Grief, Singleness, and Infertility on Mothers Day

The post below from the The Gospel Coalition blog is written by Wendy Alsup:

Mother’s Day is a tricky holiday. Like any holiday, it is sweet for some  and bitter for others.   For some, it’s both.  I remember feeling on  the outside looking in on  Mother’s Day, first as a single woman and  then after I miscarried our  first.  Our church had an entrance near the  nursery called the Family  Entrance.  Could I use it?  Were we a  family?  I finally just used it  regardless, almost as an act of  defiance.  Now as the mother of a 4- and 6-year-old, I can deeply  appreciate someone setting aside parking near an  entrance that kept me  from having to walk my toddlers across a busy  intersection.  But at the  time I was dealing with emotions that weren’t  swayed by practical  realities.  I just wanted to be a mom.  And that  sign at the church  entrance reminded me I wasn’t.

It is an age-old conundrum in humanity in general and Christianity in   particular.  How do you honor someone who has something good that you   want too?  How do you applaud the sacrifices of one without minimizing   the suffering of the other?  I don’t know exactly, but I do think there   is an overarching principle that is helpful.

Motherhood is not the greatest good for the Christian woman.  Whether   you are a mom or not, don’t get caught up in sentimentalism that sets it   up as some saintly role.  The greatest good is being conformed to the   image of Christ.  Now, motherhood is certainly one of God’s primary   tools in his arsenal for this purpose for women.  But it is not the end   itself.  Being a mom doesn’t make you saintly.  Believe me.  Being a  mom  exposes all the ways you are a sinner, not a saint.  Not being a  mom  and wanting to be one does too.  We may long to get pregnant,  looking at  motherhood from afar.  God sanctifies us through that  longing.  We may  lose a pregnancy or a child, and mourn the loss of our  motherhood.  God  conforms us to Christ through that as well.  We may  have a brood of  children of various ages, and heaven knows God roots  sin out of our  hearts that way.  It’s all about THE greatest good,  being conformed to  the image of Christ—reclaiming the image of God  that he created us to  bear through gospel grace.  And God uses both the  presence and the  absence of children in the lives of his daughters as a  primary tool of  conforming us to Christ.

Single woman watching your biological clock tick away, I encourage you  to look today at your longings through the lens of the gospel.   You  don’t have to deny your longing or talk yourself into a happy  attitude  for all the good things you can do without kids.  It’s OK to  mourn the  loss.  God said children are a blessing.  But after the fall,  we do not  all get to experience that blessing.  The gospel makes up the  difference.  While you are disappointed in deep ways and  that  disappointment is real, you will one day sit with Jesus in heaven   profoundly content with his work in you through this disappointment.   In  heaven, you will have no longing for something you missed.  You will   not be disappointed.  May confidence in that hope sustain you.

Married woman experiencing infertility, I encourage you with similar   words.  People can be callous with their words, especially in the   church.  But believe in confidence that God in this very moment loves   you with a deep love.  You may feel estranged from him, knowing that he   has the power to give you that sweet infant that he has given so many   around you.  It seems like he is dangling a desire in front of you,   teasing you with it.  But understand that unfulfilled desire is a tool he uses to give you even better things—things of himself that you   cannot know in easy ways.  Believe in confidence that this time of   waiting is not just a holding pattern with no discernible value, but it   too is a blessing, albeit in disguise, as it increases your strength to   run and not grow weary and to walk and not to faint.  Wait on the  Lord,  dear sister, in confidence.

And mom who fails her children regularly (because that’s everyone else),   preach the gospel to yourself this day.  If you have any grasp on your   reality, you are likely painfully aware of every failure you’ve made   with your children.  And maybe you are fatigued by the fears of future   failure as well.  It’s okay that your children expose your own sin.  In fact, it’s the mom who doesn’t seem daily aware of her   failures that most concerns me.  Christ has made the way for you to be   at peace.  If you sinned against your kids, ask their forgiveness.  If   you are kicking yourself for your failures, preach God’s grace to   yourself.  Don’t learn to live with your sin—don’t embrace it with the   attitude “that’s just how I am.”  But don’t deny it either.  Be honest   about it.  You sinned.  You confess.  God forgives.  You get up and  walk  forward in confidence.  It’s called gospel grace, and THAT is the   legacy to leave your children.

Wendy Alsup is a wife and mom who loves math and theology. She is the author of Practical Theology for Women and By His Wounds You Are Healed. Wendy blogs at Practical Theology for Women.

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