Greeting cards will do a fantastic job at celebrating and honoring the role that many women are living out this month - the role of "mom" to children in their family. For some, this is a new role (like for me), while others may have lived, loved and labored in this role for decades. While I applaud the women (more than ever!) who daily wake up to this role with a willingness to lean on God and trust Him to use them in loving their children, it's the concept of motherhood in general that's on my heart today.
One of the lessons I've learned through my journey with unexplained infertility is that ovaries do not give you a family. God gives us family. And the other lesson I learned, is that God's kingdom does not increase through procreation - but by regeneration of souls through faith in Christ Jesus. If I want to be a life-giver, and be a part of family-making that lasts forever, my mind needs to shift from the temporal to the eternal. For even these 2 lessons alone, I can say that my suffering has not been wasted.
Motherhood has to be about more than birthing a child. Many women birth children, and never mother. Today I'd like to celebrate the women who wake up to the call of being a woman and lean on God and trust Him to use them in loving others - no matter what role they are living out this season. Today I'd like to celebrate women who walk with Jesus and are life-givers. So, Happy Life-Giver's Day, my sisters!
Listen to the heart of one of our life-giving sisters here at GFC, one I am happy to call my dear friend...
Mother’s Day used to be just another Sunday to me. Beyond sending my mother a card and calling her, I didn’t think much of it. In my limited experience, I didn’t know that anyone had a hard time with the holiday; it seemed benign enough to me. I found out that someone I know, unable to have kids, would skip church on Mother’s Day. I didn’t really understand her. It wasn’t as though the church singled out those without kids.
Today, I see things through a different lens, and empathize where I couldn't before. You see, I am not a mother, nor likely ever to be. And being childless at 40 is different than being childless at 20. These days, any reminder of what I have missed in motherhood can be difficult to process, whether it’s directed at me or not.
The world around me is filled with messages in praise of parenting: “Being a mommy is such a miraculous privilege and blessing” (seen on Facebook this week), “You wouldn’t understand if you’re not a mom” (said to me last month), and “Having a baby changes you. You’re never the same after growing, carrying, and birthing your flesh and blood” (read in an article this week). A viral online video this month lauds motherhood as the “world’s toughest job.”
If I allow these thoughts to sink into my soul, my takeaway is that I am somehow incomplete, because I have not experienced something I was meant to experience as a woman. I might feel that my natural purpose in life has somehow been thwarted, or that I’ll never grow like I would if I had children. I’ll think I am just missing out, period.
So I bring the issue back to God over and again: God, what is your truth on the matter? What does he say about me and my role as a woman and his follower? In reading what he says in scripture, I have to conclude that regardless of what is said around me, my best and true role comes from him.
The fact is we won’t all birth our own children. We may not even all be called to marry. Some of us may have children, but never get to raise them. God has however, called every single one of us to bear his image in the world. And as we reflect God out to others, we also reflect his mothering heart.
A couple of years ago, when struggling around this time of year, I asked God for help. I don't remember exactly what I prayed, but I remember coming across this passage: “Be very careful, then, how you live - not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” (Eph 5:15-16)
Another version says it this way, “redeeming the time”. Though I had never understood it before, I love this wording now. I went back and looked at Mother’s Day with new eyes, and asked how I could redeem the day. How could I keep from tuning out during the times that could cause me pain? How could I take my new-found empathy and use it redemptively?
I decided to try something simple to focus outward that year, and I wrote some notes to some women whom I thought might have a hard time with Mother’s Day. I wanted to let them know they are not alone, to encourage them in that time. This small act made me consider others over myself.
What I found was that in trying to reflect God’s love to other people, my heart was filled as well. By turning Mother’s Day into a time to give out instead of a time to shrink away, God stretched my heart. I felt a surge of hope that this season could be a chance to encourage others, and not a waste of time.
In the following months there were more opportunities before me to practice this in other ways. I started to understand that there may be purpose in life beyond, and even better, than what I had anticipated. We may have longings that never get fulfilled, though they are perfectly natural. But God’s purposes can be bigger than those longings. We have the chance to show God’s heart to those around us, regardless of our life circumstances.
Honestly, Mother's Day, and other reminders of my status, can still be challenging for me. I’m still learning not to just turn away from the pain. I’m still seeking ways to redeem my time, my imperfect days. This year may more of us “make the most of every opportunity” He gives us. I believe in doing so we will be truly fulfilled, regardless of our status in life.
Posted on Thu, May 8, 2014
by Lois Martin