When I look at my great-grandmother’s photo, I get a little lost in her story. Sonia came to America from Siberia when she was around 15 years old after she married my great-grandfather who was an American soldier.
I absolutely love her story. Truthfully, I don’t know the details as much as I would like, but my crazy imagination sure can fill in the gaps pretty quickly with dramatic ideas of my own.
One wonders what motivated her to leave her family and native country and move to a completely new country with her new husband. When I look at her round face, framed by her trendy 1920's haircut known as "the bob", and those mischievous dark eyes, I wonder what her personality was like. I look at my own face in the mirror, contemplating my own dark eyes and wonder if she was introverted and shy at 15 years of age like I was. Or was she extroverted and bubbly like my free-spirited 6-year-old? The way she seems to be glancing away from the camera in this photo makes me think she was more like my third daughter who can only pause for a moment before something glittery has her running breathlessly through life again, savoring every moment as only a wild child can. Did she get lost in the stories in her head, or was she a practical, no-nonsense kind of gal? She must have been up for adventure to come so far so young. I like to think that some of my wanderlust is from her.
Though I don't know her whole story, I know one thing for sure-her life was filled with purpose and directed by the sovereign hand of God. No, she never did great things that made her well-known, but rather she did a lot of small things, like change diapers and soothe fussy babies. The greatest thing she is remembered for is walking faithfully with Jesus. Her children heard the gospel from her lips, mostly in Russian with a smattering of broken English here and there. When my own mother was a little girl, Sonia would read aloud to her from her Russian Bible. Sonia taught her children the truth about God. Sonia’s heart trusted the God she could not see. She trusted Him enough to give up all she knew to follow her husband back to his home and raise her children in a foreign country.
I am inspired when I think of Sonia. Her life reminds me that each of us lives in this time in history, in this place and with these people for a purpose that is greater than we realize. When I think of all the variables that may have kept Sonia from even meeting my great-grandfather, let alone marrying him and moving to America, I am amazed that I am even here. How difficult it must have been to move so far away. When I think about how many obstacles could have completely changed the course of an entire family. My grandmother, mother, sister, I and my four daughters may have never existed, and yet, because of the sovereign hand of God, we do. This is when it strikes me deep in my soul that every one of us is on this planet for a reason. It cannot be by accident.
This understanding changes the way I see my day to day. Too often I am overcome by what seems like meaningless, mundane work of laundry and one more story before tucking in little ones at night. But this is why I am here. The path I am walking during my very short time here must be traveled by me. No one else can do what I have been put here to do. To live on this planet with a heart that worships the Father, points others to him, and loves my husband and children in a way that glorifies God-this is why I am here. It isn’t fancy. Like Sonia, I may live a very quiet, unnoticed life, but the way I choose to live it will affect the generations to follow.
When I see the way my children are growing and becoming who God has created them to be, I am humbled by the role I play in raising and discipling them. I see all the ways I am unqualified, but God has chosen me to mother them. I cannot take it lightly. This may be the greatest work of my life. What an honor motherhood is for those of us who are called to it! Too often, I complain. I grow weary in doing good. I forget the legacy of faith that has been built by my ancestral mothers before me, that I am called to pass on to my daughters, and that they will one day pass on to their children.
Isn’t motherhood beautiful? Yes, I know the stretch marks and baggy eyelids are not so lovely, but they give testimony to the hard work to which we have been called. The sacrificing of our bodies and much needed rest for the sake of others.
Sometimes, our purpose requires day in and day out mundane faithfulness that can cause us to feel restless, like we are missing out on something everyone else seems to be a part of. Sometimes, it requires gathering courage we don’t have to step out in faith and move away from all that is familiar, trusting what we cannot see for things that we will never grasp in our lifetime.
Whatever motherhood has been for you, hear me when I say it is not by accident that you are here loving these babies. It is the sovereignty of God that has placed you here, at this time, doing this beautiful work of loving the least of these. Clothing those little naked babes, feeding their hungry bellies, wiping away their sorrow with gentle kisses and reassuring words.
You are beautiful, Mama.
I like to think of Sonia during my most difficult days. This has been a week of just that. The work is overwhelming, the obstacles have loomed large, my skill is lacking, and my heart is weary. But then I look at my great-grandmother’s picture and I wonder…what impact will my faithfulness to this task of mothering have on my great-granddaughter? Will she someday look at pictures of me holding my little ones and wonder about me? Will she be encouraged or ashamed by me? By God’s grace, I hope to live in such a way, that the legacy of my faith will inspire generations I will never meet to live wholeheartedly for Christ as God has created and called them to.
My prayer for you today is that you will have eyes to see beyond the dirty diapers and piles of laundry for a moment. May you catch a glimpse of the bigger picture that is being painted through your life by the Master Artist's all-knowing hand. I pray that realizing your steps on this earth are established by God would encourage your heart, regardless of the obstacles you are facing. May you live with unwavering hope, that even if no one else knows your name, your children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren would hear of your faithfulness to God and praise Him for His goodness that is everlasting!
The steps of a man are established by the LORD, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the LORD upholds his hand. I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread. He is ever lending generously, and his children become a blessing.