It was your tiny face that tipped my whole world.
It was your tiny body that made me discover my own.
It was your tiny soul that will always move mine.
It is the treasure of who you are that taught me who I can be.
“I’m pregnant” the woman told me. Her eyes pools of fear and love.
And suddenly, the path seemed to stretch behind me long. The test, the flutter, the ultrasound, the fear, the pangs, the slowing of time and myself, the welcoming of each new life, my own started new. I thought of the stretching of my body paired with the stretching of my soul - seven times over. Whether they lived or went on to heaven, my heart was forever changed for my body having held them.
For the four my arms held, I smelled the soft scent of their newborn skin that only age washes away. Each one exquisitely their own. I felt full and empty, full and empty, over and over, starting with birth, and then with each and every feeding. I filled up, and poured out for each and every one. I thought of the ache of recovery and the ache of my heart as I watched the baby rolls smooth and each of them open, like buds into flowers. Their eyes widen, their fingers reach, their little roly bodies wriggle away. Soon they were crawling, then walking, then “Look Mom!” running and jumping.
And now, my oldest, standing eye to eye with me and still asking the ever present “Why?”. Gradually, now I’m hearing her understanding deepen and widen, her compassion grow like the arms of the orchids in my window. Complex thoughts and feelings burgeon from nowhere and bud. Someday, a fully grown miracle will look back at me. Each one of them will, Lord willing.
“Congratulations!” I said. And never had a word been so lacking.
“Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb?” God asked the ancient people that read and heard Isaiah’s prophecy. But He answers it Himself, “Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of My hands…” (Isaiah 49:15-16). Having been filled and emptied and filled and emptied with the carrying of my seven babies, I know how strong a mother’s love is, and if you have ever loved another wholly for their good then you have too.
When searching the hearts and souls of the world for the purest love and loyalty He could find to explain to us His own love, He uses the love of a woman with her nursing infant. We know that love don’t we? We feel it when we look into the eyes of our children or grandchildren or children in the faith – it doesn’t matter what we feel, it is filled with love. In happiness, they bring us great joy. In anger, they make us furious. In sadness, they give us deep grief. Why? Because we cannot not have compassion for them. Our posture to them is always, “I love you.”
One of my daughters had a phase when she would melt down when her little sisters were not listening to her. It was helpless frustration and she said and did things she should not. I was at my wits end with her. Her screaming and tears and vicious comments were tearing into everyone else like a hurricane. And honestly? It wasn’t fair and it made me furious. I tried everything in the book (usually being very angry myself) and things only escalated.
Until one day, as she was screaming at her sister, and as I was winding up to dole out discipline, I felt the Spirit and did something I never thought I would. I held her. Fiercely. I held her tightly in my arms and stroked her hair. When she had finally calmed down, I whispered, “Did you forget that I love you?” She nodded and buried her face in my shirt and wept.
That, looking back, was the beginning of the end of that phase. I cried too in that moment, because as she sat in my lap, shaking, the Spirit asked me the same searching question. “Did you forget that I love you?” Yes, I did. I do.
“Even these may forget, but I will never forget you.” I forget my love for my children more than I care to admit. But could it be that in those moments I handle so poorly that I really forget His love for me? I think so. But He never forgets. We are engraved on His hands – and what exactly does that look like? He showed Thomas His nail prints. Nail prints that were still present in His palms after His resurrection. As He said they would be – because He promises to never forget.
And maybe you needed that today, friend. The gentle reminder in all of your laundry and trips to the store and late nights and early mornings. In the mess and the chronic pain and the exhaustion and inconvenience and frayed nerves and badly handled situations that motherhood (or any job for that matter) tends to bring, there is a soft breath of fresh air that you can let build to a crescendo of joy. He loves you more than a mother loves her baby. Tenderly, fiercely, eternally. It is not trite, not a cliche, not a side note on more “important” truths of work and calling and obedience and usefulness. There are no strings.
Central to the message of the gospel and central to living for Him is His deep, unfailing, all encompassing love to us as His own. And central to knowing Him, serving Him well and resting in His grace is this soul filling truth - He will never forget.
I've been working on a newsletter for you. More poetry, some prose, some book recommendations that I've been savoring recently and maybe more. I hope it will be encouraging for you, maybe even inspiring. I have been enjoying putting it together, piece by piece. I haven't decided how often I'll send one, but if that interests you and you haven't already, subscribe to receive the first one next week.
As always, thank you for reading.