Come with me to the other side of the fence for a moment and sit with a sister in Christ whose daily life looks markedly different from your own.
Aubri reminds us in her reflection on “My Suffering Is a Blessing” that children are a blessing because God says they are, period. For, more often than we’d like to admit, the suffering that comes with mothering makes us feel anything but blessed.
Being the mother of five children, ages four and under can make it easy to feel more burdened than blessed and call my struggles, suffering. The endless work with little to show for it, the emotional strain of teething infants, defiant toddlers and helpless preschoolers wears on me; enduring fussy, fighting children and wondering if they’ll ever become kind, rational people; being needed by everyone, all the time and the worrying that I’m doing everything wrong.
Somedays I’m embarrassed by all the mess, noise and chaos that comes with a lot of children. The wreck of a porch strewn with tricycles, containers of dirt, old strollers and half-naked children screaming at each other; or opening the door to our van, loose diapers, sippy cups and crayons falling out onto the street and a load of fussy children tumbling out behind all that. My pride is damaged and humbled, knowing many people look at us and think, “I’m glad that’s not me” or “Don’t they know better?” I become so afraid of being “those people with all the wild, dirty kids.” It’s hard to fight the shame for what is all over my family; weakness, sin, failure all on display everywhere we go.
I fear being judged for living the only way I feel is right and godly. For embracing children and God’s authority over all of life and being thought a fool. I reluctantly confess that my own flesh feels like a fool! How many times have I pitied myself and been frustrated by those who look at us with a freak-show curiosity, resenting that we can’t even share the joy of an expected child without discouragement and comments of “concern” from loved ones who don’t understand our beliefs.
But my public cross is light compared to what I bear in private, in my heart where the sin of fear sits firm for days. I’ve had five babies in five years. I could have five more in the next five years. Pregnancy after pregnancy. I’m weary and worn down. Lord, how much more will you give me? How can you ask me to mother these babes well when I’m so tired, so scared and so angry over the sacrifices I have to make all day long?
In the trenches of motherhood it’s hard to feel blessed but that is true regardless of how I feel. I am blessed because God says I am. By His grace I can confidently confess that and give thanks.
I have to hold my hands open to God’s blessing of children because it’s right, not because I always want to. It’s foolishness to think I control life. God says that children are His gifts. He gives and He withholds as He wills. I can only live by faith and rest in what God has ordained. That is not easy—but what we are all called to do.
By God’s grace, despite my worries, I rejoice when I’m found to be with child again. I’m amazed that He would open my womb and our family to another life. I am blessed five times now with a front row seat of watching God’s greatest creations as they grow. I thank God for the moments I can relish my blessings, letting the mess of the day wash off of me; for the moments like none other when one of my precious children grins at me, puts their head on my shoulder or says something remarkable. I know that these moments are just for me. God is good. And He always provides grace and strength to make it through today.