As we are approaching Mother’s Day, I asked a friend of mine who is also a pastor’s wife, to share her testimony of what Mother’s Day means to her. I know you will be blessed by her story no matter where you find yourself in life’s journey.
Mother’s Day. A day filled with flowers, cards, candy gifts and giggling children, right? A day that so many celebrate with their own mother and truly cannot wait to be celebrated when you “grow up.” For many women, it is a day of shame, embarrassment and regret.
I did not get married until I had just turned 33. Although I felt like my biological clock was about to strike midnight, I also did not want to miss out on establishing a relationship with my new husband, Brian. Since I was pro-life and counseled at a crisis pregnancy center, we chose to use natural family planning. With all of the tools we had, we still had not conceived after two years of marriage. Realizing that my timing was not God’s timing, I took to His word. I studied the women who were barren.
Hannah desperately wanted a child with her husband. So much so, that she vowed to give said child back to God for His service. Although that sounded noble, I was not quite sure I could do what she did, since I know how Eli raised his own children. Next…
Sarah. Wow, pregnant at 90? I don’t think I would have the strength or fortitude at 90. Before that, she tried surrogacy, which did not end well. (At one point, a woman in our church actually offered that to us but since it did not work out well for Sarah, I realized that was not the option for us.)
Rebekah was barren and prayed for 20 years to conceive and had twins. I didn’t think I really had 20 years to pray, but twins would be nice. I would love to have two children from one pregnancy! Dream on.
Another generation and Rachel married Jacob and has the same problem! She prayed for 12 years to conceive and although she gives birth to two remarkable men, she pays for it with her life.
In all of those examples, every one of their prayers was answered over time. I read years ago, that “disappointment comes when we have unmet expectations.” It was my expectation to have a family. What if God had a different plan? If God never answered my prayer, would I still trust Him?
For me, I started looking at adoption and I absolutely fell in love with a little girl from Kazakhstan. I could not believe that no one had adopted her. I contacted the adoption agency and they said that although no one had requested information on her previously, now we were one of three couples that had just inquired. The first people to give a $5000 deposit could claim her. No problem – I went to my dad and asked him for the money. He denied me (he had never denied me before) because, he said, “I don’t think you should have to pay for a child.” Ironically, I am adopted. The money that my parents inherited from my grandmother’s death is what enabled them to cover their own adoption fees. Within a few hours, God closed the door on that little girl whom I have never forgotten. I still pray for her, from time to time, that she is with a family that loves Jesus and that she knows Him.
I started to realize over time that although I love babies, I didn’t exactly love kids. My life was really full. I had opportunities to minister to others in ways that would be difficult with children. I love spending time with my husband and traveling. Could I be content with that?
In August 2009 I received a call from my best friend who had been living abroad for some time and she told me they were planning to come back to the area and asked if their 15 yr old, Joshua, could stay with us for a few months to start high school until they returned. Our lives are crazy busy! However, we had just had an Evangelist sharing with us about stretching ourselves in ways that God could use us. When I mentioned the idea to Brian, he was all for it! Really? Some background – Josh, his mom (single at the time) and I lived together when Josh was little (2-4). I loved Josh, but he hardly remembered me other than visits and he had no relationship with Brian.
So Josh came. He has a great personality. Well liked. Funny. We had Nerf gun wars. We got a hamster (yuck). We would have talks in the hot tub and Brian would throw Josh out into the snow. Meanwhile, Josh was always being grounded by his parents via Skype. It was the strangest thing! As the time was drawing closer for his parents’ return and move to about 4 hours south of us, things just weren’t sitting right. It finally came out that Josh was being mistreated by his stepdad (who had adopted him). I won’t go into details, but I reached out to the school, the police, and social services and I was told there was nothing I could do – “You can’t just take someone’s child away from them.” Sharon (my now former best friend) insisted on meeting us so they could bring Josh home. Josh unpacked as fast as I was packing him up and insisted that he would be back – he would only be gone for the weekend. We dropped Josh off on February 22nd. He was not allowed to return.
I was heartbroken. Meanwhile, our church family continued to pray for Josh and a miracle for his situation. In October, Josh called! He had gotten a job with a cell phone company and he remembered my number. He would call and talk for hours. Finally, one day in February, he walked away from home and refused to return. He went into foster care and we went to court. The date? February 22nd. It was exactly one year to the day that we were finally able to see him again! Although the court’s goal is to reunite families, after undergoing psychological testing, they chose not to and we were able to take custody of a bouncing 160 lb, 5’11”, 17-yr-old young man.
We love Josh and we consider him family, but Josh has chosen to make some very poor decisions which resulted in him having to leave our home. Once again, I cried the whole time I packed him up! We have shown him so much love and grace in attempts of being examples of Jesus Christ. A year later he showed up driving a moving van. When we asked where he was staying, he said he was living in the van! Well, we took him back in, again. We found out that not only did he have a drinking problem, but he was also using some heavy drugs and had stolen from his best friend to fund his drug habit. We made sure he got sober and secured a job and he was even in awe of how God had worked things out. Then one day he disappeared. We didn’t know if he was dead or alive. We received just a few cryptic messages that we weren’t even sure it was him. We did not know where he was for two months. Surprisingly, one day he called. He had worked a few things out in his life and had gotten a really good job. That was 18 months ago. He still has the job – praise God! He is seeking a career in music and he still makes a lot of poor choices. He has never set foot back in the church.
Having Josh even for the time that we did taught me a lot! Josh has made many of the same mistakes I did, or his mom did, and it is honestly more painful to watch him make those mistakes and take the consequences for them than it was to make them myself.
In ministry, I have witnessed a lot of hurting parents. My dad was a pastor and my oldest brother (24 years older) spent many years in prison. Another brother (19 years older) was married four times. My youngest brother (2 years older than I) is schizophrenic and I am his guardian.
When you dream of having a family someday, you have a picture of what that family will be like. An expectation. Life is not necessarily that perfect little package you dream it will be. We live in a fallen world. If we had perfection here, would we still seek Heaven?
I realize how painful it is to have empty arms when all of your friends are growing their families. You run into someone from high school and they ask how many kids you have. Shame. Embarrassment. But what if God is protecting you? I know you think you could handle it, but doesn’t He know best?? If I had “my own” children, would I have ever taken Josh in? If I knew how painful it would be to have him and have to let go of him time and time again, would I have still taken him in? I do not know how his story will end and I beg God to reveal Himself to Josh! I would do anything for Josh to love and serve Christ.
Back to the Bible. In the Old Testament it was of utmost importance to the women to be able to have children because they were all waiting for a Messiah. If you were barren, there was no way you would be part of that line. In the book of Ruth, we see that Naomi has lost her husband and two sons and after everything she has gone through, has changed her name to “Mara” meaning “bitter.” Life had not turned out the way Naomi had planned.The most amazing thing takes place at the end of the book. Here we see she is once again called “Naomi” (pleasant) and surprise, surprise, she is holding a precious child, Obed. In Naomi’s grief and hardship, she would NEVER have imagined that in God’s timing and plan, she would be holding the child – that actually was in the lineage of Christ!
So this Mother’s Day, I pray that you would be able to “rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” as Romans 12:15 says. Look for ways that God would have you minister to those He wants you to reach out to. Maybe it is the mom who has a lot of little kids and never gets a break. Maybe it is sitting with a woman who has lost a child. The older person who has no family. You have so many opportunities to serve your spiritual family and God is honored by that!
My favorite Bible verse is Psalm 23:7 “Delight thyself also in the Lord: and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” The reason I love that verse is because if I truly love Jesus Christ, His will is my will and His desires become my desires.
Sometimes God has a different plan than we do. Will you trust Him?
So whether you find yourself with one, two, three or more children, or none; I pray you are allowing God to mold you into the woman He wants you to be. As Melissa said, “Sometimes God has a different plan than we do.” So are you willing to trust Him with that plan?
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