When Mother's Day Hurts
Updated: Feb 4
There are many Mother's Days that live clearly in my memory. Ones as a child where I helped my sister and dad make breakfast in bed for my mom, picking a few weeds along with the wildflowers from the backyard to go on the tray. The one when I was 10 weeks pregnant and ferociously sick. The one when we dedicated Vera's life to the Lord in front of our families. The one where we attended the beautiful wedding of my brother-in-law and our new sister. Yet there is one in particular that will forever be carved into my memory in sharp relief.
Mother's Day of 2016 I woke up feeling an enormous void of emptiness. After years of trying and carrying a spark of life in my womb TWICE in the previous six months, I was not any closer to holding a baby in my arms. I went to church in cheerful colors and plastered a smile on my face, but those who knew us closely could see right through it.
I felt broken and my hope in the Lord was wavering for the first time.
The most painful part of that Mother's Day was the feeling I wasn't being seen. I was an invisible mother, not a "real" one. Satan told me that my babies didn't count and I would never fulfill my dream of being a mother. When the pastor told all the moms to stand up in service, I looked at my feet quickly, hot tears instantly prickling behind my eyes. Shame filled me from head to toe. I miscarried—even the name proves that it was my fault. I had done something wrong, and my babies were the ones that suffered the cost.
God did not leave me in this despair. He let me feel the grief, tasting it bitterly each day, but he didn't leave me there. In glorious fashion he renewed my broken heart, breathed new hope into my spirit, and drew me gently onto the holy ground of healing. It is hard to describe how tangibly I felt God's presence in the time after our losses (and the many months of fertility treatment that would follow.) He graciously yanked the fear out of my hands and gave me the strength to pick up my faith instead. In his mercy, he caught each tear I cried and accepted the angry fists I threw at him. He gently answered every prayer I had with, "Wait." After sitting in my pain for long enough, I finally responded with Psalm 130:5, "I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope."
God thrust me into the fire to transform me into a believer, wife, and then eventually a mother who more closely resembled his own image. He molded me and shaped me—painfully—to learn that I needed him more than my own dream of being a mom. He taught me not to be like Eve, fixated on the one thing I did not have.
He ripped the idol of motherhood away from me and lovingly replaced it with the only thing that could live up to my worship, withstand my sin, and remain unchanged no matter what would come.
And then, out of radical love and generosity, he gave me two good and perfect gifts [James 1:17]. Vera and Barrett burst onto the scene and my heart has grown every day that I get to call myself mama to them. There are moments of clarity between the sticky fingers, diaper changes, nap strikes, giggles, screaming, endless snacks, and beautiful chaos where my breath catches in my throat. These majestic humans are mine. God answered "Yes," not once but TWICE in two years. We are bursting at the seams with blessings and I can hardly stand it. While I was busy feeling God had chosen the wrong plan for me, God was working out his will in a way so much higher than my own.
This Mother's Day, I of course think about my mother, who first showed me the meaning of selfless and unconditional love. I think about my mother-in-law, who is the picture of a servant's heart. I think of the many wonderful mothers around me who daily teach me what it looks like to chase to chase after the Lord first and tiny humans second. But the woman I am thinking about most is my younger self. The broken, empty-armed mother from four years ago, full of despair and refusing to believe any good could rise from the ashes of her circumstances. I want to tell her that sometimes God's good gifts come in a giant, stinking, package of unrelenting pain. And it sucks. It is awful. This Mother's Day hurts, but God has a plan. It's better than you can imagine. So keep your eyes locked on the horizon.