Saturday, May 11, 2013

On Mother's Day, Honoring the Women Who Long for Motherhood

Image from http://myselfishgenes.blogspot.com
Have you ever thought to yourself what Mother's Day must be like for so many women who long to be mothers, but for some reason or another they simply haven't been able to have their own child or have a successful adoption? My husband and I longed for children for several years, but feared we would be ultimately unsuccessful due to a medical condition of mine that complicated a pregnancy. Adoption was out of the picture due to the substantial cost and the delicate screening process, in which I would more than likely be eliminated as a candidate due to my medical condition. Things felt hopeless. I desired to have children so badly. By God's grace, we were able to have a healthy family.

My point is that I've been at that point where things seemed to be going in the direction of being a 2-person family. I understood for just a short time how difficult it can be to be childless, yet be dreaming with all your heart of having a family of your own, yet all avenues are piled high with obstacles that seem un-achievable. I don't want to re-live those many days, even years that felt so dark at times.

There are women who have gone to every length to try to conceive, including IVF, infertility treatments, and many who seek adoption unsuccessfully. Many have had the heartbreak of miscarriages, stillborns, infant death, or loss of children later in life. My heart breaks for these women. In my mind, these women are stronger than many of us mothers who are recognized every Mother's Day, many of whom have not seen such grief.

Displaying a Respect for the Childless on Mother's Day:

So how do we handle Mother's Day around those we know have experienced such heartbreak in their efforts to have a family?

1. Mothers certainly need to proud of their family, but we also need to be careful not to brag or flaunt pictures, stories, or gifts around the childless.

2. There is a sense of loss, grief, and a mourning process involved with the loss of a child through adolescence, birth, or miscarriage. Only those who have been through the process can relate and understand and offer advice. If we have not been in their situation, we simply need to encourage them and pray fervently for them. At all cost, avoid offering advice.

How Can We Encourage the Childless?

1. Fervently pray for them. While you are standing in front of them, write their prayer request on a sheet of paper. You won't believe how encouraging it is to see someone actually say they will pray for you and be serious about it and follow through. You can also pray with them right where you are...prayer has no bounds. God hears us anywhere, anytime. Again, they will be encouraged that you actually followed through by praying for them.

2. Encourage them with scripture (but remember not to add your own advice or twist to each verse - let the power of God's word speak for itself). There are a few verses I always turn to during rough seasons in life that prove to be an encouragement to me.

John 16:33 - Have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart. I have overcome the world.

Romans 8:28 - For we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him, to enable them to fulfill the purpose for which they are called.

2 Corinthians 12:9 - My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.

If you are battling this trial in your life this Mother's Day, I encourage you to ask others for support, whether that be through physical, emotional, or prayer needs. In Exodus 17:8-15, the Israelites were at battle against the Amalekites. God proclaimed that Israel would be the victor, as long as Moses kept his arms raised to the heavens. After a while, Moses' arms grew tired, and he could no longer keep his arms raised. As his hands fell to the ground, so did his Israelite army. Aaron and Hur saw what was happening and quickly ran to Moses and lifted his arms once again to the sky. The Israelites began defeating the Amalekites once again. We learn from this passage that Moses (even a strong leader) needed help. He couldn't do it on his own. We have to ask others for their help, love, prayer, and support. I can tell you I will be one of those praying with you. For in Christ, we find hope.

Mental Illness and the Church