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Myth: Motherhood Is Natural, Instinctive and Easy

Karen Ehman


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When you stop and think about it, what in life is truly natural, easy, or instinctive? We don’t come out of the womb hardwired with wisdom and experience. We come into the world as foreigners who have to figure things out as we grow up.

If you are a working mom, you likely have a skill-set that took you a long time to hone. You studied for years, maybe even doing graduate work, to acquire the skills you need to succeed in the marketplace. You certainly didn’t wake up one morning having all the tools you needed for your occupation!

Or maybe you are a talented cook. You likely grew up with a parent or grandparent who passed on valuable cooking insights, techniques, ingredients, and recipes. You didn’t just step into the kitchen and immediately know how to cut an onion, tenderize chicken, knead dough, or even turn on an oven!

Even for people who have a natural gift or ability, that skill still has to be developed. I was born with an ability to sing, and for as long as I can remember, I was involved in solos, choirs, recitals, and just about everything musical. For years, I took voice lessons. Even through college, I was cultivating a natural ability that God had given me—but it still wasn’t easy!

Why would we think motherhood would be any different? Whether you are talking about breast-feeding, potty training, disciplining, cooking, schooling, or scheduling, we don’t automatically enter the world as experts in all aspects of motherhood. I wish we did!

Many women are fortunate to grow up with great examples in the home. Others are not so fortunate. Even with a great example, the truth is that watching and doing are two different things! Motherhood, while sometimes natural and instinctive, is never easy. And becoming a wise mother is sometimes downright difficult.

The bottom line is that wisdom takes work. I mean, even Jesus, God in the flesh, had to grow in “wisdom and stature” ( ). The Bible, especially the book of Proverbs, is not shy about telling us we need to work at gaining life skills.

Written from the perspective of a father passing on wisdom to his son, Proverbs contains godly advice about relationships, speech, hard work, purity, and more. The purpose of the book is not about just getting information; it’s about acquiring skills for life—wisdom.

This is exactly the meaning of the Hebrew word for wisdom, chokmah—skill. When the tabernacle was being constructed, God commanded “skilled workers” to make garments for the priests ( ). One could just as easily translate that phrase “wise workers,” Israelites who had honed and developed “wisdom/ skill” for making fine garments. To possess wisdom is not only to have information, it is to be able to rightly use that information.

Biblically, wisdom is skilled living.

So when we think about the book of Proverbs, we are being commanded to pursue skill in living. But this skill for living is not something we are born with. Notice for example

Take a moment and read that passage. Pay careful attention to how many “action” words are in the passage—words that are asking you to “do” something. As you read the passage, circle, write down, or highlight the action words.

Throughout this passage, the reader is encouraged to:

  • Accept words.
  • Store up commands.
  • Turn an ear.
  • Call out for insight.
  • Cry aloud for understanding.
  • Look/search for wisdom.

Only when the reader does all of these things will she “understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God” (verse 5).

Worth noting is that though wisdom takes work, it also comes with a promise. Verses 7-15 describe the different ways wisdom is a reward. Here are a few of the benefits of pursuing wisdom:

  • Wisdom enables success (verse 7).
  • Wisdom is like a shield (verse 7).
  • Wisdom can guard and protect us (verse 8).
  • Wisdom “saves” us (verses 12 – 15).

Godly wisdom provides protection from bad, incorrect, or even sinful counsel from others.

So what does all of this have to do with motherhood? Everything! The point is that we desperately need wisdom for raising our children. We don’t automatically know how to do it. We don’t always find it easy. Sometimes motherhood is the most frustrating work on the planet! So because we don’t come hardwired with wisdom, we have to “do” something about it. We have to actively pursue insight, skill, wisdom, and knowledge for the enormous task of shaping another human being. And when we do, it goes well not only for us but also for our families. Wisdom is worth the work to acquire it.

*Excerpt from Hoodwinked: Ten Myths Moms Believe and Why We All Need To Knock It Off by Karen Ehman and Ruth Schwenk. Used with permission.

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About The Author

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Karen Ehman is a Proverbs 31 Ministries author and speaker, as well as a writer for their Encouragement For Today online devotions that reach over one million women daily. She has written seven books including the popular LET. IT. GO: How to Stop Running the Show & Start Walking in Faith. Married to her college sweetheart Todd, together they raise their three sometimes quarrelsome but mostly charming children in the boondocks of central Michigan. There she enjoys antique hunting, cheering for the Detroit Tigers, and feeding the many teens who gather around her kitchen island for a taste of