The Revolution of Motherhood

When I became a wife, I advanced as a person. I (slowly) began to consider another person’s feelings, I (slowly) began to realize that my way of thought and action was not always the perfect path, and I (slowly) grew into someone grateful for the protection and release of control that my husband brought into my life. Going from single to married was, and in fact still is, an experience of sanctification, where I am slowly transforming from sinful and selfish to graceful and considerate.

Becoming a mother, however, was a revolution for me. It wasn’t slow, in fact it was instantaneous. And the change in me can only be defined as “a sudden, radical, or complete change”. 2

I became, literally overnight, a creature that I myself didn’t recognize. I transformed from a very practical person into one who was often driven by sentiment. I was overwhelmed with the insecurity and enormity of parenthood. I remember being in the hospital with my oldest daughter Grace on her second day of life, looking at this beautiful frail little human reliant on me for survival, and feeling utterly incompetent for the task. I was humbled. Before I was a mom, I was convinced I would be great at it. Since becoming a mom, I am painfully aware of how far I have to go. I have cried many tears over my girls, begging God to make me more than I am for their sake. I want to be better for them. I want to be rid of the things in me that hurt them – the anger and selfishness and coldness to their needs that often stubbornly remains. I am changed. Even my body changed, from angular and thin to curvy with pounds I cannot seem to ever shed. I was shocked at the power, both during my pregnancies and immediately postpartum, of the hormones that rushed through my system. It was profound, definite, and sudden. I was altered by things completely out of my ability to control. I was vulnerable. My first daughter was sick through most of her first year of life with kidney and esophageal reflux, and I was acutely aware of how little I could do to control her health and welfare. I would pray over my girls’  beds as they went to sleep, begging the Lord to protect them and fight for them through the night. I so often felt powerless, but for God. It made me desperate for Him – fully aware of my dependence. As they grew older, I would watch them on a playground, praying to calm my anxious mother-heart, watching for slights or falls and telling myself the truth that letting go is good for me and them. I have had to learn to hold my children in an open hand and not a clenched fist – daily lessons in trusting my Father’s heart for them. Parts of me have died, replaced by stronger stuff. My friends laugh about even the small, silly ways I changed. I went from a fast, reckless driver to a hands-at-10-and-2, slow, deliberate driver and I went from a person impatient with silliness to regularly shopping on the Disney aisle of Target and actually enjoying it. It was revolutionary.

When we left the hospital with our first child, we were terrified. We had this little person in our backseat, and we didn’t feel up to the task. If the hospital would have allowed it, I would have loaded my nurse Diana into the backseat with me. I was frozen with fear that I could not do this without her. Driving home (so slowly and carefully that we laugh about it now), the world looked different to me. I kept staring around me in shock and exhaustion. Was I really that different? Why did everything look so weird? The actual road to our house looked different, and it took me a moment in my ‘new mother haze’ to realize what had happened.

Here in Texas, we have thousands of different variations of pear trees. And during the 4 days I was in the hospital, the pear trees that lined our street had gone from fully green to fully bloomed with white. It was beautiful, and completely unexpected. In the dark little cave of a hospital room where I met my daughter, I didn’t see the gradual but complete transformation. But it happened, and driving home I experienced it, and I cried because it seemed a metaphor for what I was feeling.

It was like the world was new, and I with it.

My girls’ birthdays are a day apart and this week, as they do every year on their birthdays, the pear trees have begun to bloom. Every year when I see them change I am moved – remembering the change in me now 5 years ago. I tell my girls that all of these trees are their trees – that they bloom on their birthday as a sign from God that they are loved and special. And I believe it is true, and that I share in that blessing. The girls even call the trees “Gracie and Bekah Trees” and they squeal in glee when they see them. And I’m touched by them too. Every year their bloom is like my own personal love-note from the Lord – a reminder that every little death in me is good and only serves to bring life because of our resurrection Savior.

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up, do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and springs in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:19

Becoming a mother was a revolution. It has been the most difficult, overwhelming, priceless, beautiful thing that has ever happened to me. I am forever altered by it. I am constantly reminded that in my weakness, He is strong. I know now that I need Jesus desperately, and I’m so grateful for that lesson of dependence.

I have loved being a mother. This week, as my girls turn five and three, and as the pear trees bloom transforming the world once again, I am grateful that I was chosen, incompetent as I might be, to be Grace and Rebekah’s mother, by a Father that does not leave us in our sin and selfishness, but transforms us into people of grace and holiness like His Son.

We are all being made new, friends, and that is revolutionary.

*I am always aware as I write a blog like this that many of my friends, despite a desire for marriage and children, have not yet been granted that desire. I pray nothing in this blog would discourage you. A friend once told me that she believed she had gotten married early because the Lord knew she needed the sanctification of marriage to grow. I thought that was a great perspective and that idea resonated. I am fully confident that the Lord who loves us is good, whether He chooses to sanctify us through marriage, through greater lengths of singleness than we would desire, through financial or other difficulty, or through parenthood. I pray that today you would rest in the truth that the Lord has a perfect plan for each of His sons and daughters and that He loves you and has not forgotten you.

Naked and Unashamed

As far as the Lord has brought me in my fight against insecurity, certain things still make me feel uncomfortably vulnerable. For example, I have always been a little anxious about my education.

I only moved schools four times growing up, but one time I moved I went from a school district that taught grammar in the grade I was about to enter to a district that had taught grammar in the grade I was exiting. So, I was actually never taught grammar. I am a reader, so I can muddle through because certain things just look right to me, but I have this fear that there are major gaps in my knowledge of the English language.

So imagine my terror yesterday when I discovered a few gaps indeed did exist in my knowledge (those of you who have seen my wall on FB are laughing at this point). Did you know you aren’t supposed to double-space between sentences? Or that there is no plural version of the word toward? Oh heavens. As my hilarious friend Leah said, this makes me feel dumb.

I had things I knew I didn’t know – like I know you don’t end a sentence in a prepositional phrase, but I have no idea what a prepositional phrase is. I know I only somewhat understand adjectives and adverbs. And I know when I had to diagram sentences in high school, I faked it.

But I didn’t know there were more! What if I’m fundamentally illiterate?

As anyone who struggles with insecurity knows, we tend to steer away from the things that make us feel insecure. So as you can imagine, blogging, at root, was really frightening for me at first. Before I even get to the matter of topic or expertise (ha), there was the basic matter of sentence structure I had to figure out. But I did it, anxiously, because I felt compelled to do so as a way to reach out to my former students from the ministry where I served throughout my twenties. And the Lord has been faithful to use this as a tool of ministry beyond what I imagined.

Isn’t it funny how often the Lord brings us to our point of greatest vulnerability and in that place, that scary weak place, He chooses to use us? How many of you will raise your hand and agree with me that sometimes the Lord takes you to the one place you said you’d never go, and in that place, He shows Himself faithful?

I have loved blogging, and I love the friends who care enough to read what I have to say. It has been a tremendous connection-point to many women and I’m not sure I would have come to know those precious friends had it not been for this experiment in vulnerability.

So yesterday I had a choice, I could freak out and attempt to correct the things I have written and make this blog that has always been more about heart and vulnerability than excellence more “correct.” Or I could laugh at myself and move forward, just slightly less blissfully ignorant.

I’ll be honest, I had a few moments last night where I actually debated the choice in my head.

I am trying in my adulthood to be about vulnerability, but still, every time, it is a choice. Do you remember in the garden when Adam and Eve were naked and not ashamed, before sin entered in and screwed everything up?  I think that when we choose to make ourselves vulnerable, to be naked with the people around us, we are a little closer to paradise. I think all of the posturing and presenting ourselves as perfect is a big part of what is fundamentally broken about this world (and a big part of what is wrong with the church).

Because Adam and Eve were always naked, they just didn’t know it until sin entered the picture.  I am always flawed, it is just when it is revealed that I have to battle with my pride and my instinct to cover it up.

I am growing in this.  Today I can say honestly that I really dislike vulnerability, and yet I love it.  I have found it is, without fail, more fruitful than self-protection.  Great things happen when I push through vulnerability. I knew I wanted to marry Justin when I was around him without makeup, in weakness, and he still found me beautiful. I knew my girlfriends were heart-friends when I could reveal my doubt and sin and they loved me anyway. There is something special about relationships that are honest (naked, if you will) and unashamed.

So last night I decided to keep being vulnerable here, trusting the Lord to fill in the gaps. I will continue to muddle forward in my writing, adding an extra “s” where it does not belong and double-spacing between sentences (because, really, how do I train my brain not to do that when I’ve been typing that way for 28 years?), with a generous dose of prepositional phrases and improper sentence structure sprinkled in. I’ll try to laugh more and take myself less seriously, as I trust the God who made me to get glory even in my weakness.

So I present to you today, Jen’s Naked Blog. (You should all be proud of me for not actually renaming it. Those of you who know me well just checked the title bar in a panic to see if I crossed the line.)

I hope you’ll join me in this endeavor, naked and less ashamed.

**By the way – I have discovered a new GREAT resource in my battle against insecurity, and if that is a shared struggle, may I recommend it?   Simply click this link to purchase Beth Moore’s new book, So Long Insecurity.