I blink back the disbelief as the sonographer hands me what looks to me like a fuzzy image—a picture of my first child gestating within. I am twenty-two and expecting. My husband and I have been married just over a year. The doctor steps in with enthusiasm and proclaims he has never seen a clearer image of the human heart. Nothing, absolutely nothing—not even an image suited for the sonography hall of fame—seems to have prepared me for the growing awareness of what has begun. I hold this picture. I feel wonder woo me—awe and amazement of God’s creative power stun me. Then the idea of knowing just how to feel like enough―of how to be a qualified mother—makes my heart palpitate with insecurity. This feeling of sheer weakness is coupled with waves of nausea. I am infirm.
Wouldn’t it make much better sense for God to call me to motherhood once I knew what I was actually doing? Paradoxically, that’s not how God designed this mighty call.
I have five children under my roof now from age twenty-one down to age two. I have not achieved a “qualified” status—I have not nailed feeling strong and capable. I have not become an expert. But through the very eye of weakness my heart has been freed and won. I could not have imagined a grace more sufficient, or a strength more mighty.
Yes, I have gone days on end with little sleep and irregular showering. I face imploding diapers to this day. I work hard to temper the tantrums. I answer hard questions and ask even more. There are intense and hurt feelings. There are perpetually growing emotional needs that press me to learn-as-I-go. It is a wheels-off, grueling, pressing, endless, mission. Some days all I really want is a spa treatment, a new dress, and to polish my own toes. There have been many times that I have screamed to the heavens declaring that I am not qualified, and I have cried, convinced my calling would be better suited to someone else, someone more patient, more knowledgeable, and just, well, stronger than me. Motherhood has sent me to the rail and to the confessional crying out, asking God that “this weakness might leave me” (2 Cor 12:8).
But I believe God has purposefully allowed me to feel my exposed, humble state, and experience an acute awareness of my weaknesses and frailties. When I am in this place, I find myself embracing the sweet reality of the Gospel—relying on Jesus to experience the joy of what it means when “grace is sufficient” and tasting the freedom of “Christ’s strength” being made “perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9).
By way of my weakness and because of the strength of Christ, I have tasted of a supernatural, palpable grace that is nothing short of other-worldly—the kind of grace that tingles joy through my whole being and reaches the ground of my hard soul. There has been so much light, so much goodness it makes me weep with gratitude. I marvel how I have birthed five opposites—independent, talented, uniquely gifted, and endlessly creative. I am in awe of each of their hearts. When I sit at the dinner table and the full brood is laughing in unison chorus, I think I can hear a bit of heaven.
So, in my weakness, God’s grace has won my heart, and I experience the strength of his love.