Sunday, May 1, 2011

the beauty, the wound, the comfort

I just read about my writer-friend's miscarriage. She compared her soul to a frail origami crane, yearning for release from the pain, fly to heaven, where she can hold and never let go. She wrote of the failure of not being able to bear, to bring forth the life that began inside. 

And I think about another blogger who recently wrote about her abortion, about the humility that comes from knowing she was the one who ended the miracle. About the pain, about the inescapable longing to hold the one she said goodbye to. (She writes of forgiveness and healing and hope, too.)

I think of one of my heroes who got pregnant in high school and courageously chose to carry her child, while culture screamed 'abort,' and to then place her baby in the arms of a couple who would raise her. I think of her pain, of her regret, even in the face of choosing right, of her longing to know the one she birthed.

And another, so many others, who silently pray and hope and suffer and try again to conceive. Who receive sterile words for conditions, for procedures, for tests, from doctors in sterile rooms, all the while, hearts bleeding inside.

Then there is the motherhood--come after the waiting, and for some, it doesn't ever come. The motherhood is beautiful and it is worth the stretch marks and the labor and the sleeplessness and sacrifice. But if refuses to be the escape from pain. It holds its own weaknesses, its own regrets and failures, its own reasons to feel incapable and unworthy. It breeds its own kind of burden, one that causes divisions and sects and labels for different kinds of mothers, all fighting to make good decisions for their children, all fighting to stave off the guilt monsters.

And I wonder what makes it so difficult to be a woman. 

Why a mother of five healthy children can still be plagued by her abortion decades past, why the mother of one adorable daughter still pangs inside when she sees a stroller past and her womb reverberates with emptiness, why a working mom feels less for not staying home,

why a stay-at-home mom feels guilt for dreading Monday, when the husband leaves and she knows she'll probably despise the pleas to play with the preschooler, to fill that juice cup just one more time?

We're insatiable, we women.

We who give life and love, we who nourish bellies and nurture souls, we want so much.

We want beauty and health for the ones we love, we want security and safety, and to know that we can do this thing, this being a woman, this becoming the mother, and do it well. And we don't want the pain, the guilt, the failure, and the uncertainty. But it all comes, it surely comes, wrapped in the promise, embedded in the cells of the embryo twisting deep inside the womb.

I wonder why this had to be our curse, why longing to contain and bring forth life became so closely intertwined with our identities. Becoming Mother is our power, our pride, and maybe God saw its mystery, its majesty, and considered how it might render unchecked in a fallen world. Maybe the wound of motherhood is a wooing of sorts, an invitation to fellowship with the One who started this whole giving life thing. He, after all, knows the pain of losing a child, the burden of raising rebellious ones, the grief of laboring, of carrying the promise of life, only to see it refuse to come to fruition.

I hear these stories and I am humbled. Stories of women who aborted, who adopted, who lost, who bore many, and I am filled with a new resolve to judge less, to carry mercy in my thoughts towards all.

Motherhood is beautiful, but it is no escape from pain. And with the tears, no matter what the source, the quieted will hear a whisper from the very soul of Mother God,

to come close,

to grieve together,

to rest on the bosom of the One who knows.

"For this is what the LORD says:
   'I will extend peace to her like a river,
   and the wealth of nations like a flooding stream;
you will nurse and be carried on her arm
   and dandled on her knees.
 As a mother comforts her child,
   so will I comfort you...'"
Isaiah 66:12,13


  1. So thoughtfully written. Thank you so much for the time and care that went into these fine words. Motherhood is certainly not a guarantee of freedom from pain - not at all. But it is a richly unique experience of the mothering love of God, isn't it? I love to read good pondering - this is excellent.

    Diana at

  2. Thank you, Diana. It is good to experience God in the mothering--to receive his own heart, his own strength, and fellowship with him in the journey. I'm so grateful to have a God who invites me to soul rest.

  3. oh april, this is exquisite... "we're insatiable, we women"... i love how you worded this. and amber from the run a muck is one of my favorites, also. what a tender heart you have...