Motherhood of a Different Kind
For years not having children made me feel less than; less than feminine, less of a woman, and less of a person. To be a woman is to reflect the nature and nurture of God. His breathing life into, watching over, anticipatory, comforting, protecting, nature. Nurturing is in our nature, but to only receive the blessing from it in the form of childbirth is missing out. And missing out is not something God has for us, nor is bearing children indicative of our value or place as women.
In the Old Testament, the only way the kingdom of Israel could grow and advance as a nation was through childbirth. Gaining more people meant fulfilling God’s commands, and politically it meant a greater army and being more powerful. Women are the only ones who can physically carry a child so this became a woman’s honor and value - to birth and raise children. Not having children was then culturally shameful.
Good news! Thank you Jesus for a New Covenant and new way of looking at things. Child bearing is now no longer the only way that the Kingdom of God advances. The Kingdom now grows and becomes more powerful through discipleship and spiritual Mothers and Fathers. For the barren, for the single, and the hopeful, this is our best news yet. The natural desire in us to nurture is not wasted and was never meant to be.
We have a place in the Kingdom of God. We have value, and we have a purpose. Spiritual parenting is one of the biggest needs the Church faces today.
This understanding changed how I felt about Mother’s Day and erased the pain for me. As a spiritual Mom to many, as a deeply loved daughter of my Heavenly Father, I have a place in Kingdom. My Father knows me and sees me and “parenting” in partnership with Him is the greatest Adventure I've ever been on.
C.S. Lewis in the Great Divorce, describes a woman who deeply inspires, stirs me, and gives me vision. I’ve prayed to live my single, childless years like hers. The call to Motherhood is one of nurturing and vision, and it’s for all of us. I pray you are as encouraged as I was. Read on:
If I could remember their singing and write down the notes, no man who read that score would ever grow sick or old. Between them went musicians: and after these a lady in whose honour all this was being done . . . only partly do I remember the unbearable beauty of her face.
“Is it?...is it?” I whispered to my guide.
“Not at all,” said he. “It's someone ye'll never have heard of. Her name on earth was Sarah Smith and she lived at Golders Green.”
“She seems to be...well, a person of particular importance?”
“Aye. She is one of the great ones. Ye have heard that fame in this country and fame on Earth are two quite different things.”
“And who are these gigantic people...look! They're like emeralds...who are dancing and throwing flowers before here?”
“Haven't ye read your Milton? A thousand liveried angels lackey her.”
“And who are all these young men and women on each side?”
“They are her sons and daughters.”
“She must have had a very large family, Sir.”
“Every young man or boy that met her became her son – even if it was only the boy that brought the meat to her back door. Every girl that met her was her daughter.”
“Isn't that a bit hard on their own parents?”
“No. There are those that steal other people's children. But her motherhood was of a different kind. Those on whom it fell went back to their natural parents loving them more. Few men looked on her without becoming, in a certain fashion, her lovers. But it was the kind of love that made them not less true, but truer, to their own wives.
…“Every beast and bird that came near her had its place in her love. In her they became themselves. And now the abundance of life she has in Christ from the Father flows over into them.”
I looked at my Teacher in amazement.
“Yes,” he said. “It is like when you throw a stone into a pool, and the concentric waves spread out further and further. Who knows where it will end? Redeemed humanity is still young, it has hardly come to its full strength. But already there is joy enough int the little finger of a great saint such as yonder lady to waken all the dead things of the universe into life.”
Motherhood of a different kind is more than physically bearing children - it’s about partnering with the Father to birth things in His children. Hoping, seeing, calling out, awakening, and believing – these also are marks of the mission of Motherhood.
Happy Mother’s Day to those you have natural children, those who have spiritual children and those who desire both.
*For my sisters grieving loss, struggling with infertility, and the longing for children in singleness, I sit with you here. I see you and my heart overflows with compassion. You are not alone. Invite you to check out my friend Natasha’s blog here.