Anyone who is currently watching Downton Abbey will have heard Mary utter these words last weekend. While they did make me chuckle, it also led me to really think about what this phrase, and some other similar ones, mean in our culture, particularly in Christian circles.
As Christian women, many of us grow up putting marriage, motherhood, or (especially in today’s society) our ministry or career on a pedestal. Although I did eventually marry relatively young (23), I spent many many years beforehand longing to be a wife and mother, and I was convinced that once I had achieved that, I would have achieved my goals for my life, and I would be complete.
Many young Christian women have similar stories, even if it takes a while for them to recognize it.
What made me confront this issue, perhaps quite a lot sooner than I otherwise would have, was discovering at 20 that I had cancer. Six months of intensive chemotherapy began, and I was warned by the doctors that there was a possibility I would become infertile, a possibility that would become a probability if I were to be put on the heavier treatment they expected me to need halfway through.
This warning shook me to my very core. For as long as I could remember, I dreamed of being a wife and mother, I had always believed that was my calling, and I was desperate for it.
The next few months (and beyond) were spent wrestling with this. Although I ended up not needing the heavier treatment, I started to question what it was I was called to. As I drew near to the end of my treatment, I found myself somewhere I never thought I would be: knelt before God offering Him my heart for marriage and family. I was finally able to pray honestly that if His will was for me to never be married, then I would be peaceful, because I would still find my fulfilment in Him.
Two and a half years later, I walked down the aisle on my wedding day, overcome with joy and peace.
Girls, we are bombarded from the world with messages about sex, love, money, fame. And sometimes, although it is not necessarily meant as such, we are also bombarded from the Church with messages about vocations, marriage, motherhood, ministry.
And even though we hate to admit it to ourselves, most of us are desperately seeking one or more of those things in order that we may be complete.
The problem is, it’s never enough.
I would say I am much much better at letting God fulfil my needs since I offered Him my desires for marriage and a family. But there are days where I forget. I put incredible pressure on my husband, as I did with boyfriends, expecting him to “complete me”. And it doesn’t end there. Because once you are married, and you realize that it isn’t enough, that it doesn’t complete you, you start to think perhaps parenthood will. But then you become a mother (or father, I’m sure this is at least partly true of men too!), and you start to think perhaps you just need to have a good career, a great ministry.
But when you’ve got that…what then?
We end up unhappy, burned out, unsatisfied, exhausted, frustrated, bored…
But God says:
So for all those women (or men) who are wondering why they’re not married yet, or why they’re not parents yet, or why their ministry isn’t as fulfilling as they thought it would be, may you find grace and peace today.
For all those who are struggling with discerning their vocation, may you be truly open and honest before God, so that He may speak to you and you may listen to the Truth, rather than a truth you want to hear.
For all those who are tired, who are overburdened and struggling to find fulfilment, may you lay your burdens at the foot of the cross, for Jesus died for those burdens, and He will bring you rest.
And may all of you know that you are loved, worthy, and precious exactly as you are. That your life starts now, not when you are a spouse, a parent, a perfect worker. God calls you right now, whatever state of life you are in, and He gives you everything you need for each and every day. He’s got plans for you now, don’t wish that precious time away.