“I am content to fill a little space if God be glorified.” Such was the heart of Susannah Wesley. Ever heard of her? She filled a little space, and in that space she glorified God and passed on a legacy to those of us who follow behind her—the legacy of a praying mother.
Maybe you’re like a young mom I spoke to recently: overwhelmed with a crew of little ones, all vying for your attention and filled to the brim with needs. She said her house was filled with house guests and bursting with 12 people and limited space. My friend closed her eyes for a moment (I think to keep from exploding!) when one of her little ones asked if she was praying. “Yes” she responded, “I’m praying!”
Her response reminded me of Suzannah. She is one of those women who encourages me from afar. She bore 19 children in 19 years, with nine dying in infancy. Raising ten children, with meager finances and a somewhat difficult husband (in eighteenth century England), put Suzannah in a needy position. Daily.
But historical records of Suzannah’s life describe a woman who saw her duties as wife and mom, not as drudgery, but as an opportunity to glorify God.
With enough children to count as a modern-day preschool, Suzannah was still very intentional in the loving care of her little ones. She survived the chaos by organizing their life with a practical schedule and sticking to the routine, and she invested in each child by spending time alone with each one at a specified regular time weekly.
Little ones need loving boundaries and protective nurturing that will cultivate a trusting and teachable heart. Suzannah realized this and developed some helpful boundaries in caring for her little ones. Some of these may sound archaic, but the consistency that Suzannah had in training her children in righteousness was the result of having a clear plan of action.
Sixteen Rules of Susanna Wesley:
1. Eating between meals is not allowed.
2. Children are to be in bed by 8 p.m.
3. They are required to take medicine without complaining.
4. Subdue self-will in a child, and work together with God to save the child’s soul.
5. Teach a child to pray as soon as he can speak.
6. Require all to be still during Family Worship.
7. Give them nothing that they cry for, and only that when asked for politely.
8. To prevent lying, punish no fault which is first confessed and repented of.
9. Never allow a sinful act to go unpunished.
10. Teach children to fear the rod.
11. Never punish a child twice for a single offense.
12. Comment on and reward good behavior.
13. Any attempt to please, even if poorly performed, should be commended.
14. Preserve property rights, even in the smallest matters.
15. Strictly observe all promises.
16. Require no daughter to work before she can read well.
Suzannah’s spiritual investment bore fruit. Two of her children, John and Charles, made a lasting impact on Christianity and even American history. John was used powerfully as a missionary and evangelist in the Great Awakening and Charles (also a preacher) wrote 8,989 hymns—an amazing number!
Mothering’s primary goal is to nurture our little ones in a way that will give them a hunger and thirst for God which will one day result in them loving Him supremely. You have the opportunity to impact your children through little daily choices you are making. How are you cultivating a hunger for God in your little ones?
Are you filling your little space with His glory?
Tomorrow, I hope to encourage you by sharing with you my “parenting manual.”