Maybe on the good days of mothering, you wake up and the sun is shining. It’s easy to praise God for hot coffee, morning smiles from the crib, and a fresh day ahead. But what about the days when nothing seems to go right and everything seems bleak? Gloria Furman, a mother, pastor’s wife, and blogger at Domestic Kingdom, offers help for such days in her book, Glimpses of Grace ($14.99; Crossway, May 2013). As she asks, “Is the answer to simply live in the moment, stopping to smell the fabric softener every once is a while?” No, she reminds us. It’s so much more than that. On the really hard days, the veneer of perfect mothering and homemaking is stripped away and our always-present need for Christ is more clearly seen. “When we treasure God himself as the ultimate gift, the gifts he gives us become glasses through which we can see the sacred with clarity,” Furman writes. As always, Jesus is the answer to all of our needs. We emailed with Furman about what inspired her book and what inspires her to keep going on the hard days.
What did you want to say to your fellow moms with this book?
I wrote this book because I am so forgetful, and I’m not just talking about the “where’s my phone?—I can hear it vibrating somewhere in this living room” moments. We live our lives in the utterly mundane, which is punctuated by a few rare, massive moments. We can feel stuck in the everyday stuff of life or believe our work doesn’t really matter and make a difference in eternity. Women can be tempted to believe that excellent homemaking is the measure of our worth. I’ve experienced the sad reality that worldly wisdom has nothing to offer except disappointment, so I wanted to see what God’s word has to say about these things. The inspiration for Glimpses of Grace was a need to remind myself (and a desire to remind others) of the governing reality of God’s grace in our lives when we belong to Jesus.
What messages do you think moms—both working outside and inside the home—need to hear most about Jesus?
I’m glad you said “need” instead of “want,” because sometimes the only thing I want to hear is that the brownies are done baking in the oven. That’s a really silly example, but seriously, it’s so easy for me to live my life as if this minute with all my too-easily-satisfied cravings is all there is. What working moms and SAHMs [stay-at-home-moms] need to hear is that they are God’s image bearers. To borrow verbiage from C.S. Lewis, that means you’ve never met an ordinary mom. Every mom you meet is either one with whom you will worship for all eternity as you adore the Lamb who was slain for you, or she is one who will be forever justly suffering in hell for rejecting Jesus.
We live on the brink of eternity, and every one of us is just a breath away from meeting Jesus face-to-face. I think the message that moms need to hear most is that there is infinite joy offered to us through the death of Christ on the cross on our behalf. When we believe this good news by grace through faith, Christ saves us. This gospel also affects the way we live today, reminding us of the grace in which we now stand. Working moms and SAHMs need to hear the gospel, believe the gospel, and treasure the gospel. The short-lived pleasures of this world like dark-chocolate brownies fresh out of the oven are wonderful, enjoyable gifts, indeed. Nobody has to remind us of that. But we do need reminders that we have no hope apart from Christ, and it is only through the gospel that we are given Christ.
What do you think the greatest challenge is for Christian moms right now?
That’s a big question. I thought about this question for almost a week, and my answer kept changing! Over the course of that week I was challenged with the usual onslaught of temporary circumstances that feel like they mean everything. I have a nursing newborn who woke every hour and a half one night when I had counted on getting a luxurious three-hour stretch of sleep. I was preoccupied that entire next day with how exhausted I felt and was bitter toward everyone whom I thought was undeservedly well-rested. The trundle bed that our girls sleep on broke. So I googled and hammered and sweated and fixed it. Then it broke again.
My mind was fixated on how much trouble it would be to replace that piece of furniture. I couldn’t pass by the kids’ bedroom without being bothered by the dilemma of the broken bed. Every day I worried about what kind of day my oldest child was having at school. I failed to do something for my husband that I promised I would get done. He graciously forgave me, but still my sense of guilt kept getting in the way of our friendship as I conjured up feelings of estranged weirdness that weren’t even there. You see what I mean about things constantly changing? Perhaps the challenge of these temporary circumstances reveals what could be the greatest issue Christian moms face: understanding the enduring truths of God’s word and applying them to everyday, ordinary life.
Although valid, we talk so much about what’s hard in mothering. What do you think the greatest privilege is for moms?
To put it succinctly, I think the greatest privilege for mothers is in nurturing life. I don’t mean that we’re “pro-life” only in terms of being for the life that God creates and sustains in the womb, but pro all of life. Being “for” life is antithetical to God’s enemy the devil, who hates life and seeks to destroy life and all the life-sustaining gifts that God has given us. Moms have the privilege of being for their children and pursuing God’s glory in their lives—from the time they are embryos to helpless babies to booger-picking toddlers to maturing teens to adults. Our Savior rejoices in life so much that he gave his own life to defeat death and ultimately execute justice on Satan, the life-stealer. The author, giver, and sustainer of life—Jesus Christ—is the one who enables mothers to do what they do. Even on the hard days of mothering when you’re exhausted or grieved or frustrated, it is Christ in you who enables you to look at your child and feel your heart swell with his love. What grace Jesus has for moms!
What is one practical idea that moms can do to keep their eyes on Jesus?
Link arms with other sisters in Christ who are seeking to do the same thing. It’s too easy for us to get wrapped up in our schedules and our homes and neglect intentional fellowship with other believers. God designed fellowship as a conduit of his grace, and we’d be silly to neglect it. I can’t count the number of times in just this past week that I’ve received much-needed correction, encouragement, and prayers from other Christian women. Do whatever you need to do to receive mutual edification among sisters in Christ.
If you had to distill it down, where does Jesus meet you in the home? Where can he be found? Is it in washing the dishes and thanking God for clean, soothing hot water, or is it something bigger than that?
Just this week I thanked God for hot water, after it took two weeks to get our broken water heater replaced. By the grace of God, we received the new water heater, and by the grace of God, we persevered through cold showers. We most certainly fellowship with God as we praise him and “forget not all his benefits” (Psalm 103), and being made alive to God in Christ means that Jesus is much nearer to us than we ever imagined. One of my goals in writing this book was to touch on this idea as often as I could, so I do hope readers will walk away with a renewed (or new!) perspective on seeing these glimpses of grace.
Gloria Furman is a wife, mother of four young childen, doula, and blogger. She lives in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, where her husband is pastor of Redeemer Church of Dubai. Glimpses of Grace is her first book; her second, Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full: Gospel Meditations for Busy Moms, will be out next year.