April Motl is a pastor’s wife who loves to laugh, loves her man, loves to talk on the phone entirely too long and most of all, loves her Lord. Collaborating with the efforts of her husband Eric, the two of them share a ministry dedicated to bringing God’s Word into the everyday lives of married couples, men and women. April has been privileged through her own church and ministry outside her local body to share God's Word with women ranging in ages and stages, across denominations, and walks of life. April is a graduate from Southern California Seminary and has written for Just Between Us Magazine, Dayspring's (In)courage, and The Secret Place and also writes regularly for crosswalk.com, iBelieve.com and Women's Ministry Tools. For more information, visit Motl Ministries at: www.MotlMinistries.com
Our son is nearing two years old, so I thought it reasonable to share a couple things God has taught me through motherhood as we near Mother’s Day.
The first is that life is a gift - a complete gift. For years we wrestled (and then settled into) infertility. At first it was a surprise, then it was a question (when/if we will have children), then it was just a settled fact over my heart. A closed door. I cried at that door. I stomped at that door. I sat, crumpled up at that door. Then I got OK with it. I learned to see the gift of God’s direction. And then, after nearly a decade of walking that road, we got a surprise. A shocking, total surprise! I was pregnant! I’m not sure I fully inhaled and exhaled that entire nine months. I tried desperately to hold everything loosely and to continue to lay my desire at the Lord’s feet. I’d just come out of some serious health issues, so it was the most unexpected time for us to get pregnant. During my pregnancy, two other women I knew lost babies; one at the end of pregnancy and one in delivery. My heart writhed for them, prayed for them, and I begged God to grace me for whatever He was doing with our family. The Lord brought our little one into our arms. There was adventure in the journey, a NICU stint, and twists and turns, but God breathed life into our desire to have a family. Our son is a privilege and a gift. And so is everything else that comes with him: sleeplessness, radically altered schedules, the fact that I’m pretty sure in the next decade I won’t wear a shirt that doesn’t have some kind of precious stain on it from my little man, all of it. A gift. And a gift that I so completely don’t deserve. I could see a million and one reasons why I shouldn’t be entrusted with another person. But I am so grateful that God graced me with his amazing little life.
Time and time again, Scripture records that life is God ordained. Creator initiated. Designer planned. Maybe having children has come more quickly and easily than you expected. Maybe, like us, it has been a slower process than you ever imagined. Either way, God gives life. It is right for us to honor Him for it and cherish it for the gift He meant it to be.
The second, is that mothering is wildly humbling! I read a ton before I got pregnant, while I was pregnant, and more since having our son. All these moms have so much figured out! I just don’t!
I ate really healthy through my pregnancy, exercised, and I wasn’t the “before and after” photo mom you see on pinterest. Not. Even. Close. Beyond the physical stuff, the minute I think I have got something down and in a rhythm, my son’s needs change and everything switches up again. Somewhere in the last couple years, I released that “all together mom” image I had conjured up in my head. (OK, it’s mostly released, sometimes after a pinterest binge I have to release her all over again, but for the most part, she’s been banished!) I don’t think God created the concept of motherhood for us women to add notches in our I’m-awesome-belts. It’s a service zone. It’s supposed to bring us to our knees. So while I’m down here picking up toys and humbled in desperate need for the Lord’s guidance and grace, I think I’m just going to stay. It’s OK if mommyhood leaves me a little messy. Jesus served, emptied Himself in every way, and let His children get Him messy too.
Maybe I will have learned more by the time next year rolls around. But one thing I am going to try to do is to savor this season. Nearly every time I’m at the grocery store, some older woman stops and “ooo’s” over my little man. And she makes a comment like, “When my kids were that age it was the best time in my life!” or “Oh! How I miss those days!”
Years ago when my mentor was moving and I was helping her with some unpacking I came across a photo of one of her sons when he was little. I asked if she missed her kids being little. She said, “You know I worked so hard at being present for their childhoods and when they were babies that it has just been a joy to see them flourish and grow into adulthood. I love who they have become and watching who they are becoming. I love those memories, but don’t exactly miss them.”
So I’m trying to be present. I’m learning (slowly) to buck all the years of programming that tells me I need to be concerned about doing instead of being. Learning to savor the gift of life and all that comes with it. Learning to let myself be humbled in new ways.
For all you messy moms out there, Happy Mother’s Day!
Join us for more encouragement via email, facebook, twitter, pinterest or at www.MotlMinistries.org. You can find encouragement for couples struggling with infertility in our devotional Waiting for God to Fill the Cradle.