Today’s testimony is my own. It is a story of motherhood redeemed, and of generations rescued from the graves of depression, dysfunction and despair. I pray it brings hope and encouragement to you!
“My name is Beloved. I am 42 years old, and this is my resurrection story:
Today my quiver is full with 10 (yes, 10!) children. Today I woke up with purpose in my heart and with grace in my spirit to raise them up in the way they should go, believing God’s promise that they will not depart from that way when they are older. Today I have a sacred task to fulfill in raising these children to know the love of God, and to become lovers of God, by the way that I represent Him. And today, thankfully, I am able to embrace that task with joy and delight, knowing God is with me and will not forsake me.
But it wasn’t always this way. In fact, before I married, I wanted no children. I grew up in so much trauma and dysfunction that I was convinced I could never be a good mother. I have always loved children, but had a deadly fear of bearing the responsibility of ruining them, the way my parents had ruined me.
But when I married my husband, he came with two beautiful little girls, and loving him meant loving them. So they were my first attempt at embracing motherhood, and I did so more out of fear than anything else. I say fear because every time their big, brown eyes looked up at me, I became acutely aware that they were watching everything I was doing. They were listening to everything I said (and repeating it). I was literally shaping them, and it made me want to strive to be a much better person, for their sakes. And so strive I did. I went to church and I let God in, hoping He would have what I did not, and thus help me to become someone worth following. I was now, like it or not, an example to the children in my care, and I took that responsibility very seriously.
Not long after marrying and embracing my two step-daughters, God planted a desire in my heart for a child of my own. It was a scary thought, but one I couldn’t push away, and so I began to pray for him. Within a couple of months, I became pregnant, and 9 months after that, she arrived. I had asked God for a boy because I thought he would be easier to raise than a girl. I had asked for a boy because boys are simple. I had asked for a boy because I wanted to give my husband a son. But mostly, I had asked for a boy because I was terrified that I would have no idea how to raise a girl, because I was a 28 year old girl who still didn’t know a thing about who she was. How in the world was I going to lead a little girl from her first days into womanhood, when I had barely survived that journey myself, and was still trying to figure out what would come next?
I had stepdaughters, and I loved them with my whole heart, but there was some measure of that holy burden which did not rest with me, because I did not give birth to them. I knew I had an important role in their lives, and was determined to fulfill it, but at the end of all our days, I was still not mom.
It was different with my baby girl. There was no one else to hand her over to at the end of the day, and there was only me each morning that she would look to, for the rest of her life. Her father was working hard to provide for us, which meant he was gone day and night most of the time. So I had no one to share the joys and terrors of this new journey with. My family lived 3 hours away, and my husband’s family, although wonderfully supportive and loving, tended to mind their own business most of the time, leaving us to figure out this life on our own. I had God, but didn’t know how close God truly was. I was young in my faith, so my understanding was dim, and I trusted my feelings more than I trusted God, who felt way up there somewhere…a little too far to reach most days.
After my daughter’s birth, and in combination with my new married life fraught with stress and fear and loneliness, postpartum depression hit me like a tidal wave. I didn’t know at the time that it was postpartum depression. I just knew my world felt dark, and I felt hopeless. I was afraid of everything, and wanted to pull my baby in close and shut out the rest of the world. But as I did that, my daughter became a burden more than a gift, and I began to grow more weak and more weary by the day. Bathing and feeding her, and taking my stepdaughters to school each day became tasks which took everything I had, and I began to dread waking up to face them.
I remember vividly what was one of the darkest days of my life. I sat in the carport of our condo after dropping the girls off at school, with my baby in her carseat behind me. The blackness of despair in my soul was so heavy I could hardly breathe, let alone find the strength to get out of the car and take her upstairs. I gripped the steering wheel of my car and I cried out to God, begging Him to help me. I asked Him to send someone to take my baby girl and care for her the way she deserved to be cared for, and to lay me down in the bed and leave me there. I had not an ounce of hope in my soul, and the only thing that was keeping me alive was the fear that I had no one to take care of my baby. It was a dark and terrible day that I still look back upon with deep sadness. For a long time, I was ashamed of that moment as a mother, but today I have great compassion toward myself and any mother who has ever been in that place, because I landed there in brokenness, not in willful neglect. I wanted what was best for my daughter, but I was certain I was not that best, and I had no idea how to become better.
God did not speak to me that day. He didn’t send anyone, either. Eventually, I mustered the strength to take my baby upstairs and tend to her for yet another day. And the next day, I got out of bed and did the same. My days since then have been a repeat of the same track: get up and show up, asking God for the strength to love and to serve the ones He’s given to me. Somewhere in the middle of that no-man’s-land, as I waited and watched for God to do something, He did. In a moment, on one unexpected day, He delivered me from my depression, lifting it off completely and irrevocably. It has never returned. And in many moments, over the span of many days and many years, He has taught me how to be the mother He created me to be, so that He could bring more sons and daughters into my heart and home, so they could know Him and experience His great, deep, powerful and transforming love.
Over the past 15 years, God has brought 7 more children to my home. I have given birth to 3, and the other 4 were sent from broken homes. Oddly, I have become the answer to the prayer I prayed for my own child, but I have become that answer for another. I didn’t always feel ready for these children (even the ones I gave birth to), and sometimes had a good talk with the Lord about why I couldn’t take on another one. Afterall, I was the girl who wanted no children, remember? But He always won these arguments, because He has always reminded me of what He’s done, and of Who He is. He is the God Who is with me every hour. He is my help and my defense, my strength and my hope. He is the God Who created these children, Who has plans and purposes for them which He is able to fulfill. He is the God Who has loved me so well that I am now able to pour that love into each son and daughter He brings, and trust Him with providing the rest of what they need (which He abundantly does!). It is a partnership made in Heaven, truly.
As I pondered the journey of motherhood recently, especially in light of how many mothers I see today bowed low under the burden of responsibility, my heart lit up with a revelation gleaned from my own testimony. I realized that, while many mothers face the moments of wanting to give up (and sadly, many do), God desires to meet us in those moments, and lead us into the beauty of this journey. He is able to take a weary, frustrated mom whose experience has been filled with failures, and raise her up into the kind of woman whose children cherish her.
Motherhood is not easy. But it is sacred. We have been entrusted with raising the next generation, who will rule the world. We have been granted the privilege of leading lives into relationship with the God Who knit them together in a womb, with plans and purposes already written out for them. Far from being a terrifying and confusing journey, this is intended to be an absolute success, because God is in it from the start!
My heart is always open to God and to His desire to bring more children into our home. I get it now. And I trust Him to give me all that I need to do the job. But there is a new desire being birthed in my heart today, as well. I want to encourage mothers everywhere that God chose them – God chose you! – to raise up the ones He has given you. Just like He chose me, and didn’t excuse me from this sacred calling, He is waiting to heal you and fill you and make you into the kind of mother you long to be, but maybe feel like you just can’t.
He pulled me out of a grave of darkness, where I nearly surrendered not only my own life but that of my child, too. And He has filled our lives with beauty and knit our hearts together in love. It is still not easy, by any means. But it is possible, and as I agree to show up for the possible each day, God does the impossible. and we are still standing and still growing, together.
One Scripture that has kept my heart during these years of mothering is Isaiah 40:11, which says:
‘He tends His flock like a shepherd; He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those that have young.’
Today, I trust the gentle, patient leading of the Lord as I commit to loving my children with the same love which He has given to me. I no longer want to quit or pass this task off to someone else who might be better at it than I am. I know I have been chosen, and that God is able to bring out of me what I cannot yet see in myself.
I pray that you will discover the same grace, and that you will grow in it, so that you and the children God has entrusted to you will know the abundant life He gives to all who are His own.”