interventions, the pile of dishes in the kitchen sink, they all become the holy assignments ordained by God himself to train you in His never-ending love and patience, to give you the opportunity to joyfully bring glory to His Kingdom, and to daily shepherd and transform the hearts and minds of the little ones He delights to be brought unto Him.

How can we ever consider this purpose, this calling, this wholly legitimate profession of motherhood, somehow less than any created employment of this world? God may not call everyone to motherhood, but to everyone who is a mother, it is our duty to prioritize this responsibility as the true profession that it is: one that may require our daily laying down of self but one that deserves our recognition and honoring of the gifts and opportunities that He has given us.

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

And now I must unattach from my leg one of the gifts God has given me so I can go mediate a disagreement between two of my other gifts and afterward show my oldest gift how to research facts for his language arts assignment. I am 100% positive I will need to read my above words as a timely reminder sometime later today and, you know what? I think that’s okay. Because, ultimately, excelling in your day [and often night] job of motherhood is less about your perfection and so much more about your wholehearted commitment to simply use the moments God places in front of you each day. Use those moments, mama.

Check out the link below to read about what Sharayah joyfully refers to as “Adventures of the Ordinary” in some of her daily life mama moments!

A Mathematician and His Asians

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For more stories like this one, grab your copy of the book The Wholehearted Woman: Who She is and Why She Matters  by sisters and co-authors, Jenni Walker and Beth Doohan.  With heartfelt messages that will challenge your faith, stories of other Wholehearted Women, and reflection questions to dive deeper, this is a great resource for personal devotion or small group study!

Now available through Barnes and NobleWestbow PressWalmart, and other bookstores.