Not too long ago, my pastor spoke on the importance of children and family ministry — ironic, considering the unrelenting baby fever sparked by the cute child peeking over her mother’s shoulder only a couple rows ahead.
“This message isn’t just for those of you with kids,” Pastor Billy remarked (Okay, I’m listening), “We’re all a part of the body of Christ, and the body of Christ is a family. When we talk about raising the kids of this church, it applies to us all.”
At my not-so-great-but-certainly-more-honest moments, I don’t want to hear that spiritual mothers can be such an influential part of discipling and raising up the next generation. You see, I’ve felt a desire to be a mom for as long as I can remember, and I don’t particularly love the idea of letting that desire go. I want actual children, not just spiritual children (which sounds kind of funny anyway).
But that morning at church was different. As I sat, oriented toward the cross centered at the front of the sanctuary, I felt myself longing to accept and appreciate the reality that the Church is a family. At that moment, I wasn’t annoyed by the idea; I was grateful.
The reality exists that I may never get married. I may not be able to get pregnant. I may never have kids to call my own. And despite that sobering truth, a part of me is comforted that when the Church reaches beyond the neat family units and into the lives of those who are single and childless, it does provide a glimpse of what I desire — family. The opportunity to mentor and be mentored. People to welcome into my home and around my table.
It’s not the same as sharing a name with a husband and children of my own. Far from it, really. But it reminds me to step back and consider that we’re living in an imperfect world. We were created for something greater than this place can ever offer. Though made for Eden, we reside in a world marred by brokenness and pain instead.
Some days I find that truth to be comforting. Every good thing in this broken world — laughter, beauty, nature, successful careers, music, marriage, motherhood — is all just a glimpse of the good that is to come. Many days, however, that truth is nothing if not downright frustrating. I get so mentally stuck on my life right here, right now, that nothing in me wants to think forward to eternity. I feel defeated. How could some distant hope ever ease the ache, the desperate longing that I feel?
Yet there is something else I know to be true. If I can’t ever look past the here and now to eternity, I will find myself unfulfilled. So often we’re handed good gifts — the ones we longed for, asked for — and we find ourselves confused. We get what we want and even then it isn’t enough.
The restlessness remains.
A Bible teacher named Amy Gannett reminds us that “waiting is a common theme in the human experience.” She reflects on words previously given her by a mentor: On the other side of waiting is more waiting — a frustrating thought, really, if I’m being completely honest.
If that statement is true — that on the other side of waiting is more waiting — then attaining motherhood won’t fulfill me. It’s easy to think that having a family of my own would ease this relentless lack of peace. But a few years down the road — whether I have a family or not — I’ll search for relief in more meaningful relationships, in improved health, in financial stability, in a faith free from doubts. There’s always something feeding the restlessness we feel.
Waiting is unique for the Christian because we wait for something that extends further than this life. There’s hope in that we will one day experience God’s kingdom in full. The question is, what now? What until then? There must be some way to live well with our current unfulfilled longings.
I’ve spent years waiting for something that I cannot yet have. Nothing’s changed. I don’t want motherhood any less than I did before. And while a “once and for all” kind of letting go would be nice, it’s a bit unrealistic for today.
So, for now, the answer is daily surrender.
This doesn’t mean I’ve stopped asking for marriage and motherhood. It doesn’t mean I wait around passively until God gives me what I want. It simply means that I’ve chosen not to let this unfulfilled longing hinder me from moving forward in obedience and trust. In fact, I’ve learned that sometimes obedience and trust means taking action toward something I desire and then surrendering the outcome in God’s hands.
Surrender also means waking up each morning and in prayer, handing over my very real desire to be a mom. It’s approaching my day with gratitude for what I have to counteract the discontentment I feel. It’s recognizing God’s gift of the Church, through which He has given me a family where I will always have a place.
Will I surrender today? Yes. Day after day after day.
Obedience and trust means taking action toward something I desire and then surrendering the outcome in God’s hands. -Samantha Swanson: Click To Tweet Leave a Comment