I half-heartedly started to write a Mother’s Day post last week. I copied this post from last year and started to edit it, but my heart just wasn’t in it. I kept pushing it to the bottom of the long to-do list until it was too late. And that’s okay. I’ve had several years of difficult Mother’s Days, but this year I was feeling pretty strong. I still felt empathetic toward the many women who were dreading a day that made their hearts empty, but for once, I was fine.
But Sunday came and it was a really tough day for me. I was shocked. There were any number of things that made it hard— our morning was extra busy, my kids were bickering like it was their job (Is it? I sometimes wonder.) When I hopped on Facebook for a minute, the faces of happy moms hugging their kids kids twisted up my insides, so I decided to stay off for the rest of the day. I feel horrible even admitting it, because my Facebook feed is full of people I love, families I cheer on. But the reminders of whole families can be hard. So sometimes I take a little break.
We drove a few hours after church to meet my parents and we had a great time together. The kids bounced between being their normal, goofy selves, making us laugh and overflow with thankfulness… and then testing the limits, scowling, and going well beyond the boundaries. My patience was thin and I was struggling, but it was also a really great day with my family.
It wasn’t until today— A full three days after Mother’s Day that the dam finally broke. I was listening to the last few minutes of Christy Nockel’s podcast with Kay Warren. At the end, as she was talking about her son who died tragically just a few years ago, she said this:
“I would give anything if my three children were here. I’m glad he’s in heaven— of course I’m glad!— but I wanted to live my whole life with him.”
My tears came fast and hard, taking me by surprise. It was just a small statement cushioned between other things, but I’ve learned to pay attention to my tears and things that touch my soul so deeply. Yes, a million times over, I would do anything to have all four of my children here, together.
There are often days I am glad Annie is with Jesus. In a world filled to the brim with danger and uncertainty, with horrible evil and malice, I am thankful she will never experience the brutal world my other kids are learning more about each day. I’m deeply thankful when I think that all she ever knew was love— first from us, then straight into Jesus’ arms. What more could I desire for her?!
But when she grew inside of me, when I held her for the first time, when I changed her diaper, tickled her tummy, nuzzled her close to me… I expected her to live the rest of my days with her by my side. I wanted to live my whole life with her. The brokenness of our family is still so very hard for me.
Kay went on to say (and I’m loosely quoting since it was a podcast), “Life doesn’t look the way you thought it was going to look. Things are broken, things aren’t right. There are things I’d change in a heartbeat because it’s just too painful. And we don’t know what tomorrow will even look like. Tomorrow we may find that it’s even worse. But we must take each moment and say, ‘I am going to love this moment.’ That’s what allows us to still find beauty and joy in this life.”
Figuring out how to love the moments — from the beautiful, glorious ones to the hard, grief-filled ones and everything in-between… that’s the great mystery, isn’t it? So much of life is found in that very in-between. When I step back to search, I find that God is in all of the moments and it’s possible to still find beauty when I’m brokenhearted and downtrodden. Even on the hardest days, I can still believe that life is good and God is good. Life isn’t tied up in a neat little package.. and that’s okay. It takes a lifetime of practice to lean hard into Jesus, to allow Him to teach me to find the beauty on the days when if feels impossible.
That’s what I’m preaching to myself today, as I recover from a very hard Mother’s Day. Just because it was difficult doesn’t mean it wasn’t beautiful.
Perhaps, sweet friend, you need to hear that, too? Grief takes work, hard work. Some days will be easier than others, because you didn’t expect life to look like this. But you still have a beautiful life to be lived. The good, the bad, the in-between moments are all worth loving.
I’m praying the words of Paul in Ephesians 3 for you today… May you be strengthened by the Spirit today— not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength— that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite Him in. And I ask Him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. May you reach out and experience the breadth of it. Test its length! Plumb the depths! Raise to the heights! No matter what your circumstances, you can live full lives, full in the fullness of God. God can do anything, you know— far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He doesn’t push you around, He works within you, His Spirit deeply and gently within.
I’m Sarah and I write about the hope & joy that can come even in the midst of deep grief and sorrow. I’d love to have you join me.