For every thinking Mom who lives in the daily tension between reading Ferdinand the Bull and Philip Yancey, wiping noses and writing articles , running carpool and managing projects, this prayer’s for you:
May you know God’s pleasure as you read widely and think deeply.
Like Eric Liddel, the British Olympic runner who famously said, “I feel God’s pleasure when I run,” may you sense his pleasure when you exercise the intellectual gifts he has given you.
Perhaps you didn’t love school or even make the honor roll. But you love to read and could spend your entire Saturday with a book. Maybe the older you became, the sturdier your reading list grew. Picking up Lewis, Schaeffer or Willard, Tolstoy, MacDonald, or Sayers was like sitting down to a rich banquet.
If you are a Christian woman who loves to think deeply about big ideas, the rich symbolism of metaphors, the cogency of well-reasoned arguments, may you celebrate this gift. It’s part of your beauty.
Scripture tells us that “we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18). Your intellect, your reason and imagination reflect the beauty of those same characteristics in the Lord Jesus.
In some corners of Christianity an intellectually gifted woman may be made to feel “less than.” Like she’s out of her place or shirking the care of her home or children. Yet in Scripture we see Aquilla and Priscilla teaching Apollos. We see women as prophetesses and deaconesses. A brilliant friend of mine was encouraged by one of her seminary professors, “Don’t be afraid to show your plume.” Exactly.
May you engage the world’s needs with a heart filled with humility, eyes on Christ, undaunted by the expectations of others.
But our beauty as women who love to think deeply can also be a snare. We can become corrupted on account of our beauty, like Satan who was called, “the model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.” But then, “Your heart became proud on account of your beauty…(Ezekiel 28).”
Our strong minds can also be a trap because 1 Cor 8:1-2: says “Knowledge puffs up….” I find this verse a little depressing. It doesn’t say that knowledge may puff you up. It’s a fact: knowledge puffs you up.
Intelligence gives you a voice in a world that worships knowledge and turns to the expert for advice. Your success as a thinker will bring you great validation and praise. You can easily get stoned on the attention and need a constant fix to keep you going.
The true test of this is hiddenness. Are you willing to serve when the applause comes only from God? When you teach or write for only a few? When you encounter long seasons consumed with caregiving? Do you have to have validation to be ok?
May you serve God with all your heart and mind, regularly confessing your pride, always longing for the glory to go to God.
May you enjoy the company of others who like to think and go deep. Seek out writing groups, study partners, learning vacations and field trips. If you’re in college or newly married, savor this opportunity for study and camaraderie. You may find yourself in the wiping decade full of diapers and messes before you know it.
Most of us have dreams of nurturing a family—a high calling and privilege. But at some future point in your role as a wife or mother you may feel like your education is being wasted. It may seem that you are so far from the learning/teaching/creative/leading path you want to set for yourself that you will never find the way back.
Whenever you feel like your brain is up on the shelf, collecting dust; when you vaguely remember the thrill of writing a great paper, or solving a multi-layered mystery, or seeing the light bulbs come on as you teach, when the only thing you are writing is a Christmas newsletter; when you are sitting in McD’s with bulky diaper bags full of bottles and wipes with French fries and catsup smeared everywhere, and you see the bouncy college girls breezing in with their tiny little purses, remember: God is using this.
I love working in God’s economy; nothing is wasted. And God is after your heart. He loves your mind, but it is only a part of you.
God wants you for your heart, as John Eldredge says, “your laughter, your tears, your dreams, your fears, your heart of hearts.” Not hearts as in emotions, but in the biblical sense, the deepest, truest you—mind, will, imagination—all of you.
In The Divine Conspiracy Dallas Willard writes of the momentous future for which God is preparing us: “It is God’s intention that we should have as much power as we can bear for good.” He wants to make us “the kind of person he can set free in his universe and empower us to do what we want to do…” To be so deeply formed in the image of Christ that we will naturally do the things he would do. To be fully prepared to reign with him.
Being fully developed in the likeness of Jesus takes much more than study, writing, teaching, making art or pursuing a career. It’s wiping, scrubbing, and fighting against the piles—laundry, mail, dishes. And none of it is wasted.
The massive failures, the heartaches that make you want to ball up on the bed, never to rise again, the long flat stretches of boredom and waiting, (the throbbing of my arthritic joints that would bring me to my knees if I could bend that far)—all of it is accomplishing God’s purpose for us.
Through the detours and the tedium you are searching out the meanings and the glory of God that will add empathy and understanding to your intellectual gifts. So that you will become the kind of person God can set free in his universe and empower to reign with him.
We cannot reign with just a brain. We need the beauty being revealed in us by everything that God allows through his protective hedge around our lives.
Finally, if God has given you a mind to search out subtle, hidden truth and meanings, may he open doors to make them known to others. As Abraham Kuyper has said, every person of learning “should be fired with a zeal to battle against the darkness and for the light.” In today’s “whatever” culture you are needed.
May you feed your soul and intellect so that you can enrich others. The world has never been so desperate for thinkers/artists/leaders of faith.
May you be bold and courageous, battling the darkness of lies and ignorance with the beauty of God’s Truth and the tenderness of a Mother’s heart. And may you raise beautiful children who love to learn and go deep.