I am pondering today what it is to be a woman. Or at least one aspect of it. Made to receive, nurture, and grow life. A life-giver.
It is work to prepare to receive life. It is pain to prepare for the possibility of life, month after month, and have all the preparations be seemingly wasted. A woman’s body bleeds and cramps at the unfulfilled hope. And yet, month after month, it hopes again. Prepares again.
No matter how many times it is denied, it is fully ready again to receive life. No matter how many years the womb has been empty. Every month: hope. Every month: loss. And the cycle repeats.
It is a regular reminder that at the core of our design is the role of life-giver. From the beginning, woman was created to be a helpmeet and then called a mother. And yet there will not be life at every cycle, every opportunity. But as women, we prepare anyway, whether or not the opportunity ever comes to fruition.
Perhaps it is also at the core of our design to faithfully hope. Faithfully prepare. Faithfully grieve the loss of hope or rejoice at the gift of life – which is accompanied with further challenge and pain. Birth is traumatic. But a woman goes through it, that she might bring forth life.
Perhaps that is why barrenness and infertility hit at such core places in a woman’s heart. Why miscarriage and the loss of a child at any stage is so devastating to a mother. Why prodigal children hurt so deeply.
Our pain has been multiplied in childbearing, and in pain we shall bring forth children. We bear the curse of sin. Motherhood and all that accompanies it is hard. Physically and beyond. And yet it is still our privilege. It is still a unique thing, this capacity to nurture and bring forth life in a way that a man can never fully know.
So what does it mean to embrace that design, regardless of where we find ourselves in the journey of bringing forth children in pain? What does it mean to keep hoping? Keep preparing? Keep being ready to give life?
Not just physically. Motherhood is so much bigger than just the physical caring of a child through pregnancy and delivery. How do we, regardless of the season we find ourselves in, open ourselves up to hoping and preparing and loving whoever God has given us to mother?
I can’t answer that question for you. But here is a glimpse of how I am answering it for myself:
Today, I am single. Today, my womb is empty. Today, I have not known a man, have not known the joy of bringing forth life in unity with a man, and yes, singleness and barrenness can feel like a double pain.
But that does not mean I cannot today hope and prepare and love those whom God has given me to mother. Be it siblings, my friends’ children, the students in my healthy relationship presentations or after-school clubs, the girls at my PRC, the little ones and youth in my church, or anyone else. My life is full of children to love. My very work at the PRC equips many mothers to choose life for their children who might not get to live otherwise – and so in some small way, I am part of those babies receiving life.
God speaks of the barren woman singing, and more being the children of the desolate one than the children of her who is married. He speaks of enlarging her tent, not holding back, having offspring, not being disgraced, and knowing that her Maker is her husband, the Lord of Hosts is His name, and the Holy One of Israel is her Redeemer.
I want to be careful not to take it too literally. I know that passage in Isaiah 54 was speaking of Israel. And yet. I have found it to be true, at least at one level. It is a delight to watch how my Lord works all things for good.
The calling of life-giver is on each of us as women, and barrenness is no exception. Today, God asks me to embrace that calling, regardless of how He brings it about. To hope in spite of seemingly denied opportunities. To open my hands, open my heart, though it bring loss. To feel the pain but hope just as joyfully next time.
For that is part of being a woman made in the image of God. Bravely hoping. Bravely loving. Bravely receiving. Bravely persevering. Bravely giving.
At the end of the day, it is not I who give life. It is God. It is mine to receive the gift. To know that whatever He gives is good. Today, too, is good. Today I am no less a woman. No less a receiver of life. No less a nurturer.
Today, dear sisters, whatever our season, whatever our pain, whatever it looks like for us to be a life-giver, let us bravely embrace our design and then bravely walk it out.
May God bless you and give you life abundant as you do so.