“All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.” (Hebrews 12:11)
Happy Mother’s Day. I write that with the hope that many of you will feel blessed today. Perhaps you will spend the day with your children. Maybe they will call from another state, drop by for a visit. They will tell you how much you mean to them.
Or. . . maybe not . . .
Celebrating motherhood can be bittersweet for many. Some of you still long to be a mother, others of you have children in heaven. Some of you just. . . struggle.
I am one who is struggling.
I love my son. Unconditionally. But my days as a mother are different than how I had imagined.
My story is complex, and I cannot share it–because it is his story too. And I am scrambling, trying to figure out how to process it all, how to find joy each day. Years ago, I learned how to cope with my own illness, my past pains, by sharing it with you–unfiltered.
I have coped through confession. I have learned to manage it through finding the message in it.
My instinct is to try to learn my lesson from God quickly so I can run and share it with others, perhaps saving them a few steps of their own struggles. But when it comes to motherhood, my confessions must only be at the Lord’s feet. My hope must be in the changes He makes in me– not in a message I long to share.
God says no to me making it into a message. “No, this will take time. This is between you and I. You do not have to save the world. You are not God. I am God, and I have something to teach you.” I am not getting the Cliff Notes version of God’s instruction. He is digging much deeper into my heart. And my character. And it hurts. I realize how weak I really am.
There are areas of my illness that I have handled “well enough” on my own strength, and God wants me dependent solely on Him. I need God every day to cope with pain and deformities, bad news from the doctors, tests and treatments. But to receive that full submission to Him, He is using my role as “Mother.” It is motherhood that is bringing me to my knees–at His feet–looking up.
Hebrews 12:11 is a scripture that many quote to reassure mothers that when their children are unhappy about being disciplined to not feel badly. It is for the good of their children. When I read this verse this week, however, I heard God speaking to me.
I am the one who is being disciplined right now. Being a parent takes great discipline and we often think we will be overcome with joy every moment. Isn’t motherhood just like those Hallmark commercials? But being a mom is not always joyful. There are moments of sorrow. Fear. Questions. Tears. Helplessness.
I can attest to the fact that as a mom, I have experienced the widest range of emotions I never even knew existed. Between the sorrows, there are times of extraordinary joy, pride, and celebrations over the smallest things no one else would understand.
As a mom, I have gone beyond what I would have thought was possible with this body of mine.
. . . I have gone to battle at 7:15 AM–with bagels.
. . . I have hired advocates.
. . . I have driven long distances despite my anxiety on freeways.
. . . I have been woken at 7 AM sick from chemotherapy treatment, and spoken with an IEP team over the phone, when they scheduled a meeting without informing me.
And I have collapsed at the Lord’s feet.
Every. Single. Day.
Before I was a mom, I thought I knew what motherhood was all about. I thought it was about raising a child–and as a chronically ill mom, I thought it would be about chasing him at the park and worried about not being able to sit on the floor with him. But it is so much more.
This–motherhood–is how God will mold me. Motherhood is tool that will–I hope–make me more Christ-like.
But there will be many requirements. God has expectations for my own benefit. Motherhood requires patience, forgiveness, sacrifice, surrender.
How many times do I let him get away with that God?
How many times have I forgiven you, My child?
I believe God knows what He is doing. He knows this journey.
He knows my weaknesses.
He know my body.
He knows my son–and his precious heart. Because He resides there.
For all of this I am grateful.
My understanding of God and His relationship to His children is more comprehensive to me because am a mom. For our God, being a parent and sacrificing His own son was, I would assume, the hardest thing He has ever done. And yet, look at how Jesus fulfilled this part of the scripture. “. . . afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.”
I will never know where “afterwards” fits into the timeline of my son’s life and my own. It may be next year, 10 years from now, or even after my death, but for today, I will trust God completely; I will give Him–entirely–my role as “Mother” and wait with anticipation to see what He does with it.
Prayer: God, thank You for the gift of motherhood to so many of us today, whether it be through those we mentor, nieces, our foster children, or our own children. Motherhood comes in so many forms and we all need Your strength to endure what You have called us to do. Be with me always, reminding me that You are there through it all. Amen.
About the author:
Lisa Copen typed this with some difficulty because her son just broke the “Y” key on her keyboard. As she tried to fix it, she tried not to laugh that God made it the “Y” key (as in “why? why?”) Such is motherhood! She is the founder of Rest Ministries and she has lived with rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia since 1993. She lives with her son and husband in San Diego. She has been working on a book for chronically ill moms for far too long, because parenting keeps slowing down the progress of the book. However, it is up to nearly 600 pages, so a rewrite is forthcoming.
What thoughts about motherhood would you like to share today?
This video so accurately portrays what motherhood is all about. I hope you enjoy. -Lisa