Disclaimer: Not all women have to be stay at home moms, and due to God’s glorious freedom, we have so many ways to live out his purposes in our own, day to day lives. If you do not feel drawn to be a stay at home mom, I want you to hear right now—that is okay. Beyond okay—that is great. I am so confident Jesus is placing you exactly where you need to be. This article is for the woman who does believe she is meant to be in the home, but in the midst of that personal tug on her heart is struggling to find purpose. Women, let’s be a diverse group of the body that finds calling and fulfillment in all different types of work—in the home, or out of the home—and lets celebrate the women in our lives when they find their niche, their place, wherever it may be. There is no right way to be a woman of God. Blessed be Jesus for showing up in the office, in the classroom, in the hospital ERs and at the booster seats of kitchen tables. We are all uniquely his.
I sit at a table at my husband’s work party and hear the question, “So, do you work?” from a coworker I am just being introduced to. Without hesitation I reply, “No, I stay at home with our son.” Later that evening as my husband and I drive home hand-in-hand he says to me, “We need to figure out a different way for you to say that you’re a stay-at-home mom. Because you do work.”
For so many of us, that question of “Do you work?” is probably answered the same way I did to my husband’s coworker. Somewhere along the way, we decided that staying home with children was no longer work. It didn’t fit into the same category as a job or a career, with business promotions or dinner with clients, emails to send or coworkers to eat lunch with. So I meekly reply “no” when asked about my work, too passive to reveal the intense amount of labor I do on a day-to-day basis.
And yet, in the same breath, while culture often places being a stay-at-home mom on the bottom of the totem pole, Christian subculture can place staying at home as the highest of importance, making women who do work outside the home feel like lesser believers. In our churches and our Bible studies, being a STAHM has quickly turned into the ultimate purpose of women—the pinnacle of calling, even though changing diapers and wrangling toddlers and barely making it to school drop off feels far from that. Microwaved coffee for the 18th time that morning doesn’t exactly feel like the Proverbs 31 woman.
If you’re anything like me, you may have dreamed of staying at home with your kids someday. You pictured peaceful mornings with coffee on the couch while your baby calmly sat on a playmat, dates with friends while your toddler quietly ate a snack. And now, in the throes of parenting 24/7, being a stay at home mom feels, well, different. Not always bad and not always great, with much more noise and messes than you originally anticipated. It’s not that you don’t like being home, or love being with your kids, it’s that sometimes when your husband leaves the house or goes on a work trip, you catch yourself thinking, Why can’t I do that?
I am here to tell you today, this morning, this week, that being a stay-at-home mom comes with immense purpose, even when the days and weeks roll on and preparing meals, calming tantrums and rocking to sleep get plain old mundane. There is a sweetness, a joy, a significance to your role as stay-at-home mothers, and when trained to see it, I believe we can find a holy purpose in the simplicity of motherhood.
When Humble Work Feels Insignificant
In Matthew 5, Jesus preaches his famous Sermon on the Mount, and inside that sermon you’ll find the Beatitudes: a list of “blessed are” statements that are meant to describe those who follow Jesus. But, this list is often not what people would assume it to be. It is not blessed are the joyful, the productive, or the wealthy. It is not blessed are the happy, the busy, or the put together. I love this chunk of Scripture because I think it speaks so clearly to motherhood:
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”Matthew 5:5-9
Instead of blessing what people assumed would be blessed (i.e., what looks good on the outside), Jesus remarks that the peaceful, the meek, and the merciful will inherit the kingdom of God. Oftentimes, being a stay-at-home mom can feel insignificant because of the humble work it requires. We don’t get vacation time, business trips, compensated lunches or higher pay for the work we do. It looks more like cleaning the same room 4x a day, comforting a crying child, prepping dinner with a toddler at your feet, or rerunning the dryer after forgetting about last night’s laundry. But in that work we are presented with opportunity after opportunity to live out meekness, peacefulness, and mercy. We help siblings reconcile an argument and present them with grace. We calm a toddler tantrum and hand them peace. We patiently listen to our child read a book when we so desperately want sleep for ourselves, and we give them meekness. Jesus himself was described as a humble servant, and I don’t know anyone else living out that call quite like the mamas. Our work may feel insignificant, but I promise, it is making us shine like Jesus with each and every passing day.
In her book, Liturgy of the Ordinary, Tish Harrison Warren says this: “We learn the craft of holiness day by day in the living of a particular life. The missio Dei (mission of God) is lived out, not primarily in my theological reflections of motherhood…but as I hone the craft of motherhood in small moments when I’m weary and frazzled and kneel down on my kitchen floor to listen to a crying child.”1
To the stay-at-home moms, I want you to hear this—the mission of God is happening inside your home. We are so often handed taglines about cherishing each and every moment with our littles, and in the day-in and day-out of motherhood, it can look and feel a lot less fruitful, a lot less inspiring than Instagram reels make it out to be. But as you bend down on the kitchen floor to listen to your crying child, you are putting into work the missio Dei–the very mission of God alive.
When the Simple Feels Insignificant
In the book of First Kings, we find the story of Elijah, a prophet who, with a threat placed on his life, travels through the wilderness to hide. After a few days he finds himself hiding in a cave, waiting to hear from God as people seek to end his life. In a word from God, he goes out to a mountain to hopefully hear direction on what he should do next. In 1 Kings 19 it tells us:
“And behold, The LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him…”1 Kings 19: 11-13
Elijah needs to hear from God. He is waiting to experience him, and in his mind, an experience or encounter with God comes in the “big.” Elijah anticipates to see God move in the loud or in the flashy. Yet, that is not how God speaks to him. After wind and fire and a shaking earthquake, God chooses to speak to Elijah in a whisper. He shows up for him in the small, almost missed, low tone of speech. God does not need a flashy move to show his presence to Elijah. He does not rely on big things to show us his presence. The story of Elijah shows us that God comes powerfully in the small, almost missed moments of our life.
When I began staying at home with my son, Leon, my whole world drastically changed. I went from having a full-time, intensive teaching job where I served parents and students all day long, to, well, home. I washed bottles and changed diapers and sat in the nursery. And in those small moments it was easy to look around and wonder, Where is God in the midst of all this small stuff? How does any of this have significance? Where is he to be found in my ordinary life as a stay-at-home mom?
“We tend to want a Christian life with the dull bits cut out. Yet God made us to spend our days in rest, work, and play, taking care of our bodies, our families, or neighborhoods, our homes. What if all these boring parts matter to God? What if days passed in ways that feel small and insignificant to us are weighty with meaning and part of the abundant life God has for us?…There is no task too small or too routine to reflect God’s glory and worth.”2Tish Harrison Warren, Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life
I believe that being a stay-at-home mom may feel insignificant because we have not trained our eyes, ears, and hearts to see God move in the ordinary. As we sit with our babies, our toddlers, our pre-teens or our high school students, taking care of appointments and sporting events, snack time and baths, we feel insignificant because we subtly believe that God only shows up in the grand. We can’t hear his whispers to us through endless hours of pretend play, monitoring screen time and walks to the park because we only know to look for him in the loud. But here he is, whispering to us as our ordinary and mundane lives play out—waiting to be noticed.
It is easy to believe God only lives in the big—the boardroom meetings, the promotions, the places where people wear suits or surgical gowns. But for me, these mundane and small moments of life have been the ones I’ve seen God come alive in. I pick up toys and grocery shop and give nightly baths to my son and see the joy of God anew. I sit around the kitchen table, the one I’ve cleaned for the 10th time today, and taste the goodness of God. I watch my son see snowflakes for the very first time and see Christ risen. I live a pedestrian life—one filled with monotonous tasks that seem too boring for God to take up space in. But I believe wholeheartedly that God has made these moments holy. He came and died and rose again so we could see him as we brush our toddlers teeth, wash our faces, drive to school pick up and teach our children. He comes close as I change diapers, wash dishes and nurse my baby to sleep. He is near as we get dressed, go for walks and tie our toddlers shoes. He is not restricted to crazy adventures deemed worthy by our Instagram feeds. He was made for this pedestrian life. He was made for the mamas like you and me.
So, stay at home moms, let’s stop limiting God’s spirit to the places we believe are worthy of him taking up space, and start believing that he dwells with us in the seemingly insignificant tasks of day-to-day motherhood. Because when he is there, there is significance, purpose, and glory. When we tear away the lies that tell us our mundane lives are insignificant, we can start to see how children banging on pots and pans becomes worship, kid’s books become quiet times, and cheerios and milk become our holy communion.
Your lives, your homes, your children and your heart are of great significance to God, sweet mama. May you open your eyes to see him moving in your homes, your children, and most importantly, your soul as you listen for his tender whisper to speak to you today.
- In what ways have you felt a lack of purpose in being a stay-at-home mom? Pray about those today. God wants to hear your desires, your disappointments, and your questions.
- In what ways have you missed seeing God’s work in your day-to-day life at home because it felt too simple or mundane? Where could you begin to spot God at work in your home?
- Write down the ways you have seen God in the tiny moments of everyday life: a simple drive home with your teenage daughter, a morning snuggle in bed with your toddler, a walk around the block with your baby in tow. Where could you be missing God’s whispers to you as a stay-at-home mom?
- How does seeing God in the mundane bring out more significance in your time as a stay at home mom?
- In what ways have you placed being a stay at home mom at the center or your purpose? How could you reorient God back to the center of your fulfillment? How are you looking at homemaking to fulfill your deepest desires? How have you incorrectly placed your identity onto motherhood?
- I believe that being a stay-at-home mom comes with immense purpose—one that both husband and wife need to see and have vision for together. Talk to your spouse if you are feeling like staying at home is insignificant. Brainstorm together about how your time at home can cast a larger vision for your entire family.
- Reflect on the Beatitudes found in Matthew 5:5-9. In what ways does being a stay-at-home mom call you to be meek, merciful, and a peacemaker? How do you see yourself living out those qualities with significance as a stay-at-home mom?
- Read Psalm 149:4. “For the LORD takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation.” How could your perspective on being a stay-at-home mom shift if you believed he was adorning you due to your humility as a mother?
- Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life by Tish Harrison Warren
- To Light Their Way: A Collection of Prayers & Liturgies for Parents by Kayla Craig
- Garden City: Work, Rest, and the Art of Being Human by John Mark Comer
1 Tish Harrison Warren, Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life (Westmont, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2016), 94
2 Ibid., 22.
Photo credit: Emilee Carpenter
Julia is a former special education teacher turned to stay-at-home mom who is currently spending her days taking care of her son, Leon. Her passion for writing started at a young age and in her spare time, she can be seen drinking a chai latte, reading anything she can get her hands on, and traveling with her husband, Jake. She loves sushi, quiet mornings, and cuddles with her English Bulldog, Penelope.