The following is a guest review written by Joan Douglass.
Created to Care by Sara Wallace, P & R Publishing (2019). 160 pp. $16.99
If you have any further questions, please email Joan at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sara Wallace has written a book that addresses what may be a universal challenge for mothers: “How can I do a good job as a mother without being anxious? And why am I so anxious?”
Sara’s answer: “Anxiety and motherhood are linked for a reason. God created us to care. But he created us to care within the context of his perfect wisdom and his perfect strength — not our own. He chose weak and broken vessels to accomplish this task so that he will get all the glory.”
Throughout the book, Sara continually points us to the birds’-eye view of “mom issues” from a theological perspective and then zooms in for practical tips, stories, quotes, and examples from her own life. At the end of each chapter, there are two sub-sections: What Others Are Saying, where other moms give their thoughts on the topic being discussed, and Reflection, which is a list of questions for further thought and study.
Committing Your Motherhood to God
The first half of the book is dedicated to committing your motherhood to God. Wallace launches into this by saying, “Are you ready to do battle with anxiety? You can find great strength and comfort for this battle — but only in the cross.”
In the first chapter, Peace for Mom Guilt, she says, “Before you became a mom, perhaps the consequences of your actions didn’t seem so big. They usually only affected you. But now everything you do affects your kids. Everything — whether it’s good or bad. How do you know if you’re doing the right thing at any given moment? How can you protect your kids from your own weakness, incompetence, and flat-out sin?”
She lays out some helpful steps for dealing with this anxiety that burdens so many moms.
- Accepting our imperfection. “There is peace when we stop fighting against the fact that we are sinners and say instead, ‘I am the one Jesus died for. Yes, I am a sinner; but I am forgiven.’ Once we accept our problem we are free to accept the solution. We know that our kids will grow up in a sinful world with sinful parents and that they will need the same solution that we do.”
- Accepting Christ’s perfection. “So often, I feel like a mess — physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally. I feel like the sentence ‘It’s been one of those days’ is stamped on my forehead. But God sees something else. He sees a heart that is washed white as snow — a beautiful bride waiting for him to return.”
- God’s Part, Our Part. “Connecting our theology to our daily lives doesn’t always come naturally… We know God takes care of the ‘big stuff,’ but it’s our own failure that scares us the most… I want to encourage you: there is no separation between God’s part and our part. It’s all God’s part. He is in control of every part of our motherhood — including us.”
In the rest of this first half, she follows this pattern for four more chapters exploring other areas of motherhood where we can find peace by committing ourselves to God: 1) Peace in exhaustion, 2) Peace in prioritizing God, marriage, and kids, 3) Peace in prioritizing home, church, and self, and 4) Peace in peer pressure.
Committing your Children to God
The second half of the book shifts from committing your motherhood to God to committing your children to God.
She begins chapter 6 with Peace in Letting Go of Control and talks about 1) when control is helpful and when it is hurtful, 2) when to work and when to rest, 3) how to keep a quiet heart, and she includes a chart to help us analyze what we can control and what we can’t. For example, “I can’t predict when I will be wiping up barf…but I can do all things without grumbling [Phil. 2:14]. I can’t accomplish everything on my to-do list…but I can be faithful in the little things [see Luke 16:10].” She says, “I fool myself into thinking that my kids need a perfect home, a perfect diet, and a perfect education, when what they really need is a mom with a quiet heart.”
Chapter 7 is about Peace in Discipline. She includes a rubric to analyze our training strategy by asking: 1) What’s my motive? 2) Does this address the heart or (just) the actions? 3) Am I frustrating my child? 4) Am I mimicking my Heavenly Father? She discusses the biblical concept of sowing and reaping and points out, “We get ourselves into trouble with our discipline when we expect to reap during a season of sowing…sowing is slow…but soon the days of planting will be over. Now is the time to roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty.”
In chapter 8, she moves to Peace in Our Kids’ Physical Protection where she addresses: 1) Caring versus idolizing, 2) comfort for the “what-ifs,” and 3) comfort in painful realities. Wallace says, “The most practical way we can submit our protective instincts to God is by saturating our motherhood with prayer. There will be many times when we reach the end of our strength, knowledge, and ability to protect our kids — but we can never reach the bottom of God’s love and care. We are limited, but God is not.”
In the last two chapters, Peace Over Our Kids’ Salvation and Peace in Preparing Our Kids for the World, she teaches and reminds us of God’s sovereignty, and of the roles of faith, action, and prayer in mothering. As a helpful and practical guide for praying for our kids’ salvation, she offers a list of ten Bible verses to pray through and recommends using them as a 10-day prayer challenge, focusing on one verse each day.
She also discusses the balance of sheltering and equipping our kids: “Good sheltering is purposeful; it’s done for the sake of preparing our kids to one day leave home and be successful in the world.” “It’s not the four walls of my home that protect my kids. It’s not my arms. It’s not even all my good advice and internet research. God is the one who protects my kids…One day they will be out of my arm’s reach and out of my sight. But they will not be beyond God’s reach.”
As a mom of three myself, with one in college and two still at home, this book is one of the most comforting and useful books I have ever read on mothering. I wish I had been able to read it as a young mom starting out, but am so thankful God has used Sara Wallace now to encourage and strengthen us with her life-giving words and focus on Christ.
In closing, she says, “Your burden of anxiety is not pointless. It is directly connected to the tremendous, beautiful task of raising your children. And, as painful as anxiety is, we can use it to drive us to our Creator so that we seek his unending supplies of grace and help.”
“As you hold your children, don’t forget who’s holding you.”
Thank you, Sara, for this comforting and courage-imparting book that is helpful for all moms at every stage of motherhood.