Our small, sad announcement: Our little Chickpea (so named by Older Brother), our fourth baby, was called home to heaven without ever meeting the rest of the family face-to-face. There was the ultrasound with no heartbeat, then the waiting, then the surgery when my body didn’t realize that there was no need to be pregnant anymore. “In His presence is fullness of joy” – no boo-boos, no tears – a pain-free pass into eternity. We are happy for our Chickpea, and we are so grateful that we will meet one day.
Mother’s Day and Church can sometimes have a difficult relationship. Mother’s Day is always on a Sunday. Churches want to celebrate mothers and exalt motherhood in a culture where mothering is so little valued. Churches also want to be sensitive to those for whom this day is difficult. Sometimes they sway too far one way, sometimes too far the other, but no matter how carefully they balance on the tightrope, it seems someone always feels forgotten. I have been the happy mother, celebrating her children and her own mother, mother-in-law, and grandmothers. I have stood grateful for the celebration of the hard job that I do in the daily nurturing of little ones.
But I have also felt unsettled by Mother’s Day, wishing it would stay in the Hallmark aisle and not invade my spaces. And sometimes this tension has kept me home on Mother’s Day, driving me under the covers. But the more I experience life, the more I feel that the pain I avoid by staying home is not equal to the amount of joy and encouragement I receive by spending time with my church family on Sunday mornings.
So I will go to church tomorrow, though yesterday was the day of horrible finality and ending of my pregnancy with Baby #4. In my raw pain, I am sure that something said in regards to Mother’s Day will sting because no church can possibly cover all bases in regards to this issue. But where else can I go? Where else can I find bindings for my soul? Where else can I find encouragement in the testimony of others standing and praising God?
As I look around in church tomorrow, I will see that I am not the only one who keeps coming back to our great and mighty God. I will see the faithfulness of our sustaining God reflected in the faces of many around me. I will see the woman whose husband left her to raise her kids alone. I will see the woman whose husband was suddenly taken home – the woman who sings loud and true with joy carved deep by the pain. I will see parents who’ve buried their children, coming back to the One who caused their pain. I will see a woman standing in strength and beauty, longing for a husband and children to call her own. I will see a husband who longs for his wife to have a child, and a child who longs for healing. I know we are all a family, gathered around our good and gracious Father who inexplicably wounds and binds up wounds with the sweetest salve.
As I sing, my voice confident then falling into the crack between the heavy comfort of God and the continuing intensity of my pain, I am glad for those around me, singing for me when I cannot. I’m encouraged in the pain, knowing that I am not alone. We come together as the body of Christ, knowing that he makes all things beautiful in His time.
So tomorrow, I will stand in church among the broken faithful, praising the Name of the God who gives to take and takes to give. I hope you will join me, knowing that if your pain spills over as you worship, you will encourage those around you by your very presence and praise of Our Good and Faithful God.