I became a mom nearly 4 years ago. I had been married for 6 months at the tender age of 24. It was an unexpected beginning. There were not 9 months, stretch marks, or those awful leg cramps in the middle of the night to prepare myself for my firstborn. There was just a text message from my husband (while I was teaching my 2nd year nursing students about the labor process) about a baby abandoned in our little mission hospital. I remember being confused and a bit cautious.
I remember not wanting to meet this baby, because I had met so many before that I thought needed my (long term) mothering, and it was not so. There were those 14 girls in a home in North India that I cared for as my own. My heart ached for them all the day long, no matter how much time passed. I missed putting them to sleep at night with the same lullabies my mom had sung to me as a girl. I missed hearing them rehearse each of the songs and sing each other to sleep on that rooftop in that dry, dusty town.
I have been hesitant to share in years past how much I longed for those 14. I would day dream of the mother-daughter bond we would have and it reeked of glory in my imagination. But my mothering of them, it was temporary, because those girls, though growing up in a system and apart from their parents, either thru death, addiction, or poverty, were not to be mine. I could fight it, and I did for a time, but in the end Abba God softened my heart. He allowed me to see that He gave me a mother’s heart for them, and that I was called to love them fully in those moments, but that they were not to be mine. Ultimately, they are His, as are all our children. But even in a non eternal sense, they were not my daughters and they never would be. Adoption was not an option and it was not what He had in store for me and them. He called me to foster love in those days. And He calls me to foster love in these days. He calls us to foster love all of our days, no matter what tomorrow holds or what our role in a person’s life is.
Then there were the 3 street girls whom my friend and I went and searched for. We sensed His leading and we risked it all to find them, convinced His leading meant they were ours. His leading didn’t mean a rescue and adoption by us, but it did mean hundreds praying on behalf of these 3 little ones, unknown and unseen by the millions surrounding them every day. It meant that their faces and names would not be forgotten by countless ones around the globe.
There have been more. There were people that took refuge in our home for periods of time that I thought I could call my child and there were children I heard of who needed a home whom I longed to bring into mine.
Yet none were to be mine. My heart started to harden and I could not bear the thought of meeting this baby in need of shelter. Because, surely I was not the one called to be his mother.
But I went down and met Adam. And Jesus came down and met me there. He showed me a glimpse of how all those other children whom He had called me to foster love into, were woven together to prepare me for this one. This little boy who was disfigured beyond anything my nursing textbooks were teaching me and my students. This little boy who had needs beyond what I thought I was capable of caring for. This little boy who was very different than what I intended to invite into my family.
I thought I was brave. But Adam, he taught me how to be brave. Adopting him has been the most challenging and most painful journey I could have imagined. It has led me into waiting rooms and forced fundraisers and it has brought me to my knees. I have felt death so very near and I have felt the sting of confused glances and hurtful comments. I have questioned how much pain one could go through and I have ached for Heaven and healing in ways I never knew earlier.
But I have found that whatever it is that makes us ache for Heaven, it is good.
And I was reminded it took a painful cramping and dilating and tearing of flesh in order to birth our Messiah…and it then took (His) tearing and piercing and cruel death to birth our redemption.
For there is a chasm in this life. There is this dividing wall of hostility from our infinite sin. And for those divisions to be reconciled, in order for us, far off, to be brought near, the labor of pain is required. The tearing of flesh to birth a Servant King and the tearing of flesh to kill Him to bring us back.
Pain is unavoidable in order to see Life.
I read of single mommas longing for a companion, yet trudging thru the trenches of raising children, fostering more, adopting others in. I read of mommas having to part ways with their earthly family far to soon, yet boasting in His goodness all the way Home. I know mommas losing their littles and having to bury their own and my heart nearly falls apart. I read of ladies, with momma hearts, who long for a child but keep on journeying as a childless mother and my soul longs for them. I know of mommas who give their child up to another to raise, and suddenly their milk comes in and the longing of their bodies cannot be satisfied though they know what they did was good.
I thought motherhood was scrapbooks, themed birthday parties, mini-me’s running around the house, and family camping trips. But those are but the fringes.
Motherhood is all of us, the hemorrhaging woman, desperate and full of wanting, reaching out to touch Him. Being a mother is all of us, bleeding and trembling, reaching out in our labor and our delivery…in our fostering and our adopting and asking Him who did the greatest labor on two splintered slabs of wood, on our behalf, to heal us and help us.
Motherhood will look different for us all. For me it started with adoption of a child who will know suffering to a depth many of us will not. It then introduced me to a boy who burst into my world in a wild, rushed frenzy of a labor and has been keeping me in a frenzy ever since with his wild natured ways.
But in those moments when I cannot keep up, He teaches me to look UP to the One who KEEPS me.
Because, momma, none of us can keep up.
But we can all look up to the One who keeps us.
And then motherhood birthed me this little 10 month old who came late and long and heavy. Inductions and tears and pounds heavier than his brothers, this little tub teaches me to ascend in praise even when plans do not go my way.
Motherhood aches and makes me labor and sweat and toil with emotions I never knew before. And stories surround me daily that only show me more of the toil. They show me that the contractions and the pushing are only the beginning of the labor, sweat, and pain it takes to raise a child.
So, mamas, and not mamas. We are all in this together. I know what it is to long for a child, only to find out that they are not yours. I know what it is to long to be part of a rescue, but to see your part be so much different than you wanted it to be. I know what it is to raise wild ones and fierce ones and sick ones. And I know it is hard.
But let us just stop trying to keep up and let us keep looking up.
Because He is the Author and is the Perfecter.
So if you are in a part of the story that seems unnecessary or futile, know that it is not. Each of these moments roll into minutes that stretch into hours that expand into days which yield weeks, months, and years and ultimately a lifetime. So whomever you find yourself with in this moment, love them deeply. Foster love in the truest sense and trust that even if the tomorrows are seeming different than you would like, true love casts out fear. Be steadfast and firm, for your labor, from Him, is never in vain.