A hurricane made me a mother and my life has been a whirlwind ever since.
Two hurricanes crashed into our little town within weeks of each other during my final month of pregnancy. Little did I know that the chaos surrounding my son’s birth and the destruction left behind in our town was a hint of how the early years of my life as a mother would be.
Changes of Motherhoood
Motherhood changes, stretches, and challenges us beyond any expectation. Ask any mother and they’ll say they could never have been prepared for the lack of sleep and utter exhaustion that comes with having a baby. Many, if not all mothers, begin motherhood with a list of “I’ll always” and “I’ll never.” It doesn’t take long before the list gets crumpled up and thrown away when the reality of motherhood comes face to face with expectations.
Because the truth is, motherhood is so life transforming; there is nothing to prepare us for it. There is no guide book that could cover every scenario or situation we face. It’s like a real life game of survival where we have to always be prepared for any emergency, be aware of any potential hazards, anticipate problems, and be able to make do with whatever resources we have on hand. (If you don’t know what I mean, you’ve yet to experience a diaper explosion when away from home with no diaper bag).
Inside Out Transformation
But motherhood not only stretches our energy, multitasking skills, and crisis solving abilities, it also transforms us from the inside out. For me, the changes of motherhood have gone deep. My heart now knows things that I would never have known had I not become a mother. I’ve felt the piercing pangs of fear when my son was wheeled into surgery for the first time. I’ve felt sheer panic when my oldest got lost in a large crowd. I now understand sacrifice at a level I had never experienced and know a ferocious love that nothing can break.
I’ve also realized the depths of my weakness and helplessness. I’ve learned that I can’t control my children or what happens to them. I’ve come face to face with sins of selfishness, pride, and impatience as God used my children as mirrors to reflect the hidden sins in the deep crevices of my heart. Motherhood has been a catalyst in bringing me to my knees in brokenness.
While brokenness is considered failure in our culture, in the Biblical economy, brokenness is where the gospel flourishes. Just as new life buds following a raging forest fire, brokenness in motherhood leads to transformation and growth. In my own brokenness, God has showered me with his grace. He’s used motherhood to show me in deeper ways just how much I need a Savior. I’ve experienced afresh the cleansing power of the gospel. Where I once thought the gospel only mattered at conversion, motherhood has taught me that I need the gospel each and every day. I need the daily gospel reminders that Jesus came to bear every burden, remove all guilt, and cleanse me completely from my sin. When I fail, I need to be reminded that because of Jesus, God looks on my messy life and sees Jesus’ righteousness instead.
Motherhood has also taught me that God doesn’t call the capable, he makes capable the called. He takes my weaknesses and works through and in spite of them. In the upside down kingdom, God uses the unexpected to fulfill his purposes. He takes a man with poor speech and uses him to rescue a nation. He takes a poor young peasant girl and makes her the mother of a King. He takes uneducated fishermen and uses them to start his church. And he takes me in my weakness, failures, and sins and strengthens me to raise two eternal souls for his glory.
Motherhood is both the hardest job and the best job I’ve ever known. Perhaps it’s the same for you. When the hard days come and the sleepless nights are too many, when you’ve come to the end and can’t make it another moment, remember the grace of the gospel. Jesus came because he knew we could not be perfect mothers. He died on the cross so that we could be forgiven for each and every parenting blunder we’d ever commit. And he rose from the dead so that we could be freed forever from all our messes, guilt, and shame.
Ever since that day the hurricane arrived on the shores of my town, my heart has been walking around outside my body — and I’ve been forever changed. Some changes, like stretch marks, linger longer than others. But it’s the stretch marks on my heart that remain forever.