It’s been a long season of revelation in our culture, one where everywhere you turn someone is being outed for behaving badly. Even within a matter of days, this post will be old news. And since I write most of my posts/articles over the course of months, this post is already dated. But sadly, new revelations are always coming to the surface about sin, abuse of power, and women being hurt. So in many ways, talking about how women are treated in our culture is an evergreen topic—from the Bible until today.
A year ago a friend looked me in the eye and said: “Make that appointment I’ll watch your kids.”
I had been referred to counseling months prior by my OB/GYN, but had cancelled two appointments already, once out of fear and once because I didn’t have childcare. She knew my struggle since bringing Ben home from the hospital. I knew my struggle. I have had post-partum depression after all of my births, but it took me until after Seth turned one for me to realize it. But this was another level of darkness.
Every year, as Mother’s Day rolls around, we are met with a number of posts ranging from honoring mothers to exhorting mothers to manage their expectations of the day. There are posts that acknowledge that the day is hard for many women. There are posts that work to be inclusive. I’ve even written a number of these types of posts over the years.
Mother’s Day can be a tricky one for Christians. On the one hand, we want to honor the blessing of motherhood, both as mothers and as children of mothers. Every person was brought into the world by a mother, so we all have some stake in this day. But it also can be an incredibly painful day for many women, so for the Christian, the call to “weep with those who weep” rings truer than ever.
We are working through John in our women’s bible study this year and this verse struck me a few weeks ago when I studied John 13. I taught on John 15-16 last Thursday, and it stayed with me even as I looked at those chapters to prepare to teach. Sometimes we can forget that Jesus was human. He had friends. He loved people. And he felt betrayal.
I’ve struggled for a long time with fear over death. I now realize it all started when we lost our first child to miscarriage and death felt personal. For months after the loss I never wanted Daniel to leave our house. If God can take my baby, he can surely take my husband, I thought to myself. Of course, that is true, but I know now that grief makes you think irrational thoughts. Those were irrational thoughts. Those irrational thoughts have stayed with me through every other loss and every other threatened loss.
“Your uterus is no longer a safe place for these babies,” he said to me.
And with that statement, we were quickly sent to the hospital. It was February 4, 2013. I had a round of steroids, settled in for a few day stay in ante-partum, and waited and prayed that all would be well when we delivered a few days later.
A little after midnight (on February 5) my nurse came in and said “is today your birthday?”
In a moment that is sure to force any parent to eat humble pie, my son (unaware of my desire to keep up parenting appearances) threw his cup on the floor and stared me in the face. “I want more juice,” he said defiantly.
“Well, you definitely aren’t having juice now,” I said.
After a conversation about the behavior, my friend looked at me with a sense of relief. “It’s comforting to know I’m not the only one whose kids act like that sometimes.”
About a year ago I went for a run for the first time after hospital bed rest. After weeks of recovery from a c-section, I craved running. So I grabbed my running shoes and headed out the door. This might seem like a minor event, and it is in the grand scheme of things. People get back to running all the time after childbirth. I have before too.
Except this time, I haven’t.
The further removed I am from the events of last year, the more I see what happened as a gift. I wouldn’t call nearly dying, or nearly losing my infant, a gift. But the fruit that came from it is one. Like Joseph in Genesis, life in a broken world meant our suffering for evil, but God meant it for good (Gen. 50:20). He wastes nothing. It always serves his purposes—even in the darkness.
One of those gifts is seeing the world through new eyes, particularly regarding platform building and the world of self-promotion (especially in Christian publishing).
Like millions of parents who have gone before us, we rejoiced at the faint pink line that showed up on our positive pregnancy test in the early morning hours. We went to work as different people that day. We went hopeful. We went excited. We went with a smile on our faces, knowing we had a secret that no one else knew yet. I remember making my first OB appointment in my car while I was on my lunch break, lest anyone hear my conversation and know that I was pregnant. I wanted to tell people on my terms, in my way.
I never got that chance.