By Bethany Bomberger, Executive Director of The Radiance Foundation
As I sit here with my morning coffee listening to my sweet kiddos quietly playing together—knowing the peace can abruptly end at any moment—I can’t help but ponder the blessing of being a mama. I remember when I was first pregnant. The dreaming. The anticipation. The planning. The sheer terror. The questioning. The wondering. Am I going to mess this up? How can I afford everything? What if I can’t stop the baby from crying or get her to sleep? How do moms breastfeed? Did I buy the right car seat? Will I do irreparable damage if my main source of nutrition during pregnancy is Chick-Fil-A chicken sandwiches with cheese and extra pickles?
No matter the circumstance surrounding becoming a mother, the ebb and flow of emotions and endless what ifs are all part of every mom’s shared journey. We all experience the swinging pendulum from confidence to insecurity and back again when processing the gravity that comes with taking on this new role. (And I am not just referring to the wonderful roller coaster of hormone-induced mood swings.)
There was a deep sense of responsibility that overcame me when I saw my oldest daughter’s first ultrasound. She was only 8 weeks old but her lil’ heart beating – no bigger than a grain of rice – was enough to jolt me from any selfishness I had grown to accept as my norm. I was struck with the magnitude of raising a strong child who knew she was loved beyond belief and motivated to make a positive impact on the world. One who was willing to stand against injustice and defend the rights of the defenseless. One who would use her gifts and talents to bring glory to God and point humanity toward the true source of Hope, Love and Truth. This was no small order and I knew that I couldn’t do any of it in my own strength. I will always remember the defining moment, the eve of that ultrasound, when I wholeheartedly decided to give my heart back to God.
I conceived my first child out of wedlock and raised her essentially as a single mom for the first two years. I married my amazing husband, Ryan, just before my daughter turned two. (He has since adopted her, and she knows the deep abiding love of a daddy because of him.) Within a few years we had two biological kiddos – my almost Irish twins! With three young kiddos in tow, God orchestrated a beautifully scripted (albeit challenging) life-changing adoption of the most precious little 3-month old boy. And before we knew it, we were a family of six!
Each experience of adding a proverbial charm to my mama’s bracelet brought on a unique set of blessings and challenges. But, instinctively, it has always been and will always be my deepest desire that my children love the Lord. My heart is that their lives and behaviors will bring Heaven to Earth. So I pray…and pray some more. I relentlessly pour into each of my children because I believe that every private moment of planting good seed will reap a tremendous harvest.
I recently started re-reading the book of John. John begins by preparing our hearts for the coming Messiah and then moves into Jesus’ public ministry. Now, I have heard the story about Jesus turning water into wine a million times. He is at a wedding in Cana with his disciples and his mom, Mary. With definite expectation, Mary turns to Jesus and says, “They have no more wine!” As I transport myself back in time, I can almost hear Jesus’ quick retort through my own sarcasm and the stop-telling-me-what-to-do tone I have used too many times with my own mom, “MOOOOOM! What do you want me to do about it? This has nothing to do with me!”
Okay. Okay. Unlike me, Jesus wasn’t sarcastic or caustic. Instead He quickly and gently replied, “Dear woman, what does this have to do with me? It’s not my time yet.”1 Even though His response was certainly not laced with disrespect, He obviously wasn’t chomping at the bit to do anything publicly about the wedding host’s predicament.
Mary dismisses Jesus’ reluctance, turns to the servants, and without skipping a beat tells them, “Whatever He says to you, do it!” The servants get the water pots that Jesus asks for and, before their very eyes, does His first public miracle. He turns everyday water into the most full-bodied, aromatic, award-winning wine! John tells us that this was actually the beginning of Jesus’ public miracles and the manifestation of His glory – “displaying His deity and His great power openly”2.
Mary’s behavior is indicative of a mother who believed in the calling on her son’s life. She knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that He was God’s son sent to Earth for a unique and powerful purpose. I believe that Jesus “grew in favor with God and man” (as Luke3 writes) partly because Mary helped shape His behaviors as only a mom could. Mary carried out her calling as a mother with great regard. I am sure there were hours throughout Jesus’ childhood and teen years where Mary experienced the presence of God through Jesus’ wisdom and private miracles. She entertained conversations with Him about the scriptures, shared the miraculous circumstances around His conception and birth, allowed Him to get away and be with the Father when His siblings didn’t have the same desire or understanding. All the motherly caretaking, nurturing and protecting resulted in a mother-son relationship that was real and allowed Jesus’ full potential to be made manifest on earth. I am blown away by the revelation of how instrumental Mary was in catapulting Jesus into His public ministry.
She wasn’t just chosen to birth the son of God, she was chosen to propel Him into His purpose.
Mary ignored Jesus’ hesitancy and in doing so motivated Him to begin a new season in His life. Her commitment and love for the Lord, along with her need for a Savior (as expressed in the Magnificat4) helped shape the kind of mother she became and effected history.
In the same way, I want to be driven by my love for the Lord, my need for a Savior, and the desire to cultivate a relationship with my children that will manifest His Glory on this Earth. I am far from perfect but I will not give up. I may get weary as I teach and parent and clean …and re-teach and re-parent and clean some more. I may spend long exhausting hours in private working through sibling conflict, praying for grace, teaching life skills, and studying His Word with my kids – the standard by which we weigh all things. But that’s ok. These blessings (the few people on this earth that call me ‘mom’) are worth my energy. I believe in the fingerprint of Heaven that they bear. I believe in the purposes God has fashioned within them as He knit them together in the womb5. I choose to be part of seeing them grow and develop and will continue to nudge them to step out when it’s time. Jesus needed a good earthly mama and so do my kids.
VERSES TO TAKE TO HEART