Feeling pressured to do more in life? Laura Range reflects on the countercultural view that our greatest call to holiness is found in hidden moments.
"I feel like I should be doing more," my friend expressed to me one day as she juggled her 3-year-old and 1-year-old on a walk. She went on to tell me all the things her other mom-friends were doing -- one had a small business, one had a blog, one was pursuing a theology degree.
All around us, Catholic women are doing great things. It's beautiful to see women on fire for their faith starting podcasts, writing blogs, running small businesses and ministries. I love seeing the feminine genius permeate culture and media. Women have unique abilities that add beauty, goodness, and truth to our world -- and oh, how our world needs those right now. People of faith offer the light of Christ in every corner of this sometimes dark world. We cannot hide our lights under a bushel, right?
But every once in awhile, when I see a mom starting up a new project or ministry, something in my heart hesitates. Does she know she doesn't have to do that to make a difference, that her motherhood is also a world-changing opportunity? Has she first learned that her worth is not determined by her followers or her sales or her reach but rather by simply being a daughter of God? Does she know there's holiness in the hidden?
Social media has made it exponentially easier to have an audience, to have influence, and to be an entrepreneur. This can be and is a great tool, but it can also pressure mothers to feel like they need to be doing "more than just motherhood." My friend isn't the only one -- so many young mothers I've talked to feel that they need to have a side hustle to be making a difference or to feel fulfilled, a "blue flame" as one popular author calls it. We live in a culture that values big achievements, that counts followers, that reveres the badge of "influencer" as one of the highest honors. Our world applauds measurable success. There's an undertone that our worth is determined by how many we reach and influence.
I can't help but wonder if this subconscious message has seeped into our motherhood as well, particularly in a culture that already downplays the family and the role of motherhood. My generation seems to be more restless than the mothers before us. We have a greater need to be seen, to be known, to make a tangible difference. And while God absolutely calls us to minister to a broken world, it's important to remember that the most important part of that ministry begins in our own homes by ministering to our families. It can feel like a stark contrast to have your only "followers" be little feet pitter-pattering on the floor behind you, the only "likes" you receive in a day be from peanut-butter-stained smiles, the only "shares" being with the toys on the floor after a timeout.
It's easy to feel as if all the things we do in a day (often over and over again) as a mom don't really matter because they are small and unseen and quite ordinary. But the good news is our Faith measures things so very differently than the world. Jesus comes to us hidden in the Eucharist, after all. The Church teaches us that the smallest, most hidden things can be the most powerful and grace-filled. The rocking of a baby through the night. The tending to a sick child. The listening to a hurting teenager. Even the loads of laundry and dishes become transformed into a monastic offering when done with a heart united to Christ. All of these moments literally change the world. Not only do they serve your family, but they are sanctifying you, and because of the nature of grace, they can even be offered up for needs around the world and change the lives of people you've never even met. Isn't that incredible?
Sweet mama, do not feel pressured to make your mark on the world. You are making your mark with these beautiful little souls you are shaping and raising and who will live on for eternity. You don't need to do "more than motherhood." Only when we allow this truth to sink deeply into our hearts and souls, that everything we do, no matter how small and hidden, is holy...it is then that we are in the best place to share our gifts to the larger world. Until we can find purpose and power in the hidden, we will not find it elsewhere. Danielle Bean recently suggested in her Girlfriends podcast that when contemplating how to use our gifts, it's important to remember that our motherhood itself is a gift and we can dig into that in the same way we would explore the other gifts God has given us to use. If we are called to speak or write or sell or use our gifts in any other way, they will flow from our motherhood, not despite it.
So absolutely write that book, speak to that crowd, sell that handmade item on Etsy. But perhaps first ask yourself: is this an escape from motherhood or an outpouring from it? Am I keeping my primary vocation of marriage and motherhood a priority, or is it getting my leftovers? Am I pursuing this because of a need for affirmation and tangible success, or am I content even without an outside pursuit or audience?
I recently talked with my friend again. She had started to pursue a theology degree but stopped taking classes when she found out she was unexpectedly pregnant. She might resume her studies again someday, but for now she is letting go of her plans and allowing these new ones to take root. A new life is growing in her womb, a unique and unrepeatable little person with gifts and talents is being formed in a hidden place. To outside eyes, my friend may be doing nothing special, but she's participating in one of the most creative and world-changing opportunities God has given us women.
There's holiness in the hidden.
Copyright 2021 Laura Range
Images (top to bottom): Canva Pro; Pixabay (2016)
About the Author
Laura Range is an RN-turned-SAHM living in rural Ohio. A wife and mother of 3 (plus one in heaven), she is passionate about marriage and family life, redeeming the culture, and cultivating community. She enjoys cooking (and eating) tasty food, crafting and DIY, good books, little moments, and keeping it real. She runs a local miscarriage ministry and blogs at Life is Beautiful.