The Bitterness of Motherhood

I must confess I’ve wondered if Mary ever held bitterness as a mother. As the mama, yes, even of Emmanuel. With tired, sunken eyes. And broken words. And misplaced expectations. And her body and mind, plate and time no longer feeling like it belongs, even remotely, to her.

My weariness has gone both spoken and unspoken in this year, but I’ve been pulled further into this kingdom love of Emmanuel — God with us — and I’ve never felt more held by Him.

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.

(2 Corinthians 9:8)

All…again and again it says it.

And He is always with us.

With her, with me, with them.

With you.

Bitterness has come at me hard pressed to reign over my spirit in this season. And if I let it, if I gave it the power, it easily could.

We live in a world all consumed with self care and self motivation and self preservation and self affirmation.

In and of itself, these things are excellent parts of our becoming. They help us rest, reprieve, refocus and regain.

They become redemptive threads within our one story.

But when they become the it factor to our being and our presence in all the roles we play, they can nurture bitter roots and misplace our identity.

And that struggle, that temptation, has been the real deal for me throughout this chapter of my life. I’ve had to press my hands into the grime of life, into the cold soil, into what is shifting and changing beyond my control, cupping fresh and swollen tears. With the same hands I’ve had to pick up God’s word and grip it with certain hope. I’ve had to recognize again and again that this wonderful, beautiful, painful, unexpected life is not about my story.

It’s my story, woven with all of the other life stories, to tell the story. 

On the days where I’m tempted towards the bitter…

Bitter over solo parenting all day only to be met by daddy scooping up little cherubs who are suddenly absolute delights

Bitter over cancelled plans and rearranged schedules because the unexpected rolled out its red carpet again 

Bitter over the revolving door of picking up toys and laundry that never actually makes it to the drawers

Bitter over broken sleep and broken belief as sickness rears its ugly, chronic head 

Bitter over no one listening the way I want them to listen 

Bitter over changing bodies and changing intimacy , changing diapers and changing budgets 

Bitter over the lack of time that can daily feel chaotic and wasted and breathtakingly beautiful all at once 

Bitter over all the things and places and dreams given up at the sake of being all-in present

And then the shame and guilt of feeling bitter…

… on those days, in those moments, that heartbeat of Christ beats loud, reminding me why I became a mother in the first place.

It wasn’t for myself.

I became a mother because He chose me to be mother.

To be with us as mother.

To bring another God story into this world, to bring broken up to wholly His and holy loved.

Eve means “giver of life.” I don’t think this redemptive calling to be a life giver is only biological. The life of Christ in us enables women to be life givers, rather than life-takers, in every relationship, circumstance, and season of life.
― Gloria Furman, Word-Filled Women’s Ministry: Loving and Serving the Church

And in that knowing, bitterness subsides, and with heaven-fixed eyes I’m able to see the days more clearly and my children with the heart of Emmanuel. I’m praying this season of your motherhood is filled with that same hope & promise. He is with you, always.

You were chosen for this mama, as He was chosen for us.


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