Pouring out What My Child Poured into Me
Each child gone ahead from among us is a precious person made in the image of God—and all having been made into Hope Moms, we together declare motherhood in each of our journeys. We are eager to go above and beyond in showing honor and love for one another (Rom. 12:10, 15). Through this series, we honor each other’s experiences of motherhood in love through our shared God of hope.
I began to taste the beauty of motherhood not when I conceived my first child but when I first began to give my life away in ministry to other women at the age of 13. Does that seem strange? It’s hard to imagine that 13 is the age when many in ancient times became mothers to children born to them. And though I was just beginning to understand my faith at that age, I began to invest my life in others in quite small ways, continuing to care for those younger than me spiritually as I grew in my own spiritual life. Perhaps this is a piece of what Paul is talking about when he references believers throughout his writing as his “children” (Phm. 1:10; Tit. 1:4; 1 Cor. 4:14-15; 1 Tim. 1:2). In our desire to nurture and care for children who are our own, we have the opportunity to invest in spiritual children as well.
Motherhood Was Awakened
I understood as I gave my life away to others that there was a nurturing, mothering instinct rising up. However, in the midst of 20 years of giving my life away in ministry to countless women my identity was never in my motherhood. It was in many things of course, some good and some not so good. But when I conceived and birthed a child, I experienced more than just a taste of this mothering instinct; motherhood itself became the very essence of who I was. Motherhood had been awakened in my heart and a fierce love like I had not known previously began to rise as I sought to nurture and care for this child in my womb—whom I had learned would not live once born, due to a fatal defect—and then grieve her loss all too soon. After my firstborn daughter died, I began to feel as if I had no identity apart from my motherhood. Who was I if I couldn’t mother this child for her life to come? How did my identity so quickly shift and all that I was before feel lost to me? The only thing remaining was what felt like lost motherhood. Or at least I felt it was lost.
The truth is aspects of motherhood had been a part of me for many years, even before I was married and had a child, and then it took on new meaning and depth the moment I conceived and birthed this beautiful child. It was like an explosion of love poured forth from my heart when I saw this broken and yet beautiful little girl pulled from my body. How could such love exist? Carrying her was one thing, seeing her was another. A fresh and new and giant love poured forth. It was a love I wanted to give to her, my first daughter, and yet 10 hours after she was born she passed away in the arms of her daddy, as I held her hand. That sense of lost motherhood was more a sense of having no one to mother, no one to give this new and fresh and full love too. But that was only partially true. Yes, for a time I have had to say goodbye to the one that awakened the mother inside of me, the one I felt all of the sudden made to love and protect and care for. But now, with no baby to hold and protect, where could this mother in me go? There were, of course, many I could give pieces of that love to, many for whom I could pour out this new motherhood awakened in me, but I didn’t want to. I wanted it to be only for the one I bore. It took time for my heart to open to the different ways God wanted to pour out what birthing a child had poured into me.
A Legacy of Love
We often resist giving away what we wanted to give to another but no longer are able to. We often resist when our offering of love is for a different purpose than what we thought. But that motherhood that is awakened in the life of a mother who has loved and lost so soon does not need to stay dormant until another child comes along, does not need to be hidden, does not have nowhere to go. It has places and people to go to, if we are willing to let it. If we are willing to allow the love that motherhood has awakened in our souls to serve as a vehicle to pour forth into those around us in need of the tender fresh love that a mother holds. It may not be your child who receives it, and it may trigger afresh the longings to give that love to the child you lost—but it may also very well be a healing piece of the grieving process where the legacy of your child carries on as you take the love he or she gave you and give it to another. Perhaps how we continue to mother the children no longer with us, is to give what they gave us to another. For once we conceive a child, motherhood is written into the very fabric of our hearts, forever there whether our children are with us or gone. And it is a gift from God to faithfully steward, even though stewarding it well may mean something far different than what we originally thought.
- LindseyHope Mom to Sophie and Dasah
Hi! I’m Lindsey. I live in Orlando, Florida with my stud of a husband Kevin. We have 3 incredible children, Sophie and Dasah who now live with Jesus and Jaden who came into our lives through adoption. We have a very energetic golden retriever and love living in the sunshine state. I get to spend my days loving on my son, investing my life in college students here through a non-profit organization we’re a part of and when I have time, writing on my blog about the hope that doesn’t disappoint!
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