Yesterday after the race we drove through Zion National Park to spend a day recovering in St. George. We drove through the "mountain tunnel", came out to the spectacular view of natural beauty, and Max gaped, "Wow, let's get a picture!!" A million things ran through my mind, namely: I hadn't had a real shower in a while, done my hair, I wasn't wearing make up, we were crammed in the car with camping gear up to our ears, getting out of the car would mean moving our legs after a 24 hour trail race...just for starters.
And then what my five year old was really asking for hit me. And let's be honest, how many times would my son request a family photo?! So we all piled out of the car.
These boys are my whole world (the big one included). They have given me an identity I just love.
The past four Mother's Days have been bittersweet. We've gone from wanting more children, to infertility treatments and the hopes they would help us add to our family, to the heartache, grief, and finally the quiet understanding that comes with letting go. Through this journey, I have questioned a lot: What's wrong with me? What did I do wrong? Why don't I deserve it? Why haven't my prayers been heard? Is my faith really that small?
I am finally at a place where I feel like I have learned a lot--about motherhood--but more specifically about womanhood. Patricia Holland's talk One Thing Needful has become my go-to balm of Gilead. it's funny that she doesn't specifically address infertility, but every time I read her talk, I feel like she's taken my concerns and griefs into consideration. I come away feeling more whole and connected to womanhood. I come away feeling and knowing the griefs and sadnesses I've experienced aren't exclusively mine, and in some way my burdens aren't exclusively mine. They belong to women I know who have experienced multiple miscarriages; women who have never married and borne children; women who have given up their infants for adoption; women who have health issues and cannot bear more children; women who have serious health issue when they are pregnant or during the labor process and have consciously made the choice to limit heir family in favor of their own life; women who wanted more children and thought they would have more, but got divorced and never had that opportunity; women who had no issues at all having their children, and simply decided they were done--because there is still a level of sadness and grief letting go of one phase and moving on to another (after, of course, the joy when you realize you are done with diapers); women who have to reconcile their life to a life different than their original expectations. We are much more connected than we think we are.
"Surely there has not been another time in history when women have questioned their self-worth as harshly and critically as in the second half of the twentieth century. Many women are searching, almost frantically, as never before, for a sense of personal purpose and meaning...for eternal insight and meaning to their femaleness.
If I were Satan and wanted to destroy a society, I think I would stage a full-blown blitz on women. I would keep them so distraught and distracted that they would never find the calming strength and serenity for which their sex has always been known.
Because of the increasing diversity of lifestyles for women today, we seem even more uncertain and less secure with each other. We are not getting closer, but further away from that sense of community and sisterhood that has sustained us and given us strength for generations. There seems to be an increase in our competitiveness and a decrease in our generosity with one another.
I believe we can find our steady footing and stilling of the soul by turning away from physical preoccupation, superwoman accomplishments, and endless popularity contests, and returning instead to the wholeness of our soul, that unity in our very being that balances the demanding and inevitable diversity of life.
Obviously the Lord has created us with different personalities, as well as differing degrees of energy, interest, health, talents, and opportunity. So long as we are committed to righteousness and living a life of faithful devotion, we should celebrate these divine differences, knowing they are a gift from God. We must not feel so frightened, so threatened and insecure; we must not need to find exact replicas of ourselves in order to feel validated as women of worth. There are many things over which we can be divided, but one thing is needful for our unity--the empathy and compassion of the living Son of God.
We must have the courage to be imperfect while striving for our perfection."
So thank you to all those women I have come across in this journey who have taught me compassion, grace, understanding, unity, courage, charity--all of which I am perfect in my imperfection--and especially to those who have encouraged me to "get a picture" along the way.
Happy Mother's Day.