The Gospel in Motherhood

This is part 3 of a 3-post series about motherhood.  Click here for part 1 and here for part 2.  Our regular bloggers, Melissa Abbott, Ellie Hamilton, and Sarah Ellen Edwards, will be contributing to each post.

Today’s blog post contains content that may be difficult for people to read who have had infertility, suffered abuse, had a miscarriage, and have trauma related to these events.

Q: How have you seen the gospel at work in your motherhood journey?

Sarah Ellen
None of my plans for motherhood happened the way I planned them at all.  Some will say “you adopted three kids and then you finally got pregnant” and I did, but I was also almost 40 years old when Hammett was born.  I love him and we treasure his role in our family, but let’s be clear, it was not my plan to have a newborn at 40 years old!
There was a point after Beck’s adoption where I finally surrendered it all to Jesus.  This trying to be a family and trying to control it all had to stop.  We had Beck and were told we would probably be able to adopt Anna.  Anna came to us as an infant foster care placement, but as time went on we realized she was not developing like Beck had.  I couldn’t fix this either!  She had to have multiple procedures on her eyes, mouth, and ears.  In isolation, they were all standard medical procedures, but for one little baby girl and her mama, it was a lot.  Then there was tons of therapy: physical therapy, aqua therapy, and speech therapy.  I remember just saying to God, “this is not what I planned, but you see the whole picture.  I don’t know what to do, but you do so I am giving this over to you.”  I still say that to myself a lot.  A daily breath prayer of “I don’t know what’s going on, but you do.”  
Parenting in and of itself requires us to preach the good news of Christ’s mercy and forgiveness to ourselves constantly.  I am not a supermom.  I am a mom who relies on a gracious God, a sacrificial Jesus, and a present Holy Spirit.  I also still screw up and try to control it all.  I have four wonderful and very different children who have a variety of needs.  There seems to always be new diagnoses for some of them and the trauma of adoption will always be something we openly discuss as a family.  
I have been very humbled as a parent.  I understand that I can hold both grief and joy over motherhood at the same time.  I never thought I would be a stay-at-home homeschooling mom of kids who are on medicine, who require so many different types of therapy and counseling, who look different from me, and whose futures at times seem so uncertain in the traditional ways.  However, my faith in a God who is in control so I don’t have to be, continues to deepen.  I sing HIs praises daily for this!  I am happy to say I don’t have it all together. I depend on lots of professionals, friends, family members, and the Holy Spirit to get through the days.  It is messy and often chaotic, but I am getting to join in on sharing the gospel with my kids and anyone our family encounters, and that is a gift that can only come from God.     

We did make it through all of that with Nash, and we survived COVID and all of the changes that it brought to our jobs and school too.  It seems that every time things feel settled and we are content, life likes to get spicy.  We were recently approached by a family from our old church about our interest in adopting a baby who has yet to be born.  The baby’s great grandparents are hoping their granddaughter will relinquish rights to the baby.  Meanwhile, they are already raising one of their great-grandchildren and we have sent most of our baby and toddler gear to them.  We would be starting from scratch again.  Also, I have been trying to work from home for a long time and recently got a position that makes that possible.  So maybe, just maybe, God is readying us for what could potentially be a 3rd child. It must be time to add a little spice to our lives!
It’s funny when you look back in the rear view mirror of the last several years, you can really see God is in the details, even the smallest of details. God places you in the right season at the right time. Walking through our adoption journey I met a new friend. That friend had suffered several miscarriages. I had not experienced one myself yet, but I was able to walk beside her through grief. Then she started down a journey of adoption, and it was so beautiful to be there for her during that process. Then when I had a miscarriage, that same friend was able to be there for me, sending me love and encouragement in ways I did not know I even needed. It’s beautiful to look back at how God knew and was providing for me long before I knew that heartache was on the horizon. As the old saying goes, God’s timing is always perfect, and that is so true even when we can’t see it. In this journey of motherhood I feel God’s winks and nudges regularly. Whether it’s a song that is uplifting, a piece of scripture, or just a conversation with a friend. I am not sure how it would be possible to get through life, let alone motherhood without that hope we are given from The Father. 

God gave me the grace before I started trauma therapy to commit in my heart to forgive my abuser, not knowing the extent of the trauma, but knowing there was trauma there. I knew that forgiveness was important for my freedom.  Even to this day, I have had moments of anger, but what my heart really longs for, is that my abuser would be able to acknowledge his sin and receive the grace and forgiveness of Jesus for himself.   The truth is he will pay the price for his own sin against me and against others if he does not admit the truth and ask for forgiveness.  There is justice for all sin: either Jesus bears the punishment for our sins or we do.  I need forgiveness for my sins and I want that for my abuser too.  It’s not about the child I never got to raise.  He is in glory!  He is perfectly loved and perfectly safe in a way that would never have happened on the earth.  So there’s grace in the reality that my child never had to bear the burden of this life because he is already in heaven with Jesus.
My survival, my healing, my ability to walk in freedom from the damaging effects of the abuses I experienced, my ability to have healthy and meaningful relationships, my desire to grow a family and teach my children to know and love Jesus,  is only because God has worked all things together for good in my life (Jer. 29:11).  Our God does not just want to heal us in part, or in eternity. He wants to be the visible image of the invisible God through His work in our lives and for all the days of our lives. Philippians 1:6 (NLV) says “ and I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” While the particulars of my story are different from yours, God has the same desire to do His good work in you.  No matter how complicated and nuanced your feelings about motherhood,  no matter how difficult your journey of mothering or being mothered, if you have had the joy of being mothered well, or a beautiful story of becoming and being a mother, Jesus wants to meet you there and walk with you as He makes himself known in the story yet to come.