1 Oh, what joy for those
whose disobedience is forgiven,
whose sin is put out of sight!
2 Yes, what joy for those
whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt,
whose lives are lived in complete honesty!
(from Psalm 32, NLT)
This Mother’s Day Eve, as I think about what to post that will both express our lives authentically and encourage you wherever you are in your life, I’m tempted to just post a scripture and be done with it. After all, what can I possibly add to the many blog posts floating around out there about Mother’s Day? (See the bottom of this post for a few of my favorite links for the “holiday.”)
Yet, God won’t let me stay comfortable this evening. While it’s true that God’s Word is always the best thing to say in any situation, I feel His encouragement this evening to include some of my own vulnerability. As I try to write about Mother’s Day, I think about all of us who dread this second Sunday in May. My heart is heavy for all of us who are so tired and worn that calling attention to the reason for our tiredness and worn-ness is the last thing we want.
Some of us find it hard to celebrate being a mother when being a mother is so hard.
I remember how my heart broke every Mother’s Day that marked another year of my infertility. While I love and appreciate my own mom, I found it difficult to feel grateful on Mother’s Day when my heart felt so empty and abandoned. I understood Hannah’s grief first-hand: “Crushed in soul, Hannah prayed to God and cried and cried—inconsolably” (1 Samuel 1:10 in The Message).
And then it happened. All the prayers and all the waiting and and all the infertility treatments finally worked: I was pregnant! You’d think I would’ve felt elated, right? After waiting for so long and trying so hard and crying so much, I felt two things: relieved and terrified.
I was relieved that I was finally pregnant, that I was finally going to experience my lifelong dream of being a mommy.
I was terrified that I was finally pregnant, that I was finally going to experience my lifelong dream of being a mommy.
I remember, after the phone call from the doctor with the good news, lying on the couch and begging God, “Please. Let it be real this time. Let it be okay. Please, Lord, let this baby be healthy. I can’t handle having a child with special needs.”
Oh, yes, I did. I prayed that prayer. And I believed it, too: I could only handle so much, and special needs were not in my repertoire. My mom had worked for years with physically and mentally handicapped children, and I’d recognized my own inability to connect with her students. It upset me so much to be around her students that I would visit her at work only after school hours, only after all the students had been dismissed and bussed home. Looking back on that immature, selfish, high-school me, I see now that my angst wasn’t really about those students. My angst was about a seemingly-loving God Who allowed such (as I perceived it) struggle and heartache. I know now how much joy and blessing I missed by not connecting with those kids.
I sit here this evening realizing that, among all the other struggles and blessings that they are, Cami’s hidden disabilities provide the God-given do-over for this selfish heart of mine. Time after time, I reach the end of my know-how, the end of all my teacher-training, all my intelligent assumptions, and I’m left with no idea what to try next with my girl. And time after time, God meets me in my insufficiency and proves Himself to be my El Shaddai, my All-Sufficient One, my Strength-Giver, my One Who is mighty to nourish and satisfy. Time after time, when I run to the Maker of my precious daughter, He shows me what to do and how to do it.
Mother’s Day feels a little like arriving at an art-gallery opening where the featured Artist hands me His most prized canvas and says, “Here. Sign your name to it.” And I say, “But all I’ve done is admire Your work and paint where You’ve told me.” And He says, “I know. It’s My gift to you.” It feels out of sync to be celebrated as the mom when I can’t take any credit for the beauty my girl is. God has done it all.
So I’ll do what I’ve done for almost 13 years now: I’ll enjoy the masterpiece that is my daughter and treasure the gift that she is to me.
I’m the one who is so stinking blessed.
*A few of my favorite links about mothering:
♥ Lisa Leonard’s When I Became a Mother on (in)courage’s blog
♥ Lisa-Jo’s Tired Mother’s Creed printable
♥ One more Lisa-Jo post: The (Real Life) Dictionary Definition of “Mother”
♥ Ann Voskamp’s Why Mother’s Day Is For the Birds
Praying you take time to breathe in El Shaddai’s love and grace.
He is all you need.