My husband and I have a home. Its a precious little house with a robins egg blue front door and bright sunroom that holds many cries to the Lord in the midst of life’s most difficult circumstances. Not just my cries, but the cries of many others who have come through its doors. This sunroom has been a safe haven for many, where discipleship has taken place, where many prayers are heard and answered, and songs sung to a mighty God. I have sat quietly with a beautiful cup of coffee and rocked in my rocking chair back and forth with the rhythms of thunder and rains. This is a very special place for me. It’s no surprise to me then, that Saturday evening I sat in my favorite corner of the sunroom with a heart broken before the Lord. Here’s how I ended up there on Saturday night…
Ten years of marriage has brought some incredible insight of the Lord’s love for us fallen creatures, while solidifying His faithfulness to me even more. Brian and I spent the weekend in Louisville, Kentucky attending his classes at Southern Seminary and just getting away from the busyness of life TOGETHER. It was a sweet time where we could just sit an enjoy one another. Friday night we went to the annual Fall Festival at Southern. This is a yearly activity the school puts on for their seminary students and their families. As Brian and I walked around the festival, I was reminded that God is not finished with the suffering of barrenness in my life. I looked around and saw women my age with swollen bellies full of life and expectancy, big cheeked babies, tiny humans running and laughing and playing while frustrating their parents, moms and dads laughing, and even a little screaming a bit too. But, what really caught my attention was that families were walking around TOGETHER with other families. For a split second I found myself comparing my life to these families. Walking arm in arm with Brian, we just sat and watched people. We got back to our hotel room and I felt a wave of sadness wash over me. I found myself asking God once again, “Lord, how can I see you in my barrenness right now, in this moment of suffering, how can I see you?” In that moment I was tempted to believe a lie that the way God allows me to mother isn’t good enough.
Recounting the wondrous deeds of the Lord has been a weapon I use against the lies of the enemy. I began to hear Jesus speak in Mark 10 as I preached it to myself:
“Jesus said, ‘Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first’.”
These precious words of Jesus have been such a comfort to me as I have seen such sweetness in leaving behind the idea of what having children should look like for me. You see, my mothering comes in the form of caring for God’s children. His babies. The ones who are in need of love, nurture, comfort, and care within the body of Christ. For me it comes in the form of loving the 48 students I teach every moment even when they want to physically harm me. I poured out my disappointment to the Lord as a wave of thankfulness began to swell in my heart for all these ones He has given me to carry out the motherhood He’s graciously allowed me to experience. But what about the loneliness that comes with barrenness?
Well, that’s where the Lord met me in the sunroom Saturday night. Brian and I have a home. A home with 3 bedrooms. Only one of which is occupied with us. The other two are empty. What do you do with your family on the weekends? Do you attend your child’s ball games and cheer them on and endure the weather whatever the cost in order for your child to know they are important, loved, cherished? What do you do with your evenings after a long day at work? Do your children come running up to you screaming your name as you pull random appendages off of your own body? What about holidays? Do you expend all resources you have to make them special for your child? You see… All these activities are not only done WITH your child/children, but it’s usually done in community with other believers who share the commonality of child rearing. These are experiences that Brian and I don’t have. Yet, there is the time available. So we pour the time, energy, and resources back into the church.
Here is my desperate plea, then, to the church:
Imagine the love you have for your child… Imagine the depth to which you would move heaven and earth for that child. Let those in your faith family experience that kind of love. Allow your church family into your lives. There are those who worship in the same pew as you who are longing for the beauty that is family. There is a real loneliness of being a widow, widower, childless couple, single male or female, motherless, fatherless, orphaned, or whatever relational barrenness people experience. Be a daughter to someone. Be a son to someone. Be a sister or brother to someone. Allow your own children to be in deep relationship with those outside of your biological family. Let love continue to grow and grow as we become the faithful bride of Christ FOR each other. You see, Christ promised that IN THIS LIFE we will have these relationships given to us within the body of Christ. Please be the FAMILY of Christ for each other. Not to satisfy some deep desire or longing for relational intimacy, although that is part of it, but to glorify God in the fruits that are produced within those relationships, and seeing and allowing others to see Jesus in them and yourself in a way they wouldn’t otherwise encounter Him. All to the praise of His GLORIOUS GRACE!
Our home and our hearts are open to God’s children; my brothers and sisters in Christ. I want you to see the messiness. I want you to see the deep longings that I have to love fiercely. I want you to experience the freedom there is when seeing that your biological family is just a small part of the enjoying of one other. BE FAMILY with those that don’t share the same DNA as you. Please. For the sake of the Gospel.