By Sam Olson
Two years ago, I sat in a Mother’s Day service at the church we were a part of and I watched as the Pastor asked all of the moms in the congregation to stand. They were then each presented with a single rose and were admonished for their immense capability to love, for their patience, and for their faithfulness to God in raising their children to know Him better. I saw a few tears in the room as their joy became tangible, as they reflected through memories of when their children were even smaller, and as they smiled at their children’s faces with pride at who they would become one day.
I had tears for too that day. But they were tears of a different sort. I mean, I loved these women who were honored. They were my friends. And I was happy for their happiness, and I rejoiced with them at their many blessings. But my own heart felt empty. And as they smiled down at their children, I held back tears as I reflected on the hardship that infertility had brought into my life and the hope that I could feel so quickly fading.
Our Pastor that day reminded us of the biblical call for mothers. It only seemed right to refer to Scripture as we celebrated their blessing in church. But somehow that Sunday, Scripture had made me feel isolated. Hearing the biblical call to be fruitful and multiply and to raise children in the Lord, made me feel outside of God’s plan. I felt as though maybe I was the opposite of blessed. Maybe I had made a mistake at some point in my life, or maybe God didn’t think I was capable of being a mother.
I saw some roses left over after the service ended, and someone handed me one as we walked out. I remember feeling as if I didn’t deserve it. I didn’t deserve to hold beauty because beauty was not what I felt. I felt broken on our drive home as that leftover rose lay in my lap.
“In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the Lord.” 1 Samuel 1:10 NIV
GOD IS WITH US
When we pulled into our driveway that Sunday afternoon, I realized I had forgotten to get the mail the day before, so I walked down our driveway expecting to be greeted with unwelcome ads and junk mail. Instead, I found two pink envelopes with my name handwritten on them. On a day when I felt the most alone, and the most forgotten, two people had remembered me. Two people had thought that I might lose hope that day. Two people sent me handwritten letters of encouragement and God’s love for me.
Those were the first Mother’s Day cards I had ever received. And even now, two years later, in our battle with infertility and new journey of adoption, they are still two of the most meaningful pieces of mail I have ever held in my hands. Those letters written in pen and sealed into pink envelopes remind me that God does not ever desire us to feel isolated.
“Then God remembered Rachel…” Genesis 30:22 NIV
That evening I began to search Scripture, and I began to see that there are women in the Bible whose life stories and battles with infertility were purposefully and specifically included. There are detailed accounts of how God heard, and saw, and loved, and provided for women like me. The detail at which these accounts are written is astounding, proving that God really does understand the depth of grief which infertility brings. He records bitterness of heart, weeping, loss of hope, and pain. And yet He leaves not a single one of those women unprovided for, or unheard, or unloved. He is their God, and He loves them and reaches for them even in their brokenness. Hannah wept. Sarah laughed. Rachel was jealous. Elizabeth thought she was disgraced. And all of these women were remembered by God. These are my sisters in Christ. We are forever bonded with them in our seasons of infertility. Their emotions are our emotions, and their voices are valued and heard by our God.
I AM SURVIVING, YOU CAN TOO
So what is my advice to all women this Mother’s Day? It is this, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15 NIV). Certainly there is such cause for rejoicing as we enter into a season of celebration for those who do the hard and rewarding work of mothering. Let us rejoice together with them! But let us also not forget those who suffer hard in the depths of infertility. May our God give us the strength to also mourn with them. May we continue to strive to “be devoted to one another in love and to honor one another above ourselves” (Romans 12:10 NIV).
The truth is, God’s Word includes all of us. Each biblical story speaks to us in the different seasons of life we are in. Whether we feel grief or suffering, or whether we are blessed and rejoice, God covers each of us in His Word, in the stories He has documented of those who came before us.
If you know someone who is experiencing infertility this Mother’s Day, be a light for them. Offer them space to be seen and encouraged in the Lord. Send a letter, text, an email, or call them up on the phone. You never know how great of a blessing that could be for somebody.
If you are experiencing infertility, be brave enough to rejoice with those who are rejoicing in their motherhood. One of the ugliest things that infertility tries to do is to draw a line between us, it tries to separate God’s people. We were meant to do this life together, not apart.
So on this Mother’s Day, be brave enough to step into the shoes of another, to speak with words of kindness and encouragement no matter where your life story has you, and to strive to imitate our Father God who sees, and hears, and loves each and everyone of us.
Please join me in this Mother’s Day prayer:
We know You love each and every single one of us. For those going through infertility, we pray for peace. We pray that You would lift them up, we pray that You would heal all hurt, we pray that You would always and forever continue to hear their voice. Help them to know without a doubt that they have great value and worth in You. We pray that You would continue to allow their faith in You to rise, and as they sit in churches and in their homes this Mother’s Day, that You would instill in them that they are never alone, and that they are fully loved.
For those women who will celebrate their motherhood this Mother’s Day, we thank You for who they are. We thank You for the blessing of children in their lives and for the blessing they are to their children each day. We know that even the road of motherhood is hard, and we pray that You give them strength to keep pressing into You.
Make us all women of great faith, and allow us to grow in our ability and willingness to encourage each other to keep pressing on, and to keep seeing You in all of Your beauty towards us.
In Jesus Name we pray, Amen.