I have several friends whose husbands have gone through the military’s basic training, which is 9-13 weeks of being tested and challenged beyond what one could imagine. They are pushed to their physical, mental, and emotional limit. Just when they think they cannot give anymore nor do one more push-up, sit-up, or mile-run, their officer tells them to keep going. Their sergeants push them and push them. But it is all for a purpose. The military’s goal is to train young men and women to be the best soldiers they can be and to remind them that they are no longer number one in their lives. There is much at stake on the battlefield, and there is no place for a selfish soldier who would leave his/her post in order to save himself.
The same is true in motherhood!
Nearly a month ago, God gave me the amazing honor of giving birth to our second daughter, Hannah. With an almost-fifteen-month-old and a newborn, you can imagine the chaos, joy, tears, laughter, and sleepless nights that have accompanied our house. In a very real sense, God has put me through what I have come to call “Mommy Boot Camp.”
These past few weeks God has continually brought my heart back to the truths found in Romans 12:1-2. It says, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” During the late night hours or the wee hours of the morning, God has, again, begun to train my heart, mind, and emotions.
Military personnel and their families understand this word. They are often called upon by their country to serve in a manner that could very well cost them their lives. Though I have never been in a situation where my actual life was asked of me, the Christian life is full of opportunities and moments of sacrifice. Instead of worshipping our selfish flesh, God desires that we sacrifice our flesh and worship Him. I wish I could proclaim that “sacrificing” for my family is always easy, but it is not. I am selfish to the core, and, oftentimes, I want to do what I want. There are times when my physical body does not want to get up for another early morning feeding, or change another poopy diaper, or deal with another temper tantrum. But then I am reminded that because of God’s mercy, my response to that mercy should be one of sacrifice. Jesus, on the cross, gave up His very life in order to redeem humanity. When life got tough and God asked one more act of sacrifice from Christ, He responded with a “YES!” He did not do it begrudgingly, instead, He offered Himself so that we might be reconciled to God. Because of Jesus’ encouragement and example, I can give; I can serve; and least of all, I can sacrifice “valuable” sleep for the sake of my children.
From what I have been told and can imagine, military boot camp is full of times of testing. As stated earlier, the officers push the recruits to their physical, emotional, and mental limits, and then they go one step further. Though, at the time, it seems cruel and inhumane, when the testing of battle comes, the highly trained soldier is grateful for those moments when they were challenged to go beyond their predetermined limits.
I have discovered that motherhood will test your limits, and being a mother of two babies will test you even more. But God’s tests are not in vain, and they are always for our good.
One big test I have encountered is selfishness. When I got married, I discovered my selfishness. (I knew about it before, but living with another person seems to magnify one’s selfish nature.) When I had my first child, I discovered that I was still selfish. And three weeks ago, when I had my second daughter, I discovered even MORE selfishness lurking within my heart. Some mothers are very skilled at immediately getting their children on the same schedule, but I do not possess that skill. When one wakes up from a nap, the other one goes down for a nap. When one stops crying, it seems like the other one begins crying. I get one fed, and then the other one needs to eat. The day is non-stop. There have been times when my selfish nature has screamed out for a reprieve, and I felt my limits begin to stretch.
This is a good thing because it is in these times of stretching that we must rely on the Father. We must depend upon Him and seek His face in order to give beyond what we thought we could give. It is these exact moments that He has predetermined for us to make holy, which is His will for us. Robert Mounce said, “Holiness of life rarely progresses apart from deliberative acts of the will. While sanctification is gradual in the sense that it continues throughout life, each advance depends upon a decision of the will.”
This means that we must choose to be obedient. Obedience is challenged in our desire to be selfish, but, in order to grow up in our faith, we must choose obedience. Testing of any kind is never easy, but in the end it will produce within us the fruit of righteousness.
The goal of basic training is to transform regular men and women into something they never imagined…a soldier ready for battle. This passage encourages us to live a life of transformation, which comes through renewing your mind. As a mom, it is so easy for the enemy to attack my mind. Most days I am tired: physically, emotionally, and mentally. This is a perfect recipe for Satan to go on the offensive. He rarely attacks when we are at our best, but he waits until we have been worn down and vulnerable to his schemes. This truth is the very reason we must keep our minds renewed.
How do we renew our minds? It occurs as we feast on God’s Word and keep active in our prayer life. Having children makes it difficult to have a daily quiet time, but it is not impossible. Your time with the Father may not look like it used to look, (complete quiet, a cup of coffee, and an hour feasting on God’s Word) but we must never cease to go before Him, begging Him to refresh and renew us. The first two weeks home from the hospital I was so tired that I rarely spent any time communing with the Father. As a result, I became discouraged and defeated over everything. I had a difficult time enjoying my precious little ones because I could not get past feeling defeated. Satan knew exactly how to attack, and he was in full force. THEN (Praise God for the “then” moments!) God reminded me that I had left Him out of the equation. Yes, life was forever changed. Yes, I had two little ones who needed me. Yes, I was tired and emotional. But, when I sought the Father and renewed my mind in His Word, He began to transform my outlook. Discouragement turned to encouragement, and defeat began to turn into victory. I am still in process, but how I praise the Father that His Word is powerful enough to transform this selfish creature!
Boot Camp is always a life altering experience for those who endure it. Yet, no matter how difficult it was for them, there is normally a thankfulness that follows its completion. These men and women have been tested beyond their limits, found transformation in the testing, and learned the power of sacrifice. As a mom, my prayer is that we would be willing to allow God to take us through His Boot Camp, which produces far greater fruit in us (and our children) than we ever hoped or imagined.
Amanda Walker is in the Doctorate of Educational Ministries program at Southwestern. Her greatest joy is serving alongside her husband who is the University Minister at Cook Baptist Church in Ruston, Louisiana, and being the mother of two beautiful daughters. In her “free” time she enjoys a good chat over a cup of coffee. Connect with Amanda on Facebook!
 Robert H. Mounce, vol. 27, Romans, electronic ed., Logos Library System; The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2001), 231.