As soon as I left her room, I had to sit down to write out that moment before it left my memory. She sat on her floor with one leg crossed beneath her and the other legs, knee bent up in the air. You know, the way kids sit that looks so uncomfortable. She had her books and folders and pens scattered all around her, working on her Algebra homework. The hairbrush and blow dryer was strewn amongst her school work, and her nail polish kit was set off to the side. I slid myself down into the floor with my back against the wall, to blow dry my hair and catch up with her on the day. She went through her homework, showing me a book report she did over Count the Stars, a book about WWII and concentration camps. She got a little teary eyed explaining it; she has such a compassionate soul. She then talked excitedly about the new book they were on, and how she was really getting the hang of algebraic expressions. We talked about basketball, boys, and nail art, and laughed about hearing dad griping in the other room over the video game he was playing. Her room smelled like her shampoo, fingernail polish remover, and had a slight smell of funky feet, but that was because I was sitting next to her gym bag. I had to sit there and soak it all in.
This week has been very emotional for me, because I am hitting one of the many “firsts” that we all encounter as parents. My first born is turning thirteen on Saturday. Thirteen. Over thirteen years ago I sat scared to death in a cold examination room with a Doctor who had just picked up the sound of a little heart beating wildly on the doppler machine. I remember the cold chills I got when the Doctor said, “You are about three months along judging by the heart beat, and everything else you told me. You can have an abortion anytime from now till late into your fifth month.” This type of talk is a requirement when you have a seventeen year old child come in with a pregnancy. Fast forward to thirteen years later, and I was just sitting next to the most vibrant, compassionate, most gifted person I have ever had the privilege to know.
Having her is what gave me the amazing title of “mother”. One of my greatest gifts came from my greatest faults. I remember being at a youth rally several months before I got the news that I was to be a mother, trying my best to keep my emotions intact while we sang “Break My Heart”. The speaker was talking about being a double agent, and how teens wear the masks of Christianity yet live double lives. I don’t remember much from the lesson, but I do remember sinking down into the pew feeling as if the man was talking straight to me. I had been begging God for a change in my life. I was so tired. I was looking for a way out, but had no idea where to start. I prayed for Him to break my heart, just like the song said, terrified about what that would mean, but craving something better. My prayer was answered, and my heart was shattered when my sin was exposed to the world.
“Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver, I have tried you in the furnace of affliction.” Isaiah 48:10
After the shaming, heartbreak, and the whispers subsided, God began to put my heart back together His way. He used the gift of motherhood to show me the relationship He wanted to have with me, and the love that I could experience as His child as I began to give this agape love to my own child. While pregnant, I read through the Psalms and Isaiah to help me understand God’s love for a broken people, and to help understand where to go once broken. The day I had my baby girl I remember holding her for the first time and being in awe of the instant and overwhelming feeling of protection, pride, and a burning desire to love unconditionally.
“For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you.” Isaiah 54:10
That moment is what started my journey as an authentic child of God, and as a mother. No more masks, no more games. No more thinking only of myself. God has blessed my husband and I with three beautiful children, and as the years fly by, He continues to use them to teach both of us about His grace, love, patience, provision, justice, mercy, and compassion. Over the past thirteen years, God has been raising this mom to be His child. I am forever thankful as my cup overflows with the joys of motherhood.
Sitting with my soon-to-be teen tonight as I reflected on who she is now, and who I was when I had her has reminded me that you can’t put a cap on a love that runs as deep as the love between a child and a parent. I look at her sweet face and am reminded so often of my heart breaking redemption.
“Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven because she loved much.” Luke 7:47
Thank you God, for choosing to bless me with this child, when I was so utterly undeserving. Thank you for sacrificing Your child, when I didn’t even realize I needed him yet . Thank you for giving us three wonderful children to bring up in Your glory. Help me continue to mirror who You are to them, and forgive me when I fail. Thank you for continuing to raise this mom through the experiences of motherhood. Each milestone celebrated, each lesson learned through parenting solidifies my desire for Your will for me. I cannot put my heart’s desire to praise you into words, but I know that You know exactly how I feel, because you are my Father, and know me well. Amen.