To the fearful would-be mother...

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[My wife, Mary Lee, forwarded this to me and I asked the writer, Mrs. Lucas (Hannah) Weeks, for permission to post it here—which she kindly granted.]

You recently mentioned your fear associated with many aspects of motherhood. It seems that these fears are a major factor in your decision to put off the big leap, as well they might. But may I be so bold as to encourage you to take a new perspective on those fears, although I am a mere acquaintance?

I write "from the trenches” as they say. As a mother of five children six and under, including an infant with special needs, I could hardly be more qualified to address your fears. However, after a year of trials with our newest addition, my observations are bound to be a bit raw. The thing is, I don’t intend to assuage your fears. You might say my goal is to help you embrace them.

There are lots of women who would be happy to tell you all the beautiful things about motherhood. In fact, when you walk through the grocery store with a baby in a cart, you’re bound to be stopped by an older woman who tells you to, “enjoy it, it’ll be over before you know it.” They’re very sweet, and certainly well-meaning. And it really is a good reminder. But the truth is that, generally, the passage of time has given a golden cast to the years when they were raising their own children and they don’t remember (or don’t realize) that the best attributes of their character were molded, not by the days of bliss they seem to remember now, but by sleepless nights, worry-filled days, and the weight of constant care they carried for the little ones they raised. 

And then there’s another type of woman you’ll meet...

These ones will tell you the many things you'll miss out on and lose by having children. They’re bitter and hardened. So much so in fact, that if you have children along when you bump into them, they’ll probably only make a rude comment and hurry on. They seem to have forgotten the feeling of a chubby baby hand on their cheek. They can’t remember the celebration of small victories with a toddler or the overwhelming exuberance of a 3-yr-old boy, dinner table conversations of such hilarity that you laugh till you cry, and a child’s arms around your neck and whispers in your ear. What they don’t understand is that their hardening began in the midst of all this joy and they missed it all. Not just the every day joy of children, but also the sanctifying influence of the suffering that they bring with them. They had it, but they missed it. 

The truth is, motherhood is full of joy AND suffering. From pregnancy, to childbirth, to a whole host of fears and difficulties as the little one grows, suffering will be a constant companion. 

So let me talk about suffering. We’ve been through a lot with our infant daughter, Mary Louise. It started with a 3 week hospitalization when she was 2 weeks old. And continued with her inability to take in enough food to grow. She was still the size of our other newborns when, at age 4.5 months, she was put on a feeding tube. At that point, she finally began to grow. It was a relief, but the doctors weren’t done with us. They said they thought there was an underlying problem. But they didn’t know what. Currently, Mary still doesn’t have a diagnosis. She is still tube-fed, is in multiple kinds of therapy and has appointments at Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis on a regular basis. Mary has suffered much in her short life. And as her mommy, I’ve been right there with her in the midst of it. Because your children's suffering is your suffering in very real ways. 

But here’s my point about suffering: God uses it in so many ways in our lives and the lives of those around us. It produces such good fruit in us that He tells us to consider it all joy when we encounter various trials. These trials are what the Spirit uses to bring about endurance in us… endurance to our heavenly prize. I’ve seen this in many ways in the last 9 months. While I don’t know the long-term fruit it will produce in my character, I can tell you a few of the lessons I’ve learned along the way.

  1. Suffering with your spouse means that you’re going to fight. You have to learn to fight with love and patience so that you come out a better team.
  2. It’s very difficult to trust God for the suffering of our children. But as you walk through it with them in faith, you’ll realize that God will use it for their good just as He does for yours. And you’ll find that in the midst of suffering, your children will be a sweet comfort to you.
  3. Your suffering doesn’t only impact you, it effects all those looking on. Because of your suffering, children are learning faithfulness in prayer, and if you’re a good witness, you’re likely encouraging others around you to bear up under their own burdens.
  4. Suffering faithfully doesn’t mean, “Put a smile on”. A lot of the hard work of suffering is learning to grieve in faith. 

It doesn’t take a medical crisis to learn these lessons. If you have the eyes to see it, you’ll be learning them in little ways every day. Rather than becoming misty-eyed, you’ll learn to come beside others in their suffering. And far from being hardened, yours will be the gentlest arm to lean on. But perhaps the best lesson of all your suffering will remind you to hope in Heaven.

Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and big lots of grandchildren.

Want to get in touch? Send Tim an email!