I sat in church the other day and saw the red ribbon sticking out of my bible. I turned to the page and saw the book mark labeled “A Mother’s Love is forever”.
Am I a mother? No.
Why do I have this bookmark? It’s a silly story but during my many years as a youth leader I led many groups at Summer and Winter camps. Some years are more memorable than others and one year my group of kids found the ribbon in the mini chapel and it became sort of our unofficial (and our inanimate) mascot. I have kept that ribbon in my bible for years now and it’s a reminder of what a blessing ministry is in my life.
But sitting in church the other day it reminded me of something else.
I am a single girl with no children.
Unless I get married and the Lord wills or unless the Lord leads me to adopt there are no signs that I will ever have any children to raise of my own. But as I looked at that ribbon I was reminded of the youth that the Lord has allowed me to mother through the years. I am reminded that the Lord gave me years of teaching pre-school and mothering pre-school age children five days a week at least eight hours a day. I am reminded of myself as a teenager and young adult and the women that came alongside of me and mothered me in times when I needed it. I am reminded of what God has called us, as women and us as the church to do. Which is to mother. I don’t believe that we are all called to be parents to our own physical children. We do not live in a perfect world so sometimes these things don’t happen the way we would like. I also believe there are some women out there that do not have a desire or a calling to have children and that’s okay. But what God has called us to do is to raise up the younger woman. As I started going through Titus this is something that has been impressed upon my heart even more.
“The older women likewise, that they be reverent in behave, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things – that they admonish the young women to love their own husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.” Titus 2:3-5
My heart, instinctively, has always desired to minister to those women who are younger than me. My heart has always been, or at least since before I can remember, to mother and protect those that are younger than I. Maybe it’s because I was the first daughter, granddaughter and niece in the family and I babysat all those that came after me. Maybe it was because I am the oldest and therefore birth order predicts that I would be a nurturer and really just a bossy pants. But as I get older I see that the Lord has taken that desire to mother and has turned it into a tool to serve His kingdom.
I may not have children of my own but I have cared for sick and hurting children, I have sat up and cried with and prayed with teenage girls who are going through trials and I have sat up nights praying, interceding for young men and women in our youth group. I have been thrown up on and have bandaged cuts and scrapes, I have rubbed homesick backs and soothed restless babies. I have potty trained more kids than I can count and have changed more diapers than I care to know. I don’t say this to pat myself on the back or to get some kind of accolades but I say this to remind myself of what the Lord has allowed me to experience.
The girl with no children.
I’m not saying I know what it is to be a parent but what I am saying is that as long as the Lord allows I will continue to pour into those that are younger than I because it is my duty and because it is my heart, my passion, my desire and I believe part of my calling.
I know the subject of barrenness, whether you physically cannot have your own children or because the Lord has not led you into that season yet can be a very touchy subject. It can be and is very painful and I don’t claim to know anything or have any answers or to really know the first thing about it. What I can say is that from a single girl who always wanted to be a mom, if I stop and look I can see all of the children the Lord has allowed me to mother in one way or another and when I do that I am overwhelmed by His forethought and generosity in that. That He gave me a heart to mother and then provided me the opportunity to do so. Maybe not in the way I would have thought but in the way He saw perfect for me. That He would use me to be even the smallest part of someone’s life younger or older.
I may not understand the depths of a Mothers love but I have experienced the depths of my heavenly Farther’s love for me. My prayer and desire is that the tiniest fraction of that would pour out of me.