Then he arrived, this perfect little miracle. I took him home, quite certain someone would stop us before we got to the car, demanding to see my parenting license or certificate or something to prove I was able and prepared to raise him for the next eighteen years.
No one did.
We've made it through five years so far. Sure enough, I get a lot less sleep. I only miss my career occasionally, usually when I'm scrubbing orange juice off the kitchen floor or poop out of the carpet and muttering to myself about how I have a professional designation, dang it!, as though I am somehow above such menial labour. Things do require a bit more planning ahead, but in other ways they've become even more spontaneous as I walk through life beside these two wild boys who see beauty and wonder in things I wouldn't even notice. I still stay up too late; our eating habits go through highs and lows. There is way more laundry. My hamper overfloweth.
But nothing prepared me for the way motherhood would change my view of God.
Starting from scratch
Becoming a mother was the catalyst for a nearly unfathomable amount of personal change and growth. The sudden thrust into parental responsibility somehow became the permission I needed to throw out everything I'd ever been told and start from scratch, digging into His Word for myself. I wanted to pass on to my children a more accurate and encompassing understanding of God than I had grown up with. As I read the old stories with new eyes while also learning from those who had gone before, I discovered so much more of who God is, something more authentic than I had ever had before. Motherhood meant freedom.
Defining and refining
Just as I was discovering this God who was so much more than I'd ever known, my growing son was needing me to share it with him. Breaking down my faith and my understanding of God into terms that a toddler, and then a small boy, could understand was a challenge beyond what I had imagined. It demanded a complete defining and refining of my every belief. Was it accurate? Did I understand it? His questions became more difficult and complex as he grew. I would explain as best as I understood it at the time; other times, I could only admit that I truly didn't know. Those challenging conversations would drive me back to the Word, digging into it more for myself, learning, growing, stretching, then later revisiting the conversation with a clearer understanding. And sometimes that clarity was simply that I really didn't know, and I could accept that with peace. Motherhood meant refining growth.
He was already challenging me, this growing boy, with his questions and conversations. But then a second child lay in my womb and I was tired, I was impatient. And then I learned humility, seeking the forgiveness of a child and, what's more, having that forgiveness extended to me so freely and wholly. It put to shame my own habit of holding on to hurt, loving justice above mercy. I saw, too, how their own misdoings, such as a child's are, failed to change my love for them in the least. I received grace from them. I extended it to them. And in doing so, I caught a glimpse of how my Heavenly Father does the same for me. Motherhood meant forgiveness and grace.
Understanding parental love
I'd rediscovered God. I'd broken down my faith and understanding into the simplest of terms. I'd began to understand grace in a very real way. But motherhood wasn't done with me yet. As I lay in bed one night, marveling at my consuming love for a third child not even yet born to me, God whispered something to my heart: "That is but a reflection of the way I love you, My Child." More than doctrines and discipleship and details, God loves me in that intense, passionate, intimate, consuming way that I love my children - only His love is even more perfect and more complete. And beyond that, I was His child, and just look at the way my children love and trust and rely on me! I had understood God as Father for years, but rediscovering that from this side of motherhood left me completely undone, raw and open and without words. The wholeness and uniqueness of parental love was beyond my understanding before these children arrived in my life. Motherhood meant parental love.
I have so far yet to go on this journey, but I rest confident in the knowledge that He will bring to completion this work He has begun in me. In the meantime, I know He isn't finished using these precious children of mine to draw my gaze to Him, to deepen my understanding of Him, and to pass on the knowledge and love of the Lord from generation to generation. Praise be to Him always.
to the mothers,
to the mother figures,
and also to everyone else,
for you made us mothers
and through you
we have grown.
Today is the last day to enter the Mother's Day Giveaway for a chance to win a beautiful East African patchwork shoulder bag! Entries close tonight at 11:59pm PST, so head over and leave a comment on the post to be entered. Good luck!