Missional Motherhood, by Gloria Furman
14/30 | Started 02.21.22 • Finished 04.03.22 | 4 stars
I have had this book on my TBR shelf for a while now. I think found it intimidating because I realized I haven't done a good job of being one of the primary "missionaries" in my children's lives. But Furman's book is accessible in that she spends the first half laying out God's larger plan for the people of God and then, in the second half, showing women how to work within that larger plan. Nowhere is the second half a by-your-bootstraps read - Furman constantly points to Christ as the means by which we do this life-giving mothering.
Distinctly Christian mothering is done from a posture of weakness and dependence. We nurture life in the face of death by grace through faith in Jesus. The cross is everything to us—not a bonus prize or safety net. He has given us a cross-shaped, everyday ministry of mothering others, and he has redeemed us out of the futile ways that we used to mother. We don’t mother in order to obtain forgiveness, but we mother out of our forgiven-ness…. We are free from saving ourselves or pretending we are strong. We are free from mothering our children in certain ways in order to obtain approval from other women. Our children are free from the unfair burden of becoming our saviors or proving our worth.
"Nurturing life in the face of death" is a line Furman comes back to again and again and it's one with which I've had to sit. All of us face death but we women are specially called to bring the hope of the gospel to those we mother, in order that they might taste life after that death. At least I think that's what she's getting at. I'm still sitting with it. Also, I love how she doesn't "limit" this to women-with-children mothers, but rather calls all women to mother in some way through discipleship.
The so-called prosperity gospel would have you looking to God to “fix” your maternal weaknesses so that you overlook your deepest, most urgent need: atonement for your sin. It sure may look like you are being saved when you prosper materially and maternally. It may look like other women are being saved when they prosper financially, healthfully, or educationally. But Jesus is not a vending machine who gives you the stuff your heart desires. Jesus is your priest who gives you the atonement your soul needs. Run away as fast as you can from false teachers who want to sell you a god who exists for your maternal glory.
I'd recommend this book to mothers, of course, but also to anyone who is an older discipling woman (hint, hint: that's what all of us women are called to be). It is a dense read, and feels longer than the 200 pages it is. My advice is to go slow and take notes. You won't regret rehearsing God's promises and how we are called to mother in light of them.
If there is such a thing as being “just a mom,” then, sure, our purpose can be summed up in things such as potty training, working toward an illness-free childhood, or supporting children academically so they can be honor students or “make a difference in society” someday. But if salvation belongs to the Lord (Ps. 3:8), which it does, then our motherhood is missional. Evangelism is mom’s work, but the giving of faith is God’s. We exist to point people to the King in all our mothering moments as we nurture life according to Christ’s pattern and hold onto his promises.