Sisterhood of aching hearts [ a Mother's Day post ]

I couldn’t do Mother’s Day last year. 

It was only nine months since we had last held Ethan in our arms and I was only one month out from my first miscarriage. The mere thought of sitting in church next to a woman holding her baby or entering a restaurant filled with smiling families was enough to send me into a panic. 

It wasn't the first year that Mother's Day stung. Two years before, I blinked back tears as roses were distributed to each of the mothers in the church sanctuary. We were two years into our infertility journey and I yearned to count myself among the women who beamed with pride as their children handed them their rose. 

When you're hurting, it's easy to assume that your hurt is the greatest. I looked around at the smiling mother's, convinced that their lives must be so easy. The truth is, we all ache in some way. We all have our battles. 

As women, we're quick to place divisive labels on ourselves and on one another. We avoid association with anyone outside of our grouping, for fear of being misunderstood, for fear of not having anything in common, and for fear of judgement. Sometimes we even avoid association out of jealously over the things we want and do not have. 

In reality, there is such beauty in having a diverse community of sisterhood. While it includes various socioeconomic statuses, education levels, and races, diversity also includes a variety of life stages, stories, and ways in which motherhood has shaped our hearts. It is in this rich community of experiences, scars, and perspectives where we can grow and encourage one another. This rich community is where bitterness ends and understanding begins. 

I am so grateful for our different stories. I am grateful for friends in different life stages who have helped me to look beyond myself and to see the needs of others. I am grateful for the sisterhood of women who have been shaped by motherhood who have have spurred me on and have encouraged me, despite how different my life may look than theirs. 

This Mother's Day, I want to take a moment to acknowledge all of the women who have been shaped by motherhood in the most beautiful and devastating ways. I want to take a moment to say thank you for the things you have taught me about unconditional love and forgiveness, and the ways you have drawn me closer to Jesus. 

To the mamas who celebrate motherhood outside the traditional norms--the bereaved mamas, the adoptive mamas, the birth mamas, the foster mamas: You have taught me so much about unconditional love. You have taught me so much about selflessness. You each love your children with a love that is fierce and unbreakable. Thank you for giving me a glimpse of God's unconditional love for us.

To the women who long for motherhood--those who have faced challenges of infertility or who long for a family: You have taught me so much about finding joy in each and every season. You have truly shown me that my value does not rest in my ability to bear children. You have shown me what it looks like to nurture a hurting world and to pour the love of a mother onto everyone you come in contact with. You have inspired me and given me such hope.

To the mamas with full arms--to those who fight for their sick child, to those who are chasing toddlers, to those who are empty nesters, to who feel tired and overwhelmed: You, too, have taught me so much about unconditional love and selflessness. Thank you for showing me that a life where all of my "perfect plans" unfolded would not be without pain and struggle. Thank you for showing me that Jesus needs to be the deepest desire of my heart.

To all the women in my life, this day is for you. Thank you for all of the ways you have helped bear my burdens. Thank you for all the times you have joined with me and have used your unique gifts and experiences to counteract my weaknesses, and vice versa. Thank you for showing me what the body of Christ looks like in action. Thank you for your sisterhood.

"For the body does not consist of one member but of many.  If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body…If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.”

1 Corinthians 12:14-20, 26-27