In December of 2011, my grandmother was very ill, and we knew that she wouldn’t likely be with us for Christmas. One night, my dad called me from her hospice room, held the phone up to her ear, and let me tell her the news that I so wanted to tell her in person: “Mimi, I am going to be a mommy.” We don’t know if she heard me or understood what I was saying; a day or two after that phone call, Jesus brought her home.
What we weren’t prepared for is that just a couple of weeks after she passed, on Christmas night, Jesus called the baby in my womb home to Him, too.
This season revealed to me a grief I didn’t know was possible. How could I ache so badly for a child I had never known outside of my body? If I had never known it before, I knew it now: I was utterly dependent on the Lord at every moment. He was the One who got me out of bed every morning. And I depended on the gospel—I became a Christian when I was 6 years old, but I had never really understood the sacrifice God had made in giving up His child until I lost my own.
God’s “Ironic” Timing
Ironically that same year, on Easter morning—the morning on which we celebrate that death has been conquered, I discovered that I was pregnant again. And, on Thanksgiving weekend, almost a year after our first child was welcomed into the arms of Jesus, we welcomed our son, Reid.
The “ironic” timing of Reid’s birth isn’t lost on me. I don’t think it’s coincidental that me finding out I was pregnant aligned with the season in which we celebrate Christ’s resurrection and Reid’s birth occurring in a season when we remember to be grateful. But, to be honest, that year was an absolute rollercoaster of emotions, a time where I completely wrestled with God. I doubted my faith. I questioned his goodness. I didn’t know if I trusted Him completely.
How could it be bad for me to desire something good—a family? How? Admittedly, when I was pregnant with Reid, I held my breath, just waiting for the other shoe to drop. My blood pressure would rise when I walked into my obstetrician’s office. If I can just deliver a healthy baby, I thought, then everything will be fine. All this fear will subside once I hold this baby in my arms.
The What Ifs
The problem, though? It didn’t. There was just a whole new set of fears that sat down in my living room staring at me when I rocked my baby. The “what ifs” started drowning out any logical thought I had. The waves of fear were so overwhelming that I didn’t know how I would have strength to make it through each day.
My doctor, my husband, my mom, my NICU-nurse sister—they all had to keep reinforcing truths. And then, one day during a follow-up appointment, my doctor (a believer) took out her notepad and wrote down this verse: “For the Lord has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and sound judgement.” – 2 Timothy 1:7.
It was a light-bulb moment for me. I wasn’t to walk this road alone—the Creator of the universe knew my name and gave me this child to steward. This child—he belongs to the Lord. Me having Reid? It isn’t an accident. God chose me to be his mother despite my weakness, despite my crippling fear, despite my inadequacy to be able to do anything in my own strength.
God is with us.
Immanuel means God is with us, and not just in the form of a baby who was born in Bethlehem, but in the form of a powerful King, a Mighty Creator, a Spirit who is our Helper. Our fears and suffering aren’t purposeless. God will use them for our good, and part of that good is being molded into His Image.
My friend, Ruth Chou Simons, has coined the phrase, “Motherhood is sanctifying.” And goodness, she is right. Motherhood has exposed my fears, chronicled my weaknesses, and amplified my flaws. It has brought me to my knees in grief and has had me storming the throne room with prayers of intercession. Motherhood has shown me that I am in constant need of “grace upon grace” and forgiveness—the likes of which only our God can offer. Motherhood has reminded me how little control I have and to worship at the feet of the One who has all control.
You see, being a mom has magnified my Savior for me, but not because of anything that I have done right or wrong. What grace!
When I fear, I am reminded that I serve a sovereign God who tells me fear holds no place in my life. When I am weak and exhausted after caring for sick children, I serve a God who allows my lungs to be filled with air and my body to function another day. When I don’t have a picture-perfect day with my kids and lose my temper more times than I would like to count, I am reminded that I serve a sovereign, tender God who meets me where I am again with forgiveness and mercy. When I doubt, God doesn’t abandon me, but pursues me until I turn my eyes toward Him again. When I grieve because of the death of my child, I have a sovereign God who has conquered death and offers us eternal life.
As moms, every day we have the opportunity to see glimpses of the beautiful gospel on display. May it compel us away from fear and shame and into worship. Because of Him, we have life in abundance and the gift of children. May He receive the glory on the day we celebrate all moms.