I had always planned on motherhood. On middle-of-the-night feedings, hauling around car seats, wiping up spit-up, learning to change diapers one-handed. I studied all the tricks on getting littles to eat vegetables and the easiest ways to swaddle.
I was a teacher by nature. I learned the best by teaching others and motherhood seemed like the perfect fit. In teaching my children to know God, I would know Him better. Motherhood would please both Him and me.
The truth is that motherhood looked a certain way to me.
It involved a wedding and a 9-12 month wait. It involved a midwife and labor and a fresh squalling infant.
It didn’t involve a hormone crash, and years of silence. It didn’t involve a miscarriage and dreams that burned to ashes in my heart.
And because motherhood looked different than I expected, I almost missed it.
Oh, thank you, God, that You didn’t let me miss it.
I almost missed the fourteen-year-old boy who stuttered and stared at his hands when he talked. The boy whose home was empty of God and true love, who sought hope at my kitchen table. I served him coffee and he dumped in sugar and slowly, as the mug warmed his hands and time warmed his heart, he started looking up.
Eventually he began calling me, “Ma.”
And even though he left every evening and sometimes I wouldn’t see him for weeks at a time, he brought motherhood into my life. The hard kind. The kind where you pray and cry for the salvation of your child, where you fight off the enemy on his behalf, so his soul can rest and breathe in truth.
I almost missed the red-headed five-year-old and his baby brother who needed a safe place to grow. The children whose parents had been through so much hurt and pain, they struggled to keep their heads above water, let alone take the time to teach their children.
And for years they came into my house, day after day, and taught me how to be a mom. I told them the story of Jesus, over and over again, and they taught me how to open my eyes wide and see the wonder of farm life. They brought me Mother’s Day cards that said, “You’re the best part-time Mom EVER,” and I kissed their noses and squeezed them tight.
And I learned the joyful part of motherhood, where the children make you laugh with their wittiness, rejoice when they learn new things, and smile softly when they come to you for healing and help.
I almost missed the little boy who drained so much out of me. The one who appeared in my life when I least expected it and required every bit of energy I had. The little boy who just needed to be loved on. Day after day after day.
He was the child who didn’t know how to love back. Who struggled to form words that weren’t broken or hate-filled. Who would rather starve than eat anything except microwave popcorn, which was inconvenient since we had no microwave. He pulled and pushed every button I had and then sat there, eyes wide, expecting me to scream or throw things or cuss him out.
And I learned how motherhood hurts. How loving is required, even when your child fights you at every turn. How being a mother means tearing open your heart and absorbing the pain, without putting any expectations on the child to make it easier. It’s you standing in the gap for them, teaching and loving and showing Jesus– over and over, even when they stomp on your love and throw the food you made them on the floor you just washed, and scream that they hate you.
I almost missed the motherhood that came with all the little ones who traipsed through my house. The ones who taught me bone-deep lessons on faithfulness, true love, and grace.
I thought I would learn to know God more through teaching my children about Him, but I actually learned to know Him best by experiencing motherhood in a new way.
I learned to see the God who takes brokenness and builds beauty. I learned to embrace the goodness of a God who lets us wander in the desert, so we can truly know what Living Water tastes like. I learned that this God, the one I don’t always understand, is willing to pick up all the pieces of a life that implodes, and carefully form redemption out of the pain.
The God who turns the barren woman into the heart-mother of nations.
Motherhood surprised me. It shook me to my core. It arrived in my life when I least expected it, while I was crying over not being able to experience it, and I almost missed it.
Thank you, God, that I didn’t.
For more inspiration: True Mother-Love Belongs To More Than Just Mothers