Special holidays like Mother’s Day can sometimes remind us that our story is not what we want it to be. Loss, infertility, unchosen singleness, broken relationships, unmet expectations abound in the lives of so many women; there isn’t one of us who doesn’t bear the scars of a painful story we did not choose to live.
But what of the painful stories full of darkness, despair, and deadness that, in the hands of a redeeming God, become tales of strength, wisdom, and new life? What of the dramatic U-turns that change the dirt road we are on to a coastal highway?
They exist, in you, in me and in the stories of the women that line the pages of the Bible.
Let’s go back to the time of Jesus.
Let’s talk about the person known by scholars like N.T. Wright as the most faithful disciple of Jesus. We’re not talking about the beloved John or the passionate Peter. We’re talking about the invisible to her culture, powerless to her people, and relentlessly loyal to her savior, Mary Magdalene.
May had followed Jesus in his days on earth, and now in his death, as Jesus lay cold and gray in His tomb, she continued to follow Him. When all the other disciples had decided to stay away out of fear for their safety, there was Mary, crying and keeping watch outside the grave of her beloved Yeshua. The teacher who let her sit at his feet, the one who looked her in the eyes and called her by name, the one who treated her as an equal, and as the child of God she truly was. Jesus was dead, but not to Mary, and she risked her life to see if there was something else, something more, something to everything Jesus said about new life, new kingdoms, and the age to come.
As Mary kept watch outside the tomb of Jesus, she was no doubt tired, weary, without hope, and facing the sobering reality that death fights to win against us all.
How are you?
Are you tired of not being able to do it all and be it all? Are you weary of hoping that this will be the year you will finally have a child? Are you losing hope that you will find the right person to start a family with? Are you fighting against the pain found in the death of loved ones, your dreams, or the story you wanted for your life?
Let me share with you a Mother’s Day story I would not have chosen for myself. It happened over a decade ago, but this twisting tale still shapes the woman I am today.
Benjamin was born on April 11, 2012, without event at a healthy 9 pounds, 8 ounces. I called him a strong Hebrew name in honor of the Jewish stepfather who loved me like his own flesh and blood and raised me as his own. The name Benjamin, which means, “Son of My Right Hand,” bore witness to the smallest and bravest tribe of Israel; Two traits that would shape those early days of my son’s life more than I could have imagined when I chose his moniker. Five days after Benny’s birth, my body would begin to break down, and I would be hospitalized, and this tiny little thing would have to turn from my breast to the bottle, from my familiar smell to the new smells of another household, from my maternal embrace to the embrace of his extended family.
Benny would have to be brave. And so would I.
I was too sick to care for Benny, and I only got to see him in my hospital room every few days and for brief periods of time. My own failing health, family logistics, and me telling everyone I was “ok” when I really wasn’t made my visits with Benny far more sparse and short than I could actually bear. I remember late one night finding one of his hand-knit booties tucked into the side of the hospital bed. This soft, blue boot woven together with love and little threads made my heart fall apart into a million pieces.
They had completed a life-saving surgery on me, but my immune system hadn’t quite caught up to this breakthrough. So there I was, tired, weary, without hope, and facing the sobering reality that death fights to win against us all.
As the infection raged in my body, neither my doctors nor my family knew what to do, and without possibility or plan, I knew there was only one to turn to. The God of U-Turns. The one who had raised my heart and mind to life when I met him at 17. The one who surprised Mary Magdalene with not just two angelic visitors, but a resurrected body. The one who could take any story and re-write it into something beyond human imagination.
I refused to watch TV, use my iPhone, or listen to music. Instead, I asked my friends, family members, and even some of the nurses to come to my bedside and pray over me. Together we asked and believed for Jesus to heal me. Minutes turned into hours, hours turned into days, days turned into weeks. Prayers ascending to heaven, and healing descending down. My body didn’t win, but it didn’t lose either. A stalemate. I wasn’t getting better, but I wasn’t getting worse.
Through nothing less than a miracle, my husband Jeff intervened with the doctors, suggesting a medication they previously thought I was allergic to, but some believed would work. They considered his idea and said yes. It was anaphylaxis or an infection that could turn deadly at any moment. I couldn’t see a way out. I couldn’t imagine a shift in my downhill story. A rock and a hard place; the perfect place for a U-Turn. They brought out a bag of Benadryl and a bag of Penicillin, and I brought out more people to pray.
There I was, tired, weary, without hope, and facing the sobering reality that death fights to win against us all. And there God was, reaching down, reaching in, reaching through the darkness, the despair, the deadness, and bringing new life in ways I could not have imagined. The new medicine worked, and after 2 weeks bedridden and in danger, I began the slow road to recovery.
I left the hospital on Mother’s Day 2012. I arrived home to my humble abode, 50 pounds thinner, exhausted, with fragile wounds, completely different inside my body, and unable to have more children.
I wouldn’t have chosen the story I lived ten Mother’s Days ago. I wouldn’t have chosen it for me or for anyone. But I would choose my life now and all the precious moments I get to have with my two sons and my husband. I would choose the faith I got to experience in that time of great desperation a decade ago. I would choose the tangible presence of Jesus I felt during the worst moments in that hospital room. I would choose the empathy, patience, and courage I got to learn through that season of great suffering. And, I would choose to have the opportunity to tell you right now that I am living evidence, in my broken
Are you a mother, soon-to-be mother, mother figure or woman hoping to be a mother? You are not alone. Do you need someone to pray with in this difficult season? Call our 24/7 prayer lines at 1-822-273-4444 or visit crossroads.ca/247prayer