I’ve become accustomed to hearing one side of weighty phone calls. Being married to a pastor means having to wait while curiosity and dread build. Last week was no different.
“Oh, no. That’s just awful. How in the world are they doing?” Benny responded. “I just can’t imagine….Thanks for calling; we’ll be sure to reach out to them soon.”
None of the scenarios I could have considered would have landed on what I heard when Benny ended his phone call. Just hours earlier, a dear and precious young couple with three little boys had given birth to a lifeless baby girl. Later that day I visited her in the hospital. It was one of the hardest visits I have ever made.
I saw the desperation of motherhood like I have rarely seen.
Over the coming days I want to talk about desperate motherhood. I’ll share from my own heart and life, and also from the lives of others. I also want to invite a couple of mothers to communicate their desperate moments, too.
Why? Because all mothers live desperate lives. You may have never lost a child, but if anyone calls you Mom you’ve likely experienced dark nights of your soul when you wondered if they would be okay. If you were doing a good enough job. If their symptoms meant something serious was going on. If hard things that mothers with older kids are walking through would come to your family. If you’ll hear from them when they’re older that your anger or selfish demands or irritability was harder on them that it now seems.
As you read this, you may be thinking whatever challenges you’re facing as a mom pale in comparison to losing a child. While the suffering of others can help us to more wisely manage our own comparatively light trials, please don’t minimize the impact of your own motherly challenges. Perhaps you have a special needs child who requires more of you that you could have ever imagined. Maybe the fatigue of working and trying to be a good mom leaves you wondering if your child is getting enough of you each day. Do you sometimes miss the toddler-turned-teen that keeps you awake at night churning over their lack of heart for God? Or are there times when you think you just can’t take the bickering and selfishness between your kids and feel trapped by unfulfilled dreams about what Christian family life is supposed to look like?
Desperate mothers aren’t just those who have endured tragedy beyond comprehension. While such moms are certainly objects of the tender compassion of God reserved for the sorrowing and broken hearted, your struggles are hard, too.
I’ve never held a dead baby and I can only pray I would have responded with half the trust in God that my friend has. But I’ve cried many tears over tantrum-throwing toddlers; spiritually wayward kids; sinful choices made that tempted me to fear; tension between Benny and me due to differences in how to handle things with young adults; fretful nights when the only thing that brought sleep was listening to worship music; and gut wrenching pleas to the only One who could “cause all things to work together for good.”
The desperation of motherhood comes in many colors. But each of us have something amazing in common: we serve a powerful and sovereign God. No fear or sin or grief or heartache is beyond His strength, compassion and grace. Nothing that has happened or will happen to you or your children can separate you from His love (Romans 8:28).
Whether you are expecting your first baby or are watching your children now give birth to their own, the sacrifices of motherhood last a lifetime.
But so does grace.