“Okay, I’m just going to ask it.” The young mom took a deep breath. A group of us stood around, babies on hips, watching the older kids run around the park. “What do you moms think about…vaccines?” Her last word was spoken in a hush, like an inappropriate word. This new mom was seeking wisdom and advice, but she was afraid of stepping on a landmine. And she did. There were as many different opinions as there were moms – and each held to her opinion with a polite smile and white knuckles.
Moms, it’s time to loosen our grips. It’s time to admit that perhaps we’ve boarded the wrong train – a train we thought would take us to better discernment, but has actually led to fear, anxiety, and judging one another. I’m talking about the mania surrounding our kids’ health. Whether it’s vaccines, essential oils, gluten, GMO’s, or epidurals, we’ve made ourselves susceptible to a very sneaky lie. Not a lie that these things are important and worth researching. (They are.) But it’s the lie that our number one priority as moms is our kids’ physical well-being, and that the physical elements of this world are our greatest enemy.
In our church we recite the Nicene Creed every Sunday. It summarizes our theology and defines our Christian faith. Our seven-year-old enthusiastically busts out the first few lines from memory: “We believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth…”
As moms there is a strong temptation to allow our opinions to become creeds. We might not write them down or recite them out loud. But our hearts whisper to us that we are defined by our choices. It might sound something like, “I believe in GMO-free foods. I believe in the extended vaccine schedule. I believe in essential oils a, b, and c, but not d, e, or f…”
There is nothing wrong with doing due diligence to protect and nourish our families. Some moms deal with their kids’ debilitating health issues around the clock. But we’ve become imbalanced if our quest for physical wellness causes us to lose sight of our kids’ spiritual wellness. God’s Word helps us strike the right balance. In Paul’s letter to Timothy he reminds Timothy of what’s important: “Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” (1 Timothy 4:7-8)
Are we as passionate about our kids’ hearts as we are about their bodies? When our passion is misplaced we wind up fighting the wrong enemy. Perhaps we blame our kids’ behavior on a nutritional imbalance at the expense of addressing their sin problem.
How do we know if our priorities line up with the passage in 1 Timothy? The test is where we spend our time and energy. Our culture is defined by an obsession with research. Every mom can become an expert. But no amount of research will change the fact that we live in a fallen world. We will never reach a perfect conclusion. God’s Word, on the other hand, never changes. It contains “all things that pertain to life and godliness.” (2 Peter 1:3) Do we spend as much time in God’s Word as we do in our research? What would our kids say we are passionate about?
Part of the reason we pursue physical wellness with such passion is because we worship a secret idol: the idol of being guilt-free. What if we do something wrong? What if we feed our kids the wrong thing, or put on the wrong sunscreen, or use the wrong detergent?
When I had my first baby I was obsessed with doing everything “right.” I remember making my own baby food from scratch. I thought I was on the right track, but my research quickly proved me wrong. I made the mistake of making the baby food with store-bought vegetables instead of my own organic ones. Once the baby food was made, I froze it in forbidden plastic. I even made the fatal mistake of covering it with tin foil. The web said it was as good as garbage.
I was a mess. How could I do right for this tiny life when “right” seemed so elusive? The “right” way was actually staring me in the face. I just wasn’t looking in the right place.
God’s Word tells us the right thing to do for our kids – and it has nothing to do with organic baby food or BPA-free plastic. Are you ready? Our job for our kids is to “bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”(Ephesians 6:4)
That doesn’t mean we abandon our responsibility over our kids’ physical wellness. But we recognize that physical wellness is not an end in itself. It’s a means to a greater end: pointing our kids to Christ. Our ultimate goal is not to extend their earthly lives as long as possible, but to prepare them for the life to come. This perspective frees us from fear.
Jesus knew we moms would struggle. He knew we would be tempted to let physical cares cause fear. That’s why He lovingly reminds us to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)
There is a way to be guilt-free and it’s not by getting all of our nutritional ducks in a row. It’s by trusting a sovereign God. We trust His perfect plan for our kids – a plan that takes into account a fallen world, our weaknesses, and even our sin. We fear God, not our environment. In a beautiful logic-defying twist, fear of God produces peace. We acknowledge that He’s in control and He loves us. We recognize that everything we see and touch now will fade away, but we have an eternal hope to offer our kids. And when this physical world fails us again and again we remind ourselves (and our kids) of what David said: “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73:26)
Books by Sara Wallace:
“For the Love of Discipline: When the Gospel Meets Tantrums and Time-Outs” is a must-read for moms in the trenches. Theology meets practical application in this relatable, personal account of discipline in action. Available on Amazon, P&R Publishing, Westminster Bookstore, and Christian Book Distributors.
“The Gospel-Centered Mom” Bible study is a breath of fresh air for every mom in need of grace – both receiving it for herself, and passing it along to her kids. Written for busy moms by a busy mom, this study meets moms right where they’re at. This book is perfect for a group study or a personal devotional. Available on Amazon and Etsy.